Forensic Science Technicians

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About the Job

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.

It is also Called

  • Wildlife Forensic Geneticist
  • Trace Evidence Technician
  • Polygraph Operator
  • Polygraph Examiner
  • Lie Detector Operator
  • Latent Print Examiner
  • Latent Fingerprint Examiner
  • Keeler Polygraph Operator
  • Handwriting Expert
  • Forensic Toxicologist
show all

What They Do

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Examine firearms to determine mechanical condition and legal status, performing restoration work on damaged firearms to obtain information such as serial numbers.
  • Examine physical evidence, such as hair, fiber, wood, or soil residues to obtain information about its source and composition.
  • Examine and analyze blood stain patterns at crime scenes.
  • Review forensic analysts' reports for technical merit.
  • Collect impressions of dust from surfaces to obtain and identify fingerprints.
  • Interpret laboratory findings or test results to identify and classify substances, materials, or other evidence collected at crime scenes.

Interests

People who work in this occupation generally have the interest code: IA.

This means people who work in this occupation generally have Investigative interests, but also prefer Artistic environments.

Work Values

People who work in this occupation generally prize Support, but also value Recognition and Achievement in their jobs.

Things They Need to Know

  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Public Safety and Security - 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 - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • 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.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Things They Need to Be Able to Do

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Science - Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

Preparation Required

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

Wages

In 2016, the average annual wage in California was $80,150 with most people making between $47,160 and $121,350

Outlook

3.18%
avg. annual growth

During 2014, this occupation employed approximately 2,200 people in California. It is projected that there will be 2,900 employed in 2024.

This occupation will have about 70 openings due to growth and about 90 replacement openings for approximately 160 total annual openings.