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Forensic Science Technicians picture    Forensic Science Technicians image

Forensic science technicians investigate crimes. They document crimes scenes with photographs and written reports. Forensic science technicians collect, store, test and evaluate evidence. Technicians utilize various types of equipment such as ultraviolet light, microscopes, spectrographs, x-ray machines and infrared photography. They also provide reports which include documentation of their findings and include the laboratory techniques which were utilized. Their findings often help to determine if a defendant is innocent or guilty of a crime.

Sometimes they may offer information and expert opinions to investigators. In addition, forensic science technicians often appear in court to provide expert witness testimony regarding laboratory findings. While in court, they typically identify and classify evidence that was collected at crime scenes.

Many in the profession specialize in different fields, including performing tests on weapons or substances such as fiber, hair or body fluids. Some specialize as crime scene technicians or laboratory technicians. Many technicians specialize in DNA analysis. Document technicians evaluate handwriting and the paper.

Instrument technicians are asked to match the marks located on victims to the tools that may have been used in the crime. Photography technicians are responsible for taking photographs of crime scenes. Fingerprint technicians evaluate fingerprints and footprints and some also analyze tire treads.

Responsibilities

  • Gather evidence at crime scenes
  • Analyze evidence
  • Properly store evidence
  • Determine the relationship among all the evidence
  • Analyze guns
  • Evaluate tool marks
  • Evaluate fingerprints
  • Analyze tire prints
  • Consult with other experts
  • Prepare reports of their findings

Job Characteristics

Technicians must be detailed oriented, precise and methodical. They also need good communication and organizational skills. Regarding their work environment, the laboratories are typically ventilated and clean. Due to being in contact with physical evidence they are sometimes exposed to diseases, fumes and chemicals. They often wear protective and disposable clothing such as paper suits and gloves.

Forensic science technicians work closely with FBI investigators and state and local police. They also work with medical experts and with other forensic science technicians that have a specialty. In addition, sometimes they present their findings in court. They usually work 40 hours a week and are required to be on call.

Employment Outlook

Advancement opportunities are provided by taking civil service examinations. The exams typically require knowledge of the latest techniques in the profession. Some may advance to supervisory jobs.

In 2006, the median hourly earnings for forensic science technicians was $21.79. There were approximately 13,000 forensic science positions in 2006. The employment growth rate for forensic technicians is projected to be much faster than the average for all other types of employment. The increase is primarily due to the growth in usage of forensic science to examine and solve crimes.

Forensic Science Technicians Degrees, Certification, and Licensing

A large number of employers require a bachelor's degree in forensic science or crime technology. The bachelor's degree programs provide training in scientific crime detection, criminal investigation and evidence, investigative photography, fingerprint science, criminal law and court procedures.

The bachelor's degree programs that have received accreditation from the American Academy of Forensic Science typically take five years to complete. Two-year programs are also available but the trend is towards hiring those with bachelor's degrees in the subject. Some colleges offer a master's degree in the topic.

To increase the chances of gaining employment in the profession, some candidates acquire certification in the field. Certification is provided by agencies such as the American Board of Criminalistics and the National Registry in Clinical Chemistry. The American Board of Forensic Toxicology and the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners also offer certification.

Often forensic science technicians have to pass a background check and a drug test. Also, they cannot have a criminal record or a history of drug use.

Resources

Major Employers

The major employers of forensic science technicians are police departments which contain a crime laboratory. State, local and federal government agencies are also primary employers.

Schools for Forensic Science Technicians are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Forensic Science Technicians Skills

Below are the skills needed to be forensic science technicians according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Active Listening3.884.25
Critical Thinking3.884
Reading Comprehension3.884.38
Speaking3.884.12
Writing3.884.12

Forensic Science Technicians Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be forensic science technicians according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Flexibility of Closure4.124.38
Inductive Reasoning4.124.12
Deductive Reasoning44.62
Near Vision44.5
Oral Comprehension44.75

Forensic Science Technicians Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be forensic science technicians according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Law and Government4.414.72
Public Safety and Security3.974.41
English Language3.584.03
Chemistry3.344.03
Computers and Electronics3.154.24

Forensic Science Technicians Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being forensic science technicians according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events4.754.98
Documenting/Recording Information4.64.38
Getting Information4.444.07
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.244.55
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge4.185.21

Forensic Science Technicians Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being forensic science technicians according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work StyleImportance
Attention to Detail4.88
Integrity4.88
Self Control4.55
Analytical Thinking4.47
Stress Tolerance4.47

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Forensic Science Technicians

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Forensic Science Technicians jobs , as of 2017

   
Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim970 $91,120
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale540 $59,570
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin400 $49,280
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington320 $55,190
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach310 $60,360
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford270 $45,710
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater270 $54,300
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson270 $64,330
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue260 $66,500
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land240 $65,290

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to forensic science technicians

Source : 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 23.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Forensic Science Technicians.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.