Evidence technicians, sometimes referred to as evidence techs, work in law enforcement and primarily gather, manage and store crime scene evidence. The specific educational background and experience needed to become an evidence tech varies among law enforcement agencies, but at least a high school diploma or the equivalent generally is required. A background working in law enforcement as an officer or in a supporting position, an associate's degree, college courses in police science and training in the collecting and processing of evidence might be required as well.
There are certificate programs in evidence collecting available at some colleges and vocational schools that will help you learn the basics if you want to become an evidence tech. Some law enforcement agencies will train candidates who have administrative or secretarial backgrounds and strong skills in the areas of data processing, record keeping and communication. Having some combination of skills and experience in both law enforcement and administrative areas can be beneficial.
To become an evidence tech, you usually will have to undergo drug testing and an employment background check. You might have to undergo a polygraph test as a condition of employment. Depending upon where you work, you might also be required to hold a government security clearance, which will involve more extensive background checking. A valid driver’s license generally is required, because evidence technicians often must travel to crime scenes and transport evidence to laboratories. If you will be taking fingerprints as part of the job, you might be required to have special certification in fingerprinting, which is available through regional government agencies.
The general skills that are helpful if you want to become an evidence tech include strong computer and communication abilities. Evidence technicians must write reports about their work, so it is important to know how to use word processing software. Knowledge of database and spreadsheet software also is useful for recording evidence. Knowing how to use photography and video equipment to photograph and videotape crimes scenes and evidence also might be required.
Good written and verbal communication skills to prepare reports and interact with law enforcement personnel and others are important. Working in law enforcement can be stressful, so an ability to handle pressure and stress is important. A detail orientation and strong analytical skills to collect and analyze evidence will help you in this position. Good eyesight to collect evidence and physical fitness to be able to lift potentially heavy files and other material also are necessary if you want to become an evidence tech.