Forensic Science Technicians

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Also known as:
Ballistic Technician, Ballistician, Ballistics Expert, Crime Lab Technician, Crime Scene Technician, Criminalist Technician, Fingerprint Expert, Forensic Analyst, Forensic Science Technician, Handwriting Expert

ABOUT FORENSIC SCIENCE TECHNICIAN CAREERS
Video transcript

Books and TV programs make the work of forensic science technicians seem fast-paced and exciting. In real life, however, their job is more likely to be as slow and painstaking as it is important. Forensic science technicians work at the scene of a crime - and in laboratories. They perform tests on weapons or they examine substances such as fiber, hair, and tissue to determine a connection to the crime, and to a suspect.

Some forensic science technicians specialize in particular areas such as fingerprinting, DNA and handwriting analysis, biochemistry, or ballistics. They prepare reports to document their findings and the laboratory techniques used.

While much of their expertise and deductive abilities come from experience, forensic science technicians are usually college graduates, having taken courses in subjects ranging from criminology to biology. Forensic science technicians are a crucial part of our legal system. They might be called upon to testify as expert witnesses. Their evidence and testimony can help send the guilty to prison, or clear the innocent.

SNAPSHOT
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.
Leadership
MED
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
LOW
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
LOW
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Train new technicians or other personnel on forensic science techniques.

Testify in court about investigative or analytical methods or findings.

Collect evidence from crime scenes, storing it in conditions that preserve its integrity.

Confer with ballistics, fingerprinting, handwriting, documents, electronics, medical, chemical, or metallurgical experts concerning evidence and its interpretation.

Visit morgues, examine scenes of crimes, or contact other sources to obtain evidence or information to be used in investigations.

Prepare solutions, reagents, or sample formulations needed for laboratory work.

Use photographic or video equipment to document evidence or crime scenes.

Operate and maintain laboratory equipment and apparatus.

Keep records and prepare reports detailing findings, investigative methods, and laboratory techniques.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Communicating with Persons Outside Organization Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
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.
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
TOP SKILLS
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.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
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.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.