A career in forensic science can be an enriching and rewarding occupational choice. Local and state regulations are required to practice in this profession, making it a great choice for a portable career. Most forensic science technicians have a bachelor’s degree in a natural science field such as chemistry or biology, and receive moderate on-the-job training in crime scene analysis and lab work.
Your roles and responsibilities as a forensic science technician typically remain consistent from job to job. Some of the major responsibilities include the following:
Investigate crime scenes
- Collect physical evidence
- Take photographs of the crime scene and evidence
- Make sketches of the crime scene
Data analysis in laboratories
- Perform chemical, biological and physical analysis of evidence
- Reconstruct crime scenes
- Research links between suspects and criminal activity based on evidence
- Write detailed reports regarding crime scene data analysis
A few specialty fields exist inside the forensic science occupation. Having a specialized area of expertise may assist you with your career progression in securing higher paying and senior positions. A few of the forensic science specialty fields include the following:
- Generalists, criminalists or crime scene investigators
- Forensic pathologists
- Latent print examiners
- Forensic computer examiners or digital forensic analysts
Once you have decided on a specialty field, if you are choosing one, you need to consider the many different places that forensic science technicians work. Some of the more common places you can find employment are local, state and federal government law enforcement agencies, local and state municipalities and private investigative companies. It may not always be easy to find a job in your specific occupation, so you may want to consider similar types of employment. Many of these occupations require the same skills and knowledge and have very similar work environments. A few of these occupations include the following:
- Biochemists and biophysicists
- Biological technicians
- Chemical technicians
- Environmental science and protection technicians
- Fire inspectors and investigators
- Medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians
When you are ready to start your job search, visit the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Job Search to search for positions with companies and organizations committed to recruiting, hiring, promoting and retaining military spouses. A recent search using the keyword ‘forensic’ returned results for positions with the following companies:
Consider joining a professional organization in your chosen field to gain a better understanding of current industry practices and policies surrounding forensic science. Professional organizations are great ways to continue your education through workshops and conferences, which will add to your transferable skill set as you move. Networking with other professionals in your industry will give you an edge in meeting the right people who may have the connections you need to obtain an interview at your new location.
Read The Value of Professional Associations for more information on how becoming a member can help enhance your career. Joining an association can assist you in forming the network connections you may need to find employment. Through publications, meetings and an extensive library of videos and webinars, you can stay current on the latest industry trends. Many associations also offer an internship program for students currently enrolled in a forensic science field, as well as a job-posting portal where you can search for employment.
Since many recent graduates begin their careers as interns, you can always check with your nearest state and federal agencies to see if they have any internships available. Another popular internship and employment option for students and recent graduates is the USAJOBS Pathways program for federal service positions.
A range of licenses and certifications are available and aid in the professional development of many types of forensic science technicians. While certifications and licenses are not typically necessary for entry into the occupation, each jurisdiction sets its own standards on what certifications may be required to practice locally. You will need to check with your state agency to verify what, if any, credentials you need before applying for employment. Be sure to view the Spouse Licensure Map for state legislation and information regarding licensure for military spouses in your specific state.
To explore additional information related to starting your career as a forensic science technician, check out the Research Occupations tool on MySECO. Enter the keywords 'Forensic Science Technicians' to learn more about the occupational overview. If you need additional information on obtaining the proper license or certification as part of your specialty field, visit the Advantages of Licensure article in the Licensures and Certifications section of the Education, Training and Licensing lifecycle stage of MySECO. You can also speak with a career coach at 800-342-9647 to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.