Crime Lab Technician Schools and Colleges: How to Choose

Crime lab technicians analyze organic and trace evidence using specialized equipment to determine details of a crime scene. Lab technicians generally have a solid background in sciences, especially biology, chemistry or forensics. Several schools offer relevant education for those interested in laboratory sciences and criminology.

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Crime lab technicians work closely with law enforcement officers to collect and analyze physical evidence, such as DNA, drugs or explosives. Technicians also conduct drug and chemical testing so a bachelor's degree in laboratory sciences, chemistry or forensic science may offer the appropriate training for this career.

Schools with Forensic Science Programs

This list of colleges and universities identifies some schools offering forensic science programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition* (2015-2016)
California State University-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Public Minor In-state undergraduate $6,355; Out-of-state undergraduate $17,515
SUNY Buffalo State University Buffalo, NY 4-year, Public Master's In-state graduate $10,870; Out-of-state graduate $22,210
CUNY-John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state undergraduate $6,810; Out-of-state undergraduate $13,920
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Master's In-state graduate $16,122; Out-of-state graduate $31,674
Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 4-year, Public Master's In-state graduate $19,328; Out-of-state graduate $33,142
West Virginia University Morgantown, WV 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state undergraduate $7,632; Out-of-state undergraduate $21,432
Boston University Boston, MS 4-year, Private Master's Graduate $47,422
George Washington University Washington, DC 4-year, Private Master's, Graduate Certificate Graduate $27,810

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

There are some noteworthy items to consider when choosing a forensic science school.

  • Students may consider the state of a school's laboratory facilities prior to enrolling; schools that have state-of-the art tools and equipment offer practical training on these machines and provide students with an introduction to the technology used in the field.
  • Programs with work-study options provide opportunities to learn from experienced professionals currently working in crime scene investigations.
  • The potential career options offered by a particular major could help applicants choose which program would best suit them. For instance, some schools offer a focus on forensic examination while others have specializations in forensic anthropology.
  • Students who want to complete a bachelor's and master's in forensic science may have to complete these programs at different institutions.

Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science

Forensic science degree programs are interdisciplinary. Forensic science majors can also choose to double major in chemistry. Some programs offer specializations for aspiring evidence analysts and technicians, such as forensic biology or crime scene investigation. Forensic science programs typically include research and internship opportunities.

Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

Undergraduate programs in chemistry cover a variety of chemistry sciences, such as organic and inorganic chemistry, environmental chemistry and physical chemistry. Significant lab and research opportunities are available in a chemistry program, and many schools offer career services for chemistry graduates.

A number of public and private 4-year colleges and universities offer forensic science programs. It's possible to complete a bachelor's or master's degree in forensic science, and students should ensure the program they pursue fits with their long-term career goals, has excellent lab facilities, and includes work-study options to gain hands-on experience.

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