How to Become a Forensic Science Technician
Forensic science technicians keep written notes of their observations and findings.
Forensic science technicians typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in a natural science, such as chemistry or biology, or in forensic science. On-the-job training is usually required both for those who investigate crime scenes and for those who work in labs.
Forensic science technicians typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in a natural science, such as chemistry or biology, or in forensic science. Forensic science programs may specialize in a specific area of study, such as toxicology, pathology, or DNA. Students who attend general natural science programs should make an effort to take classes related to forensic science. A list of schools that offer degrees in forensic science is available from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Many of those who seek to become forensic science technicians will have an undergraduate degree in the natural sciences and a master’s degree in forensic science.
Many crime scene investigators are sworn police officers and have met educational requirements necessary for admittance into a police academy. Applicants for nonuniformed crime scene investigator jobs should have a bachelor’s degree in either forensic science, with a strong basic science background, or the natural sciences, but some agencies hire applicants with a high school diploma and years of related work experience. For more information on police officers, see the profile on police and detectives.
Forensic science technicians receive on-the-job training before they are ready to work on cases independently.
Newly hired crime scene investigators typically assist experienced investigators. New investigators often learn proper procedures and methods for collecting and documenting evidence while working under supervision.
Forensic science technicians learn laboratory specialties on the job. The length of this training varies by specialty. Technicians may need to pass a proficiency exam or otherwise be approved by a laboratory or accrediting body before they are allowed to perform independent casework or testify in court.
Throughout their careers, forensic science technicians need to keep up with advances in technology and science that improve the collection or analysis of evidence.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
A range of licenses and certifications is available to help credential, and aid in the professional development of, many types of forensic science technicians. Certifications and licenses are not typically necessary for entry into the occupation. Credentials can vary widely because standards and regulations vary considerably from one jurisdiction to another.
Communication skills. Forensic science technicians write reports and testify in court. They often work with other law enforcement officials and specialists.
Composure. Forensic science technicians must maintain their objectivity and professionalism, even while viewing the results of violence and destruction.
Critical-thinking skills. Forensic science technicians use their best judgment when matching physical evidence, such as fingerprints and DNA, to suspects.
Detail oriented. Forensic science technicians must be able to notice small changes in mundane objects to be good at collecting and analyzing evidence.
Math and science skills. Forensic science technicians need a solid understanding of statistics and natural sciences to be able to analyze evidence at a crime scene.
Physical stamina. Forensic science technicians may need to spend much of their day at a crime scene either standing or kneeling.
Problem-solving skills. Forensic science technicians use scientific tests and methods to help law enforcement officials solve crimes.