Forensic Science Technicians

Overview
Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed
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.

Education

Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Job Training

Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Examples

Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include real estate brokers, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.

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.

Salary Salary

Salary at 10th Percentile: $36K
Salary at 25th Percentile: $46K
Median Salary: $60K
Salary at 75th Percentile: $79K
Salary at 90th Percentile: $100K

Demand
Career Demand by State Career Demand by State Legend
Core Tasks

Collect evidence from crime scenes, storing it in conditions that preserve its integrity.

Keep records and prepare reports detailing findings, investigative methods, and laboratory 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.

Testify in court about investigative or analytical methods or findings.

Collect impressions of dust from surfaces to obtain and identify fingerprints.

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.

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.

Analyze gunshot residue and bullet paths to determine how shootings occurred.

Compare objects, such as tools, with impression marks to determine whether a specific object is responsible for a specific mark.

Determine types of bullets and specific weapons used in shootings.

Identify and quantify drugs or poisons found in biological fluids or tissues, in foods, or at crime scenes.

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.

Technology Skills
Technology
Example
Hot Technology
Analytical or scientific software
Laboratory information management system LIMS
Computer aided design CAD software
Computer aided design and drafting CADD software
Data base user interface and query software
Microsoft Access
Electronic mail software
Microsoft Outlook
Graphics or photo imaging software
Microsoft Visio
Internet browser software
Web browser software
Office suite software
Microsoft Office
Operating system software
Linux
Presentation software
Microsoft PowerPoint
Spreadsheet software
Microsoft Excel
Word processing software
Microsoft Word
Tools Used
Tool
Example
Batteries and generators and kinetic power transmission
Portable generators
Communications Devices and Accessories
Portable two way radios
Computer Equipment and Accessories
Handheld evidence collection computers
Hand tools
Crime scene tape measures
Laboratory and scientific equipment
Glassware washers
Laboratory supplies and fixtures
Evidence scissors
Lamps and lightbulbs and lamp components
Infrared light sources
Law enforcement
Breathalyzers
Measuring and observing and testing instruments
Electronic measuring devices
Medical apparel and textiles
Protective masks
Medical sterilization products
Steam sterilizers
Motor vehicles
Police vans
Office and desk accessories
Protractors
Patient care and treatment products and supplies
Medical hemostats
Patient exam and monitoring products
Sexual assault evidence collection kits
Personal safety and protection
Footwear protectors
Photographic or filming or video equipment
Digital cameras
Postmortem and mortuary equipment and supplies
Body fluid collection kits
Signage and accessories
Photo markers
Top 10 Knowledge Required
Law and Government
89%
Importance

Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

Public Safety and Security
80%
Importance

Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

English Language
72%
Importance

Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Chemistry
67%
Importance

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.

Computers and Electronics
63%
Importance

Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Engineering and Technology
60%
Importance

Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

Clerical
59%
Importance

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.

Customer and Personal Service
59%
Importance

Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Mathematics
59%
Importance

Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Education and Training
58%
Importance

Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Top 10 Skills
Active Listening
78%
Importance

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.

Critical Thinking
78%
Importance

Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Reading Comprehension
78%
Importance

Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Speaking
78%
Importance

Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Writing
78%
Importance

Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Complex Problem Solving
75%
Importance

Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Science
68%
Importance

Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

Active Learning
65%
Importance

Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

Judgment and Decision Making
65%
Importance

Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Monitoring
63%
Importance

Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Top 10 Abilities
Flexibility of Closure
83%
Importance

The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.

Inductive Reasoning
83%
Importance

The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Deductive Reasoning
80%
Importance

The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Near Vision
80%
Importance

The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Oral Comprehension
80%
Importance

The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Written Comprehension
80%
Importance

The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Far Vision
78%
Importance

The ability to see details at a distance.

Oral Expression
78%
Importance

The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Speech Recognition
78%
Importance

The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.

Information Ordering
75%
Importance

The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

Top 10 Work Activities
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
95%
Importance

Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

Documenting/Recording Information
92%
Importance

Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

Getting Information
89%
Importance

Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
85%
Importance

Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
84%
Importance

Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

Making Decisions and Solving Problems
83%
Importance

Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

Processing Information
79%
Importance

Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
78%
Importance

Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.

Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
78%
Importance

Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.

Interacting With Computers
76%
Importance

Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.

Detailed Work Activities

Testify at legal or legislative proceedings.

Interpret research or operational data.

Operate laboratory or field equipment.

Maintain laboratory or technical equipment.

Prepare compounds or solutions for products or testing.

Analyze forensic evidence to solve crimes.

Collaborate on research activities with scientists or technical specialists.

Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations.

Record research or operational data.

Train personnel in technical or scientific procedures.

Document events or evidence, using photographic or audiovisual equipment.

Work Context
Indoors, Environmentally Controlled

How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?

Face-to-Face Discussions

How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?

Electronic Mail

How often do you use electronic mail in this job?

Importance of Being Exact or Accurate

How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?

Frequency of Decision Making

How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets

How much does this job require wearing common protective or safety equipment such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets?

Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results

What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?

Consequence of Error

How serious would the result usually be if the worker made a mistake that was not readily correctable?

Freedom to Make Decisions

How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?

Education
Majors
Major
Biology/Biological Sciences, General
Chemistry, General
Forensic Chemistry
Criminal Justice and Corrections, General
Criminalistics and Criminal Science
Forensic Science and Technology
Forensic Anthropology
Interests
Investigative
96%
Importance

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.

Realistic
77%
Importance

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.

Conventional
72%
Importance

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.

Artistic
34%
Importance

Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Enterprising
19%
Importance

Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Social
19%
Importance

Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Top 10 Work Styles
Attention to Detail
98%
Importance

Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

Integrity
98%
Importance

Job requires being honest and ethical.

Self Control
91%
Importance

Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

Analytical Thinking
90%
Importance

Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

Stress Tolerance
90%
Importance

Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.

Dependability
88%
Importance

Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

Adaptability/Flexibility
87%
Importance

Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

Cooperation
86%
Importance

Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

Independence
86%
Importance

Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

Achievement/Effort
83%
Importance

Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.

Work Values
Support
77%
Importance

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.

Recognition
62%
Importance

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.

Achievement
58%
Importance

Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.

Independence
58%
Importance

Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Working Conditions
55%
Importance

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

Relationships
43%
Importance

Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.