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Career Profile: Forensic Science Technicians

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.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 17,200 people employed as forensic science technicians in the United States. The median annual salary is $60,600. Entry level employees earn approximately $36,630 per year and senior employees earn approximately $100,910 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Examine physical evidence, such as hair, fiber, wood, or soil residues to obtain information about its source and composition.
  • Examine firearms to determine mechanical condition and legal status, performing restoration work on damaged firearms to obtain information, such as serial numbers.
  • Compare objects, such as tools, with impression marks to determine whether a specific object is responsible for a specific mark.
  • Reconstruct crime scenes to determine relationships among pieces of evidence.
  • Operate and maintain laboratory equipment and apparatus.
  • Confer with ballistics, fingerprinting, handwriting, documents, electronics, medical, chemical, or metallurgical experts concerning evidence and its interpretation.
  • Prepare solutions, reagents, or sample formulations needed for laboratory work.
  • Train new technicians or other personnel on forensic science techniques.
  • Use chemicals or other substances to examine latent fingerprint evidence and compare developed prints to those of known persons in databases.
  • Interpret laboratory findings or test results to identify and classify substances, materials, or other evidence collected at crime scenes.
  • Collect impressions of dust from surfaces to obtain and identify fingerprints.
  • Review forensic analysts' reports for technical merit.
  • Analyze gunshot residue and bullet paths to determine how shootings occurred.
  • Identify and quantify drugs or poisons found in biological fluids or tissues, in foods, or at crime scenes.
  • Determine types of bullets and specific weapons used in shootings.
  • Examine and analyze blood stain patterns at crime scenes.
  • Keep records and prepare reports detailing findings, investigative methods, and laboratory techniques.
  • Use photographic or video equipment to document evidence or crime scenes.
  • Visit morgues, examine scenes of crimes, or contact other sources to obtain evidence or information to be used in investigations.
  • Collect evidence from crime scenes, storing it in conditions that preserve its integrity.
  • Testify in court about investigative or analytical methods or findings.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
17,200
Annual Openings:
2,500
Increase in Openings by 2030:
16%
Annual Salary Range:
$36,630 - $100,910
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's degree