An evidence technician specializes in the handling and storage of legal evidence. Evidence technicians may attend crime scene investigations or work in a laboratory where they examine the obtained evidence and make a report. A bachelor's degree in an applicable field is required, though some evidence technicians have a graduate degree.
Evidence technicians, also referred to as forensic science or crime scene technicians, gather, identify and analyze evidence left at the scene of a crime. Employers often require evidence technicians to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in forensic science, criminal justice or a related field. On-the-job training is also an essential aspect of the profession.
|Required Education||A Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science or Criminal Justice; master's degree could lead to career advancement|
|Additional Requirements||On-the-job training|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||27% for all forensic science technicians|
|Mean Annual Salary (2015)||$60,090 for all forensic science technicians|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Duties of Evidence Technicians
Some evidence technicians visit crime scenes in order to collect physical evidence and take photographs, while other jobs are based in laboratories and may not require site visits. Specific job duties vary depending on employers; however, an evidence technician's primary duty is to analyze data and evidence, such as fingerprints, tire marks, footprints, material fibers, gunshot residue and DNA. They perform tests on that evidence and provide investigators with written reports of their findings. These detailed reports include laboratory and evidence-handling techniques.
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for forensic science technicians are expected to increase by 27% between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than average. The BLS also reported that forensic science technicians held 14,070 jobs and earned a mean annual wage of $60,090 in May 2015. Management, scientific, and technical consulting services had the highest level of employment for forensic technicians. Behind them were local government agencies and state government.
Evidence technicians work extensively with technology such as computers, laboratory apparatus and electronic equipment. They typically operate in a team environment, often collaborating with forensic and medical experts. Forensic science technicians must follow proper collection and storage procedures of evidence to prevent contamination. At times, they're called upon to testify in court.
The BLS states that individuals holding a bachelor's degree or higher in applied science technology or a related field might increase employment and career advancement prospects. Obtaining a master's degree can lead to advanced research or instructional positions in the field. To expand career options, evidence technicians may seek specialization in areas like fingerprinting, ballistics, biochemistry, crime scene preservation or handwriting. With additional training and experience an evidence technician may advance to hold a scientist or management position.
Technical and analytical skills are mandatory for an evidence technician. A relevant college degree is essential, and a master's or higher is beneficial for those seeking to become specialists. Job growth is very promising as an increase of 27% is expected from 2014 to 2024; however, the competition will be intense since this a rather small field.