How to Become a Forensic Lab Technician

Overview

A forensic lab technician is an important member of the forensic science industry. These specialists help solve crimes in their own way by collecting and studying evidence located at the scene of crime. Using their knowledge of the sciences, they are able to add value to the crime and legal system of society by helping solve all kinds of cases.

The primary struggle is to use clues, evidence and expertise in the field of crime and science to differentiate between fact and suspicion. If you enjoy mysteries, cases and wish to add value to the society by helping solve crime in your own way, then you should strive to become a forensic lab technician. Not only will you be living your dream but you will also be helping society in the very process.

Education Requirements

Since this is a field of science and crime, a great deal of emphasis is given on academic requirements and qualifications. This is because human lives are at stake by way of the decision made during crime solving.

It is advised that candidates possess a 4 years bachelor’s degree in forensic science, criminal justice or the life sciences. The academic exposure during this degree program should equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge on entering the field of forensic science. Although short associate programs and certificate programs exist, they may only be sufficient for a basic entry level position in the field.

What may work in the favor of students is if the degree program is accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (aafs.org/fepac). Once you have entered the industry, it is your level of experience, deduction skills and understanding of the crime scene that will give you career boosts.

Job Duties

The job duties of a forensic lab technician will vary depending on factors such as level of experience, company standards, industry practices and the type of crimes that occur. The job duties listed below should serve as a general point of reference for you. The duties can be divided into 2 categories, crime scene duties and lab duties.

Crime Scene Duties

  1. Carefully preview and analyze the crime scene before stepping into it
  2. Upon entering the crime scene, you must collect evidence and tag it. The crime scene and evidence should be carefully preserved throughout this exercise
  3. Take detailed photographs of the evidence as well as the crime scene
  4. Make notes and sketches of the crime scene. These must be well documented for future reference
  5. It is expected of the forensic lab technician to prepare some initial theories and scenarios pertaining to the crime. It is these calculated theories of the forensic lab technician that will help pave the way for the investigation

Lab Duties

  1. The evidence and documents pertaining to the crime must be accurately cataloged and archived with correct labeling using the reference system
  2. The evidence must be scanned and analyzed. All substances, liquids and artifacts must be identified and then interpreted
  3. A theory regarding their relevancy must be determined. Depending on the nature of the crime, a link must be created between the evidence and how it is linked to the crime, the suspect and the victim
  4. Using specialized equipment, you must study the evidence for DNA, finger prints, substances, elements and so on
  5. Consult with the team, department and officers on solving the case

Career Outlook

Even since forensic technologies and forensic personnel have entered the crime and justice industry, solving mysteries and cracking cases have become faster and easier. Not only that, the accuracy at determining the guilty party has greatly increased due to the usage of forensic technologies. This is very important given the high rate of crime and terrorism threats around the world.

Keeping the above factors in mind, the demand for forensic technologies and personnel such as forensic lab technicians is on the rise. Solving crimes and serving justice are the struggle for the justice system of any country. With the value forensic labs bring to this system the demand for forensic lab technicians to assist the justice department is on the rise. This is especially true owing to the increase in petty crimes and terrorist acts. As a matter of fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) has forecasted the employment growth for forensic science technicians to be around 19% during the period of 2010 to 2020.

Salary Prospects

According to indeed.com, the average annual salary for a forensic lab technician is $41,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), the top 10 percent of forensic lab technicians earned more than $82,990 in May 2010 while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $32,900. As you gain more experience working on various cases, your market value may increase.

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