If you are considering a career as a forensic technician, you will need to have a strong background in science. A bachelor's degree in forensic science, biology or chemistry is usually required. Advanced studies can be completed by earning a graduate certificate in this field.
Forensic technicians are scientific and laboratory professionals who help investigators examine crime scenes and gather evidence. These professionals may look for clues that help ascertain what happened by conducting experiments that help law enforcement build a case. Aspiring forensic technicians usually complete a bachelor's degree program related to forensic science or the natural sciences. The program typically includes several laboratory courses that provide hands-on training. Graduates who want to study a specialization, such as toxicology or genetics, may enroll in a graduate certificate program.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree related to forensic science or the natural sciences for entry-level positions; graduate certificate for additional specialized training|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||27%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$56,320 annually|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Educational Requirements to Become a Forensic Technician
In order to analyze evidence and assess scientific information, forensic technicians must have an advanced background in science. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this generally dictates that forensic technicians need to have earned a bachelor's degree or higher in forensics or one of the natural sciences, such as biology or chemistry (www.bls.gov).
Bachelor's Degree Programs in Forensic Science
Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in forensic science typically complete their studies in four years. The first two years of a bachelor's degree program are spent completing general education requirements in addition to core science courses in areas such as biology or biochemistry. Students may also be required to complete supplemental courses in criminology or constitutional law.
The latter two years often include advanced topics in DNA analysis and toxicological studies. Additionally, each student may be required to complete a mandatory internship, in which he or she practices applying classroom techniques to simulated crime-scene scenarios.
A large part of most curricula in forensics programs includes laboratory courses. Lab courses introduce students to the experimental use of equipment such as microscopes, concentrators, diluters or dispersers. For example, students in these courses may be required to introduce toxins into a contained area and then monitor the effects. Other lab courses may delve more deeply into a specific field, such as microbiology.
Although not required, college graduates may want to consider enrolling in graduate certificate programs in order to gain more specialized knowledge and experience within a forensic specialty. These specialties can include materials science, genetics, toxicology or animal science.
Advanced certificate programs typically require the completion of 15 or more credits; they can take about 6-12 months to complete. Courses cover a wide variety of topics ranging from toxic substances to spectroscopy and mineral analysis.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The BLS also noted that jobs for forensic science technicians are projected to grow 27% between 2014 and 2024. These workers earned a median salary of $56,320, according to May 2015 data.
Forensic technicians help investigators solve crimes by conducting experiments. A required bachelor's degree provides background in the core sciences, criminology, DNA analysis, toxicology and laboratory experience, and a graduate certificate offers advanced study in a forensic specialty. Job opportunities for forensic science technicians are predicted to grow by 27% through the year 2024, which is much faster than the average growth for all other occupations.