Forensic technicians use scientific knowledge and equipment to assist with documenting evidence and investigating crimes. Some forensic technicians work in labs while others travel to crime scenes to do their work. If you become a forensic technician, you may find a job with a government agency, police department, forensic laboratory, mortuary or medical examiner's office.
Get a College Degree
Enroll in a four-year college or university if you want to become a forensic technician. These colleges can grant degrees in a major you need such as chemistry, biology or forensic science. You can get the most comprehensive preparation at a school that offers a forensic science degree, but many schools do not have this type of program. Employers will typically accept candidates who have earned degrees in a type of natural science instead. The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission maintains a list of institutions that do offer forensic science programs.
Bachelor's Degree Program
An undergraduate forensic science program typically includes the study of forensic biology, which focuses on analyzing biological fluids and tissues, and forensic chemistry, which focuses on chemistry theories and techniques used in forensic analysis.You will likely also take forensic toxicology, which involves detecting and analyzing dangerous or toxic substances, and trace analysis courses, which focus on the collection and comparison of items preserved as forensic evidence. These programs also include crime scene investigation courses, which focus on documenting and analyzing crime scenes. A natural science degree program typically includes a range of non-forensic science courses as well as math that may prove helpful in this career. If your school offers them, taking a forensic science or criminology course can help prepare you for this job.
Attending graduate school and earning a master's degree can help you advance as a forensic science technician. Some higher-salary positions might require a master's degree in forensic science or a natural science like biology or microbiology. These programs typically include advanced science education beyond the bachelor's degree level, lab courses, research opportunities and a master's thesis requirement. You can generally complete a master's degree program in about two to three years of full-time study.
Forensic Science Graduate Degree Program
A master's of forensic science program includes in-depth study of forensic chemistry, molecular biology, toxicology, trace analysis and serology, which covers the identification and analysis of various types of body fluids and waste. You will also study crime scene investigation, microscopy, criminal law and ethics in a master's degree program. Your master's degree program might also include biochemistry, pharmacology and statistics courses as well as classes in genetics and communications. In addition, these programs include labs, research projects, and often, hands-on learning through practicums or internships.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can find some employers willing to hire forensic technicians who hold high school diplomas or GEDs rather than college degrees. However, you will likely find these jobs in rural locations rather than in cities or towns with larger forensic departments and budgets. In addition, some police departments hire police officers for crime scene investigation jobs.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Forensic Science Technician
- The American Society of Crime Laboratory Technichians: Student Resources
- CareerPlanner.com: Forensic Science Technichian
- Arcadia University: Forensic Science Degree Requirements
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Work Environment
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