At a minimum, a bachelor’s degree is required to become a Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) analyst. These forensic science professionals work with evidence that may contain genetic material to analyze and sequence it. They can link a suspect to a scene, evaluate samples to see if they come from related individuals, and perform similar tasks. Some work for government labs, offering law enforcement support, while others may be employed by private companies that provide genetic testing on request for members of the public.
Some colleges and universities have a degree program specifically in forensic science, which can be a good choice for someone who wants to become a DNA analyst. Other options include majoring in biology, biochemistry, and related fields. While in school, students may want to see if they can participate in research or internships to develop lab skills. In addition to creating records on a resume, internships can provide people with practical experience and professional connections that may lead to work after graduation.
New graduates may apply directly into forensic labs. Their applications are more likely to be viewed favorably if they have internship experience in forensic settings, and if they’ve attended forensic science conferences and display interest in career development. Other graduates may want to consider a master’s program. This provides additional training which can help someone become a DNA analyst. In a highly competitive lab, advanced degrees may be preferred.
After someone has become a DNA analyst, membership in a professional organization can be a good idea. Such groups provide people with conferences, trade publications, and other tools for career development and networks. They may offer opportunities like closed job boards for people interested in seeking new employment, or internship applications that are only open to members. Membership can help working analysts refine their skills and develop more competitive resumes.
It is important to keep up with the field after completing training to become a DNA analyst. Science is constantly advancing, and techniques may change over time. People who are familiar with the latest methods and equipment are more flexible and can be more useful for their employers. Some labs may assist with costs for workshops and trainings if their personnel show promise, and are committed to remaining in the field and maintaining their professional skills. This can allow someone who has become a DNA analyst an opportunity to keep learning and offering the best in DNA evaluation to clients of the lab.