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Forensic Technician Job Description, Duties and Required Skills

A bachelor's degree is necessary preparation for a career as a forensic technician. Learn about schooling, skills and job responsibilities to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Forensic technicians manage crime scene evidence for police departments. Also called criminalists, crime scene investigators or evidence technicians, they play an integral role in the catching, conviction and acquittal of suspects in cases of all levels.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Projected Growth (2012-2022)* 6%
Average Salary (2013)* $57,340

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Forensic Technician Job Description

The general tasks of a forensic technician include collecting evidence, analyzing collected evidence in a laboratory setting and writing reports summarizing the results of this analysis. Forensic technicians may specialize in particular types of evidence, including fingerprinting, biochemistry, ballistics or handwriting analysis. Forensic technicians may also be asked to testify in court cases, especially in an area of individual expertise.

Day-to-Day Duties of a Forensic Technician

Crime Scene Duties

Forensic science technicians work mostly in two places: on crime scenes and in crime labs. On crime scenes, they are responsible for the careful collection and preservation of evidence. They may also take part in brainstorming and helping to reconstruct crimes by theorizing about the relationships between pieces of evidence collected.

Lab Duties

In the lab, forensic technicians interpret evidence collected from crime scenes. This includes identifying unknown substances and objects, theorizing about their relevance and relationship to the suspect and victim. DNA typing can help identify the person who shed blood or other body fluids at the scene. Forensic technicians may even identify drug powders or determine which type of gun fired a bullet, explains the California Employment Development Department. Then, forensic techs compile and document the results of analysis into reports.

Consultation and Testimony Duties

Forensic science technicians may consult with experts in various fields (like medical professionals, electronics experts or chemists) to enhance and clarify their own interpretations of collected evidence. Regularly, forensic technicians testify in court and report to police departments about the evidence collected and the techniques used in the lab to analyze it.

Required Skills

Completion of a bachelor's degree in one of the natural sciences is necessary for forensic technicians, who must have well-honed analytical thinking and reasoning skills. They must also have good control over their emotions and possess the ability to work both individually and as part of a team while under large amounts of stress. Necessary skills to be a forensic technician can be broken down into three sets: skills needed in the field, skills required in the lab and skills needed to communicate the results of evidence analysis.

Skills for Crime Scene Investigation

In the field, forensic technicians need to know how to collect both biological and non-biological samples without contaminating them. They need pattern recognition and attentive listening ability.

Laboratory Skills in Forensic Analysis

In the lab, forensic technicians must have a working knowledge of chemistry, the scientific method and computers. They need to conduct chemical analysis tests under lab safety protocols. They should be familiar with data entry and analysis programs.

Communication Skills for Court and Reports

Forensic technicians need the ability to communicate both orally and in writing with those within and outside of the workplace. When reporting to superiors or giving testimony in court cases, they must be able to demonstrate and explain methods used both on site and in the lab. They show how conclusions concerning crime evidence have been reached and explain why these conclusions are logical.

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