To become a crime lab analyst, you will need to obtain a bachelor's degree in forensic science, chemistry, biology, physics, pharmacology, toxicology, criminalistics or a related discipline. The exact major that you choose should be based on whether you want to become a crime lab analyst that specializes in working with a certain type of evidence. For example, if you are particularly interested in Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing, you might want to consider majoring in molecular biology or biochemistry. A preference for doing toxicological analyses should cause you to consider choosing to major in organic chemistry or environmental chemistry, and your elective courses should be in disciplines such as entomology, botany and zoology. Once you have earned your degree in a field that will allow you to work in the profession, you will need to complete crime lab analyst training programs before you actually become a crime lab analyst.
If you intend to work in the United States, you will be required to submit to a criminal background check; if you do not have a clean background, you might not be able to secure employment in the field. Keep in mind that as the industry grows, some crime laboratories in the United States are requiring degrees higher than a bachelor's degree, such as a master's degree, which requires approximately two additional years of study. Other considerations in addition to educational ones should be made, such as what you can expect for an average salary, the typical work environment for the profession and the normal daily duties you will be expected to perform. Even if you choose to become a crime lab analyst who specializes in DNA testing for example, unless you work for a very large laboratory, you shouldn't expect to spend your days analyzing only DNA.
Depending on your experience and the region in which you live, you can expect to earn anywhere from between $28,000 US Dollars and $70,000 US Dollars annually if you reside in the United States. It is advisable to realize before making preparations to become a crime lab analyst that, typically, most of your work will be performed inside the laboratory. There might be occasions, however, when you would need to work in the field to assist a crime scene technician with collecting evidence to be taken back to the laboratory. Some of the evidence you might have to work with if you become a crime lab analyst includes firearms, so people who are uncomfortable handling a gun might not work well in this profession. Your decision to become a crime lab analyst should be motivated by a strong desire to help law enforcement officers and investigators to solve criminal cases.