With a bachelor's degree and on-the-job training, it is possible to begin a career as a crime lab technologist. Crime lab technologists collect and analyze evidence from crime scenes, and may specialize is a specific area.
A crime lab technologist, also known as a forensic science technician or analyst, collects and analyzes physical evidence to aid police in criminal investigations. Crime lab techs typically hold bachelor's degrees in a natural science, such as chemistry or biology. They must be skilled in using the technology and equipment needed for their jobs and usually complete an extensive period of on-the-job training. Many crime lab technologists specialize in a particular area of forensic analysis, such as fingerprint analysis .
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in a natural science|
|Other Requirements||On-the-job training|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||27%|
|Mean Annual Salary (2015)*||$60,090|
Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Education Requirements for Crime Lab Technologists
Crime lab technologist positions combine knowledge of criminology and science and typically require a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, forensic science or a natural science. The type of degree may dictate which forensic area a technologist eventually specializes in. For example, a position involving DNA analysis might require a bachelor's degree in biology, while a chemistry degree program may lead to a career examining trace evidence.
In addition to formal education, crime lab technologist careers involve the use of special equipment and require relevant laboratory experience, either from school or on-the-job training. According to O*NET, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, specialized equipment and technology includes blood collection kits, electrostatic dust print lifters and DNA sequence analysis software. Since crime lab technologists are a component of police investigations, the hiring departments generally require a clean criminal record from applicants and run a background check.
Career Information for Crime Lab Technologists
Forensic science specialties include medical examiner, latent fingerprint examiner and forensic engineer. Some of these positions involve travel, as with crime scene examiners who must be at the site of a crime to identify and collect physical evidence, whereas other analysts may strictly work within a laboratory, maintaining and analyzing material. Many positions also involve acting as an expert witness during criminal trials.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), forensic science technician positions are projected to increase by 27% from 2014-2024. The BLS listed the mean annual salary for forensic science technicians as $60,090 in 2015. The highest-paying positions at that time were in the executive branch of the federal government, which paid an average of $100,400 per year. State and local governments employed the largest number of crime lab technologists in 2015, as per BLS data.
Job opportunities for crime lab technologists are expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations from 2014-2024. Applicants with a bachelor's degree and on-the-job experience will be ready to enter this career field. Crime lab technologists analyze and collect physical evidence from crime scenes, share their evidence with police to solve crimes, and may be required to testify in court regarding their findings.