In popular media, the work of forensic science technicians seems fast-paced and exciting. In reality, the work is slow and painstaking—but still extremely important. Forensic science technicians often specialize in either crime scene investigation, or laboratory analysis. At a crime scene, they record observations, take photos, and collect evidence. In the lab, they perform tests on weapons and substances such as fiber, hair and tissue to determine a connection to the crime… and to a suspect. They also write reports to document their findings and the laboratory techniques used. Some forensic technicians specialize in particular areas such as fingerprinting, DNA, handwriting analysis, or ballistics. Digital forensics analysts specialize in computer-based crimes. They collect and analyze data to expose electronic fraud, scams, and identity theft. Most forensic science technicians work for police departments, crime labs, morgues, and coroners’ offices. They may work outside in all types of weather, and divide their time between labs and offices. While they gain expertise and deductive skills from on-the-job experience, forensic science technicians typically need to start with at least a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology, or forensic science. Forensic science technicians might be called upon to testify as expert witnesses in court. Their evidence and testimony can help send the guilty to prison…or clear the innocent.
What they do:
Collect, identify, classify, and analyze physical evidence related to criminal investigations. Perform tests on weapons or substances, such as fiber, hair, and tissue to determine significance to investigation. May testify as expert witnesses on evidence or crime laboratory techniques. May serve as specialists in area of expertise, such as ballistics, fingerprinting, handwriting, or biochemistry.
On the job, you would:
Keep records and prepare reports detailing findings, investigative methods, and laboratory techniques.
Collect evidence from crime scenes, storing it in conditions that preserve its integrity.
Testify in court about investigative or analytical methods or findings.
Safety and Government
law and government
public safety and security
Arts and Humanities
Math and Science
Engineering and Technology
computers and electronics
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
reading work related information
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
People and Technology Systems
thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it
listen and understand what people say
read and understand what is written
Ideas and Logic
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
use rules to solve problems
see hidden patterns
quickly compare groups of letters, numbers, pictures, or other things
Hand and Finger Use
keep your arm or hand steady
People interested in this work like activities that include ideas, thinking, and figuring things out.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Graphics or photo imaging software
Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
Data base user interface and query software
National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database
bachelor's degree or some college usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.