How Do I Become a Forensic Science Technician?

T. L. Childree
T. L. Childree
A forensic science technician evaluates crime scene evidence.
A forensic science technician evaluates crime scene evidence.

A forensic science technician gathers evidence from a crime scene and scientifically analyzes it for possible presentation in a court of law. You must be very detail-oriented and possess excellent analytical thinking skills to become a forensic science technician. A certain amount of formal education and on-the-job-training is also required for this occupation. It might also be helpful to seek voluntary professional certification in this field after fulfilling the necessary educational and work experience requirements. After you become a forensic science technician, employment can usually be found within a wide variety of areas, including forensic laboratories, law enforcement agencies, and academic institutions.

Most forensic science technicians receive college training in subjects such as forensic science, biology or chemistry.
Most forensic science technicians receive college training in subjects such as forensic science, biology or chemistry.

Certain personal qualities are needed to become a forensic science technician. You must be a very detail-oriented person to locate and collect even the tiniest bits of evidence from a crime scene, and a great deal of persistence is also needed to complete multiple tests on a single piece of evidence. The results of a scientific analysis must be very accurate for use in a court of law and you should be able to perform your duties with great precision. Excellent analytical thinking skills are also required to succeed at this profession. In addition to these skills, you must be able to work as part of a larger team of scientists and technicians and effectively communicate your findings.

An associate’s or bachelor’s degree is typically required to become a forensic science technician. Most technicians receive college training in subjects such as forensic science, biology, or chemistry. Other acceptable majors include physics and molecular biology. Additional coursework in subjects such as criminal law, criminal justice, and forensic archaeology may be needed as well. Some technicians choose to pursue a master’s degree in order to work in management or supervisory positions.

Along with your formal education, you will also need a certain amount of on-the-job training for this career. This hands-on training may last for up to two years depending on the scope of your duties. Most technicians begin performing simple tasks as an assistant in a forensic laboratory. You will be given additional responsibilities as your skills and experience increase. Many technicians are taught a particular specialty such as trace evidence, latent fingerprints, or DNA analysis during this training period.

Although not necessarily required, it might be beneficial to seek some type of voluntary professional certification after you complete your education and on-the-job-training. Obtaining professional certification will ensure that your skills and knowledge are always up-to-date with changing technology. In the United States, a widely-recognized certification is available to qualified technicians through the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC). Annual proficiency testing is required to maintain this professional certification.

After completing your education and work experience requirements, employment can usually be found with police departments, forensic laboratories, and coroner’s offices, as well as academic institutions and certain government agencies. You will usually be responsible for the identification, collection, and analysis of crime-related evidence. You may utilize mobile equipment to conduct tests at the scene of a crime or collect evidence for future laboratory analysis. After this evidence has been properly analyzed, it can then be used for criminal prosecution in a court of law.

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    • A forensic science technician evaluates crime scene evidence.
      By: corepics
      A forensic science technician evaluates crime scene evidence.
    • Most forensic science technicians receive college training in subjects such as forensic science, biology or chemistry.
      By: Leah-Anne Thompson
      Most forensic science technicians receive college training in subjects such as forensic science, biology or chemistry.