People who collect and study physical evidence related to crimes are called forensic science technicians. They either focus on laboratory analysis or crime scene investigation. But the biggest portion of their time of their work is spent writing reports. Forensic science technicians may choose to become a criminalist, fingerprint examiner, crime scene investigator, or evidence technician. Most employers accept applicants who earned a bachelor’s degree with courses in biology or chemistry.
Forensic science technician education requirements
Aspiring forensic science technicians need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in forensic science or in any natural science, such as biology, chemistry, physics, or molecular biology. Some schools offer it as a major, but many universities and colleges offer it as a field of study under another major. The American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS) recommends that aspiring forensic science technicians should enroll in a major that includes at least 24 academic units of chemistry or biology and extensive coursework in math. It also helps to take classes in forensic archaeology, criminal law, criminal justice, public speaking, statistics, and composition.
A graduate certificate in forensic science is also available to students who took a lot of biological science courses. The program prepares students for work as independent forensic investigators or a position in crime labs. Typical coursework include criminalistics, forensic anthropology, forensic photography, and crime scene reconstruction. Lab coursework teaches students how to use laboratory instruments and equipment to analyze crime scene evidence. They may also take a course in investigations, which teaches students to investigate how the crime was committed to the process of presenting evidence in criminal courts. A graduate certificate program may also focus on presenting expert forensic testimony and identifying illegal substances. Other course topics include scene documentation, microscopic identification, arson, chemical analysis, and digital imaging processing.
Forensic science technicians who want to occupy supervisory, senior-level and management positions might want to take a graduate degree. A master’s degree in forensic science usually focuses more on getting a career specialty and can be completed in two years. Graduate students can choose to focus on a specialty area, such as digital forensics, crime scene investigation, or DNA analysis. The program consists of classroom coursework and hands-on experience in forensic labs.
A master’s degree program usually includes subjects such as biology, biochemistry, forensic science courses on death investigations, forensic pathology, and forensic science laws. Other areas tackled in the program are physiology, anatomy, toxicology, forensic anthropology, and US criminal law. They might also discuss about natural disease, human identification, organ system, injury causation, and forensic odontology. Those who want to focus more on crime scene investigation have to study evidence collection, evidence documentation, and the techniques to preserve evidence. Before the program ends, students have to complete an internship at a crime lab.
Forensic science technician training requirements
Forensic science technicians usually participate in on-the-job training to prepare them in handling cases on their own.
As starting crime scene investigators, they usually act as support for experienced investigators. They usually learn in the process, especially when it comes to the proper procedures used to collect and document evidence.
Forensic science technicians are taught laboratory specialties while working. The duration of their training varies. They have to pass a proficiency exam or get accreditation before they can work on independent cases.
These technicians have to take continuing education courses regularly to stay up to date with the latest developments in technology and science used to collect and analyze evidence.
Forensic science technician licenses and certifications
Forensic science technicians may earn a voluntary certification from the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC). Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in a natural science and at least two years of forensics work experience. They can choose either the ‘Fellow’ or the ‘Diplomate,’ which both require candidates to take and pass a 3-hour exam. Forensic science technicians who have not reached the two-year experience requirement may obtain an ‘Affiliate’ membership from the ABC.