Crime Lab Analyst Working Conditions

The majority of crime lab analysts work in medical and diagnostic labs, or state governments. (see ref 2)

The majority of crime lab analysts work in medical and diagnostic labs, or state governments. (see ref 2)

Crime lab analysts, or forensic science technicians, work behind the scenes to collect, identify and analyze evidence in criminal investigations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They conduct tests on items or individuals related to criminal investigation. While primarily working to solve criminal puzzles, they may be called to testify in court on their findings and results. Some crime lab analysts specialize in an area such as ballistics or biochemistry.

Work Demands

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, crime lab analysts generally work traditional hours and earned a median annual wage of $51,570 as of May 2010. Beyond a typical 40 hour work week, some may be on call or needed outside of regular business hours to work on a crime scene or analyze time-sensitive evidence. Lab work can be complicated and thrilling for analysts who enjoy a challenge. Depending on the employer and employee's expertise, analysts may specialize in a particular area where cases can become rather routine, while others are generalists and see greater variation in their work load.

Physical Demands

Crime lab analysts generally work indoors. They must be physically capable of operating and interpreting laboratory equipment such as microscopes and entering information into a database. Much of the working time is spent focused on solving a problem and mental acuity is required. Crime lab analysts may spend a significant amount of time on their feet, standing or walking in the laboratory. Some crime lab analysts spend time travelling to crime scenes to collect or process evidence on-site, as well as to testify in court.

Primary Employers

Combined, the branches of government employ most crime lab analysts. Specifically, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 16 percent worked for state government, 14 percent worked for local government and one percent worked for the federal government in May 2012. The job market for crime lab analysts is expected to grow about 19 percent between 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is about average. Competition is expected to be strong and actual hiring may vary significantly from year-to-year depending on government agency budgets.

Work Environment Concerns

This work environment presents unique risks and concerns. Crime lab analysts are exposed to a variety of hazards such as chemicals, human fluids, diseases and weapons. Safety precautions are taken to minimize risks associated with exposure. The work can also be distressing, as crime lab analysts are exposed to many types of crime, some horrific in nature. Work-related injuries from accidents or exposure to substances or firearms in the lab can also occur.

 

About the Author

Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.

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