Forensic Practitioner: Job Description and Education Requirements
Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a forensic practitioner. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about the degree programs, job duties and certifications to find out if this is the career for you.
Forensic practitioners, also referred to as crime scene investigators and forensic science technicians, examine evidence in order to provide support in criminal investigations, including giving testimonies during criminal trials. This career requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree; advanced degrees or certifications are recommended. This career would appeal to individuals with interests in criminal justice, biological sciences and the legal system.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Optional certifications available|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*||6%|
|Median Pay (2013)*||$52,360 annually|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (for all forensic science technicians)
Job Descriptions of Forensic Practitioners
Forensic practitioners collect, analyze and record evidence to aid in criminal investigations. They use details drawn from fingerprints, bodily fluids, footprints and ballistics samples to form a series of possible conclusions for crime scenes. They are also responsible for analyzing hair, blood splatter or DNA. Much of their analysis takes place in a laboratory setting with access to analytical software and criminal databases.
These professionals often serve as expert witnesses for criminal cases that go to trial. Proper collection and storage of evidence is essential for their findings to hold up in a court of law. Forensic practitioners must also document their conclusions adhering to approved procedures and laws. They typically possess a specialty in one area of expertise such as toxicology, DNA analysis or weapons examination. As forensic techniques and technological capabilities evolve, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected slower-than-average job growth of 6% for forensic science technicians from 2012-2022. The BLS also reported that the median salary for forensic science technicians, as of 2013, was $52,360.
Education Requirements of Forensic Practitioners
Most forensic practitioners need a bachelor's degree, preferably in forensic science or another natural science. Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science programs can be completed in about four years and must be accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (www.aafs.org). Students will explore topics in genetic sequencing, evidence collection, biochemistry, bloodstain analysis, criminal justice and anatomy. Some bachelor's degree programs require students to analyze mock crime scenes and complete forensics internships.
Master of Science in Forensic Science programs typically take two years to complete, although some institutions have fast track options where talented students can earn a bachelor's degree in natural science and their master's degree in five years. While not required for entry-level positions, such advanced degree programs are research intensive and provide further opportunities for forensic practitioners to develop a specialty and network with current professionals.
Specialized voluntary certifications are also available in the field for forensic practitioners. Certifications are available through the American Board of Forensic Toxicology and the American Board of Criminalistics. Candidates must hold at least a bachelor's degree and some experience in the field.
Related to Forensic Practitioner: Job Description and Education Requirements
- Recently Updated
See our list of free online courses and classes for aspiring forensic scientists. Learn about what courses are available and...
Forensic social work concentrates on the intersection of social work and criminal justice, law enforcement or corrections....
Internal accounting controls, digital investigations of cybercrime, the role of technology in accounting and fraud - all of...
Forensic medicine is the field of medicine in which pathologists work. Pathologists are physicians who perform autopsies and...
- Schools for Aspiring Forensic Technicians: How to Choose
- Forensic Pathology Technician Schools and Colleges
- List of the Best Schools for Bachelor's Degrees in Forensics
- Massage Therapy Certificate: Program Overview
- Associate's in Administrative Office Specialist: Degree Overview
- MBA in Marketing Strategy: Degree Information
- Insurance Coding: Diploma Summary