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Career profile Forensic Science Technician

Also known as Crime Laboratory Analyst, Crime Scene Analyst, Crime Scene Technician (Crime Scene Tech), CSI (Crime Scene Investigator), Evidence Technician, Forensic Science Examiner, Forensic Scientist, Forensic Specialist, Latent Fingerprint Examiner, Latent Print Examiner

Forensic Science Technician

Also known as Crime Laboratory Analyst, Crime Scene Analyst, Crime Scene Technician (Crime Scene Tech)

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$36,630 - $100,910 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Writing
Knowledge Areas
  • Law and Government
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Chemistry
Core tasks
  • Keep records and prepare reports detailing findings, investigative methods, and laboratory techniques.
  • Collect evidence from crime scenes, storing it in conditions that preserve its integrity.
  • Use chemicals or other substances to examine latent fingerprint evidence and compare developed prints to those of known persons in databases.
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What does a Forensic Science Technician do?

Forensic Science Technicians collect, identify, classify, and analyze physical evidence related to criminal investigations.

In addition, Forensic Science Technicians

  • perform tests on weapons or substances, such as fiber, hair, and tissue to determine significance to investigation,
  • may testify as expert witnesses on evidence or crime laboratory techniques,
  • may serve as specialists in area of expertise, such as ballistics, fingerprinting, handwriting, or biochemistry.

What kind of tasks does a Forensic Science Technician perform regularly?

Forensic Science Technicians are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Keep records and prepare reports detailing findings, investigative methods, and laboratory techniques.
  • Collect evidence from crime scenes, storing it in conditions that preserve its integrity.
  • Testify in court about investigative or analytical methods or findings.
  • Use photographic or video equipment to document evidence or crime scenes.
  • Visit morgues, examine scenes of crimes, or contact other sources to obtain evidence or information to be used in investigations.
  • Reconstruct crime scenes to determine relationships among pieces of evidence.
  • Operate and maintain laboratory equipment and apparatus.
  • Confer with ballistics, fingerprinting, handwriting, documents, electronics, medical, chemical, or metallurgical experts concerning evidence and its interpretation.
  • Prepare solutions, reagents, or sample formulations needed for laboratory work.
  • Train new technicians or other personnel on forensic science techniques.

The above responsibilities are specific to Forensic Science Technicians. More generally, Forensic Science Technicians are involved in several broader types of activities:

Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

What is a Forensic Science Technician salary?

The median salary for a Forensic Science Technician is $60,590, and the average salary is $64,890. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Forensic Science Technician salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Forensic Science Technicians earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Forensic Science Technicians earn less than $36,630 per year, 25% earn less than $46,460, 75% earn less than $79,330, and 90% earn less than $100,910.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Forensic Science Technicians is expected to change by 15.1%, and there should be roughly 2,500 open positions for Forensic Science Technicians every year.

Median annual salary
$60,590
Typical salary range
$36,630 - $100,910
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
15.1%

What personality traits are common among Forensic Science Technicians?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Forensic Science Technician are usually higher in their Investigative, Realistic, and Conventional interests.

Forensic Science Technicians typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Forensic Science Technicians typically have strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Forensic Science Technicians typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Forensic Science Technician tend to value Support, Recognition, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Forensic Science Technicians strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Forensic Science Technicians moderately value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Lastly, Forensic Science Technicians moderately value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Forensic Science Technicians must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, integrity, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Forensic Science Technicians, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

What education and training do Forensic Science Technicians need?

Many Forensic Science Technicians will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Forensic Science Technicians usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Forensic Science Technicians

  • 2.9% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 14.5% completed high school or secondary school
  • 23.5% completed some college coursework
  • 13.7% earned a Associate's degree
  • 31.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 10.9% earned a Master's degree
  • 3.5% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic Science Technicians may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as law and government, public safety and security, or chemistry knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Forensic Science Technicians might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Chemistry
Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

Important Abilities needed by Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic Science Technicians must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Forensic Science Technicians need abilities such as inductive reasoning, flexibility of closure, and oral comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Forensic Science Technicians, ranked by their relative importance.

Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Flexibility of Closure
The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Critical Skills needed by Forensic Science Technicians

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Forensic Science Technicians frequently use skills like reading comprehension, active listening, and writing to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Forensic Science Technicians, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Writing
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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