Fingerprint Technician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a fingerprint technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

View popular schools

Fingerprint technicians work in forensics laboratories, police forces or for other law agencies, specializing in the collection, analysis, comparison and examination of fingerprint evidence for a criminal case. A bachelor's degree and internship are the typical requirements for this field, with coursework including criminal justice, biology, and statistics.

Essential Information

A fingerprint technician is a type of forensic laboratory analyst who processes and examines fingerprint evidence in criminal investigations. A position as a fingerprint technician often requires a 4-year degree, job training, experience and professional certification.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in natural science or forensic science
Other Requirements Significant job training, laboratory work and internship experience
Certification Professional certification through the International Association for Identification (IAI)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 27% (for forensic science technicians)
Median Salary (2015)* $56,320 (for forensic science technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of a Fingerprint Technician

As a forensic scientist, a fingerprint technician works in a crime laboratory or within a local, state or federal law enforcement agency. A fingerprint technician works to reconstruct the circumstances and events surrounding a crime scene, with the ultimate goal of uncovering the truth, based on evidence. This involves collecting, examining, analyzing and comparing partial or latent fingerprint evidence to identify suspects and victims in criminal cases. Fingerprint technicians must also communicate their findings with supervisors, investigators, court officials and law enforcement personnel, either in person or in writing.

Job Duties

At a crime scene, in the morgue or in the laboratory, a fingerprint technician uses various techniques to collect fingerprint evidence. Fingerprint technicians also receive fingerprint cards and records for comparison and examination. Using photographic and computer equipment, fingerprints are collected, enhanced, enlarged, compared and verified by studying ridge details and unique characteristics. Computer databases, such as the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), allow fingerprint technicians to enter, scan and search through records to identify individuals based on fingerprints.

Fingerprint technicians also follow carefully established evidence handing protocols to maintain chain of custody, prevent contamination and ensure the integrity of case files. They document their findings in written reports and prepare verbal explanations for presentation to law enforcement agencies and for courtroom testimony, which may require the creation of display materials or other explanatory aids. Depending on level of experience and expertise, fingerprint technicians may also supervise and train other laboratory personnel in fingerprint collection and identification techniques. They may also be required to serve as expert witnesses in a courtroom.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Corrections Admin
  • Corrections, Probation, and Parole
  • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
  • Criminal Science
  • Forensic Science
  • Juvenile Corrections
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Police Science and Law Enforcement
  • Securities Services Mgmt
  • Security and Theft Prevention Services

Requirements

Educational Requirements

As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a job as a forensic science technician requires a bachelor's degree in a natural science or forensic science and significant job training to acquire a position in a crime laboratory (www.bls.gov). Bachelor's degree programs in forensic science combine multi-disciplinary science coursework in chemistry, biology, physics and statistics with forensic science and criminal justice, which the BLS recommends as appropriate preparation for careers in this field. Extensive laboratory work and internships with local crime laboratories or other agencies serve a vital role in providing students with hands-on technical expertise.

Experience and Certification

As of October 2011, most job postings for fingerprint technicians required a bachelor's degree, several years of full-time job experience as a fingerprint technician and professional certification through the International Association for Identification (IAI), which offers 5-year certification in latent print and tenprint categories (www.theiai.org). The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) and the IAI both explained that professional certification is helpful in establishing a fingerprint technician's credibility, especially when he or she provides expert witness testimony (www.aafs.org).

IAI Tenprint Examiner Certification requires the completion of training or continuing education credits relevant to tenprint material and delivering courtroom testimony as an expert witness; additionally, candidates must have an associate's degree and two years of experience, or the equivalent. The test consists of print comparisons, written and technical examinations, a case review and an oral board review.

To become a Certified Latent Print Examiner (CLPE), individuals must have logged at least 80 hours of training and have obtained the appropriate combination of education and job experience, the IAI explained. The examination process includes comparison of latent prints, examination of patterns in inked impressions, a multiple-choice test and a review process with an oral or presentation component.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Forensic science technicians earned an annual median salary of $56,320, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2015. The BLS predicted 27% job growth for these technicians from 2014-2024, with job openings relying on governmental budgets.

In addition to work experience and a bachelor's degree, most fingerprint technicians need to attain professional certification. They must follow strict protocols in order to uphold the integrity of evidence, and they need to carefully document all of their findings through both written reports and oral presentations. Job opportunities for forensic science technicians, including fingerprint technicians, are predicted to increase by 27% through the year 2024.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • MS in Criminal Justice
    • BS in Criminal Justice - Crime Scene Investigation
    • BS in Corrections
    • BSA - Auditing and Forensic Accountancy
    • BS in Criminal Justice
    • BS in Cybersecurity
    • BS in Criminal Justice - Forensic Psychology
    • AAS in Criminal Justice
    • AAS in Public Safety and Security
    • AAS in Criminal Justice and Criminology
    • AAS in Fire Science

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • BA: Criminal Justice
    • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
    • BA: Criminal Justice - Homeland Security
    • BS: Cybersecurity
    • AA: Criminal Justice
    • AA: Cybersecurity

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Professional Studies in Cyber Policy and Risk Analysis
    • MS in Data Science: Financial Crime
    • MBA in Cyber Policy
    • MBA in Cybersecurity
    • MBA Economic Crime and Fraud Management
    • MS Cybersecurity - Computer Forensics
    • BS in Cybersecurity - Cybercrime and Fraud Investigation
    • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
    • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation
    • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Fraud Prevention and Detection
    • BS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations
    • BS in Cybersecurity

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Arts in Law - Criminal Justice
    • Master of Arts in Law - National Security
    • Master of Public Administration - Emergency Management and Homeland Security
    • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
    • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
    • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Corrections
    • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Criminal Justice
    • Bachelor of Arts in Law and National Security
    • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Homeland Security

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
    • Master of Science in Cyber Security
    • Master of Science in Cyber Security (Bridge)
    • MS in Leadership: Disaster Preparedness & Executive Fire Leadership
    • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity
    • B.S. in Cybersecurity

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
    • Associate of Science in Investigation & Security

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your age?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?