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 enroll in 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 who work for police departments are sworn police officers and have met educational requirements necessary for admittance into a police academy. Applicants for civilian crime scene investigator jobs should have a bachelor’s degree in either forensic science, with a strong basic science background, or the natural sciences. 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 may work under experienced investigators while they learn proper procedures and methods for collecting and documenting evidence.
Forensic science technicians learn laboratory specialties on the job. The length of this training varies by specialty, but is usually less than a year. 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.
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.
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.
Problem-solving skills. Forensic science technicians use scientific tests and methods to help law enforcement officials solve crimes.