Certified Forensic Document Examiner: Job Description and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a certified forensic document examiner. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

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Certified forensic document examiners often possess a bachelor's degree, and become certified by accruing years of experience, passing designated exams, and going through training programs. They need a sharp eye for detail and the ability to remain unbiased as they look over evidence.

Essential Information

A certified forensic document examiner, which is a specific type of forensic science technician, verifies whether specific documents have been altered or forged, often testifying in court trials about their findings. They are typically hired by government or law officials and must pass oral and written exams to become certified. Most certification programs require that an applicant have a college degree. Several groups offer certification, and requirements may include an intensive training program in forensic document examination or experience in the field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree often required
Certification Requirements Training program or experience required; applicants must pass written and oral examinations
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 27%* (Forensic science technicians)
Median Salary (2015) $56,320* (Forensic science technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Certified Forensic Document Examiner Job Description

The main role of a certified forensic document examiner is to investigate the reliability of a specific text, including checks, contracts, deeds, or medical records. This is necessary when the source of a document is questionable or unknown. According to the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners (ABFDE), when these professionals look at a questionable document, they check out the type of ink and paper, typeface, and handwriting style. They may also determine if the document was a commercial printing or photocopy. The examinations typically involve comparing the documents in question with substantiated materials. When successful, this procedure may result in effectively identifying changes to a document or verifying its legitimacy.

Certified forensic document examiners are commonly employed within the government, law enforcement, and the legal system. When operating with the police department or a lawyer, their primary work often entails presenting written or verbal testimony concerning document authenticity.

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Certified Forensic Document Examiner Requirements

Typically, a forensic document examiner completes an undergraduate or master's degree program from an accredited academic establishment. There is no specific degree program required for this field; however, a major in forensic science or criminal justice can be helpful.

To become certified, the ABFDE requires completion of a two-year, full-time training program in a forensic laboratory or under an established examiner. When applying for certification one must be practicing as a document examiner and provide a history of professional experience. In addition, candidates must pass an oral, practical, and written examination.

Certification is also possible through the National Association of Document Examiners (NADE). These candidates must complete an application process, presenting their work as an examiner from cases in which they have testified. Additionally, it is necessary to pass an oral and written examination.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of forensic science technicians, including forensic document examiners, is expected to grow by 27% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also reported the median annual salary earned by forensic science technicians in general as $56,320 in May 2015.

Forensic document examiners can become certified through several organizations, provided they hold the minimum of a bachelor's degree and meet the testing and experience requirements. Professionals in this field work within the legal system, law enforcement or government to examine and verify documents for authenticity. Forensic document examiners fall within the career category of forensic science technicians, and can expect an incredibly fast rate of job growth during the 2014-2024 decade.

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