Career summary

Details for Forensic Science Technicians


Description

Collect, identify, classify, and analyze physical evidence related to criminal investigations. Perform tests on weapons or substances, such as fiber, hair, and tissue to determine significance to investigation. May testify as expert witnesses on evidence or crime laboratory techniques. May serve as specialists in area of expertise, such as ballistics, fingerprinting, handwriting, or biochemistry.

Tasks

  • Keep records and prepare reports detailing findings, investigative methods, and laboratory techniques.
  • Collect evidence from crime scenes, storing it in conditions that preserve its integrity.
  • Testify in court about investigative or analytical methods or findings.
  • Use photographic or video equipment to document evidence or crime scenes.
  • Visit morgues, examine scenes of crimes, or contact other sources to obtain evidence or information to be used in investigations.
  • Reconstruct crime scenes to determine relationships among pieces of evidence.
  • Operate and maintain laboratory equipment and apparatus.
  • Confer with ballistics, fingerprinting, handwriting, documents, electronics, medical, chemical, or metallurgical experts concerning evidence and its interpretation.
  • Prepare solutions, reagents, or sample formulations needed for laboratory work.
  • Train new technicians or other personnel on forensic science techniques.
  • Use chemicals or other substances to examine latent fingerprint evidence and compare developed prints to those of known persons in databases.
  • Interpret laboratory findings or test results to identify and classify substances, materials, or other evidence collected at crime scenes.
  • Collect impressions of dust from surfaces to obtain and identify fingerprints.
  • Review forensic analysts' reports for technical merit.
  • Examine and analyze blood stain patterns at crime scenes.
  • Examine physical evidence, such as hair, fiber, wood, or soil residues to obtain information about its source and composition.
  • Examine firearms to determine mechanical condition and legal status, performing restoration work on damaged firearms to obtain information, such as serial numbers.
  • Compare objects, such as tools, with impression marks to determine whether a specific object is responsible for a specific mark.
  • Analyze gunshot residue and bullet paths to determine how shootings occurred.
  • Identify and quantify drugs or poisons found in biological fluids or tissues, in foods, or at crime scenes.
  • Determine types of bullets and specific weapons used in shootings.

Interests

  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Education, training, experience

  • Education - Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.
  • Training - Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.
  • Experience - A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.

Knowledge

  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Clerical - Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

Skills

  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

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