Evidence Technician: Career Info & Requirements

Learn about the job responsibilities of an evidence technician. Find out educational requirements, coursework, salary and employment outlook to determine if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for an Evidence Technician

Evidence technicians aid forensic scientists and investigators by helping to identify, secure, collect, and process evidence. Evidence technicians help survey the scene of a crime or incident; write reports; and index, catalog, and label evidence. Evidence technicians typically work for state or local governments, often in some sort of law enforcement capacity.

Education Associate or bachelor's degree preferable for beginning a career
Job Skills Attention to detail, organization, interpersonal skills
Median Salary (2015)* $56,320 (for forensic science technicians)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 27% (for forensic science technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

It may be feasible to start your career as an evidence technician with only a high school diploma and on-the-job training, but most people aiming to become an evidence technician have an associate's or bachelor's degree in a relevant program. Relevant degree programs include fields like criminal justice, pre-law, and forensic science. Courses you may take in such programs include evidence collection, evidence processing, cataloging and labeling, and written and spoken communication. An associate's degree in one of these programs can be completed in two years, and a bachelor's degree qualifying you for an entry-level position as an evidence technician can often be completed in four years.

Abilities Needed

Working as an evidence technician requires careful attention to detail, discipline, and keen intuition. Because they interact with many co-workers and the information they pass on is a crucial component of an investigation, evidence technicians must also have good organizational habits and good written and verbal interpersonal communication skills.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reported that economic data from May 2015 showed a median annual salary of $56,320 for forensic science technicians. Due to demand from state and local governments and law enforcement agencies, employment for evidence technicians is expected to grow twenty-seven percent from 2014-2024. Some of the metropolitan regions with the highest employment for evidence technicians include Phoenix, Arizona; Los Angeles, California; and Washington, D.C., according to the BLS.

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Those who want to actively participate in investigating and solving crimes should consider becoming a detective. Detectives collect crime scene evidence for analysis, interview witnesses and suspects, document findings in written reports and participate in other activities associated with arresting and convicting criminals. Individuals who wish to enter this profession will usually need to graduate from a law enforcement academy, which includes completing the required practical department training. Some employers may give preference to those with college degrees, and most detectives are police officers who have been promoted after a period of time on the force. According to the BLS, police and detectives should expect to see a four percent increase in employment between 2014 and 2024. Detectives and criminal investigators received a median yearly salary of $77,210 in 2015, as estimated by the BLS.

Fire Investigator

Performing many of the same duties as a detective, a fire investigator focuses on accidents and crimes that involve explosions and fires. These investigators collect forensic evidence, reconstruct the crime scene using drawings and photographs, consult with scientific and engineering experts, participate in court proceedings and create detailed reports. In some cases, they even have the power to carry a weapon and arrest suspects. Most people who enter this field have previous experience in law enforcement or fire fighting and are promoted into the position. Although many of these professionals only have a high school education, employers often prefer to hire those with undergraduate degrees. Additional training and certification requirements depend on the agency and state. In May of 2015, the BLS stated that fire investigators earned a median salary of $56,730. Average growth of five percent is predicted for fire investigators and inspectors during the 2014-2024 decade, also reported by the BLS.

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