Crime scene technicians, sometimes called crime scene investigators, forensic science technicians or crime scene analysts, help solve crimes through the collection, identification, documentation, classification and analysis of physical evidence gathered during the course of a criminal investigation.
Crime scene technicians work with police departments, but that doesn’t mean only police officers can become crime scene technicians. This career field requires knowledge in areas such as forensic science, evidence collection, fingerprinting and photography. Many employers seek applicants with bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and certificates in forensic training programs.
As most employers for crime scene technician positions prefer applicants with associate degrees, special certifications or bachelor’s degrees, earning a degree online can help you reach your educational goals and advance your career.
As experience is also preferred before becoming a crime scene technician, an employer may place an employee at an entry-level position as a regular forensic technician first. The promotion process can be accelerated with advanced education and internship opportunities in forensic science programs.
Crime scene technicians collect, test, identify and analyze weapons or substances such as bodily fluids, hair and fibers to conclude whether the evidence is relevant to the criminal investigation at hand. They must be extremely careful to avoid contaminating potential evidence.
Crime scene technicians write up reports detailing their methods, findings and analyses, and may testify in court as expert witnesses. Many crime scene technicians are assigned to a particular department such as DNA analysis, ballistics, fingerprinting or handwriting, practicing almost exclusively within that specialty.
States with the highest concentration of forensic science technicians in 2007 were Arizona, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, and Kansas.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the middle 50 percent of forensic science technicians earned between $36,560 and $61,210 in 2007, with a median salary of $47.680 and median hourly wage of $24.19. The top-paying states for forensic science technicians in 2007 were Connecticut, Kansas, California, Virginia and New York; the federal executive branch paid the highest mean salary of $83,970.
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts “much faster than average” growth in the employment of forensic science technicians.