What Is A Forensic Science Technician?
Forensic science technicians investigate crimes by collecting and
analyzing physical evidence. Their job is to examine and identify
physical evidence to reconstruct a crime scene. Physical evidence can
be a weapon, piece of clothing, bloodstain, drugs or even a vapor in
the air. Forensic science technicians use physical evidence to connect
a suspect and victim. Other important links are fingerprints, bullets
and shoe impressions.
Physical evidence can be collected from a crime scene and the
surrounding area. This can include the victim’s body. They can also
receive evidence at the laboratory that has been collected at the crime
scene by crime scene investigators. The proper collection of evidence
is necessary to prevent contamination or destruction of the evidence.
Once the evidence is brought to the crime lab, a forensic science
technician will conduct tests.
Training To Become a Forensic Science Technician
A bachelor’s degree from a four-year college is required with a major in chemistry, biology or physics. Some crime labs require a master’s degree in forensic science.
A high school student should pursue a college prep program with an emphasis on science and math.
There are no licensing and certification requirements for a forensic science technician. Crime labs are accredited by National Accreditation Associations. To ensure continuing accreditation, labs conduct regular proficiency tests of their forensic science technicians.
Once the education requirement is fulfilled, forensic science technicians usually begin work as trainees under the direct supervision of a scientist or a more experienced technician. As they gain experience, technicians take on more responsibility and carry out assignments under general supervision.
The Usual Day for Forensic Science Technicians
Forensic science technicians work in a crime laboratory and at crime scenes. Forensic science technicians are also often called to court to provide expert testimony regarding their methods and findings. Other daily activities can include:
- Collect and preserve criminal evidence used to solve cases
- Examine, test and analyze evidence through use of recording, measuring and testing equipment
- Interpret laboratory findings and test results to identify evidence from the crime scene
- Prepare reports or presentations of findings, investigative methods or laboratory techniques
- Reconstruct a crime scene to determine relationships among pieces of evidence
Because forensic science technicians are in contact with physical evidence, they must wear protective and disposable clothing when handling body fluid evidence to prevent the transmission of disease.
The Prospects and Future for Forensic Science Technicians
Jobs for forensic science technicians are expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations. Forensic science technicians work 40 hours a week, but they are also required to be on call. When on call, they can be requested to go to a crime scene for collection of evidence to assist crime scene investigators.
Additionally, forensic science technicians employed by public agencies are usually included in the union’s law enforcement collective bargaining. Unions do not usually represent forensic science technicians who are privately employed.
Benefits typically include vacations, holidays, sick leave, medical and dental insurance and retirement plans. Because forensic science technicians require a college degree and further training, their salary ranges from $38,000-75,000. This salary is dependant on location and years of experience within the public agency.
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