Primarily employed by government agencies, forensic technicians apply scientific principles in laboratories or in fields. Indoors, forensic technicians analyze and test evidence from crime scenes by applying a variety of methods to help investigations. Outdoors, they gather evidence and assist criminal investigations. They also provide testimonies on their findings in court.
On a typical day, forensic technicians mainly examine and test evidence obtained from crime scene investigators. Evidence may range from fibre samples to weapons to strands of hair. Although some forensic scientists are generalists, most specialize in certain areas such as toxicology, biology or firearm analysis. For instance, toxicology specialists examine body fluids for traces of drugs, poison or alcohol while those in firearm analyze bullets, cartridges and guns.
Forensic technicians apply science and mathematical principles, operate and maintain sophisticated equipment, monitor experiments, make observations, use complex computer programs, and record results that may lead to the development of conclusions. After testing evidence, they interpret results to classify and identify evidence while recording and drafting their findings, investigative methods and techniques. They preserve the evidence and then consult experts concerning evidence. Lastly, they determine relationships between pieces. If a case comes to trial, technicians testify on evidence or laboratory techniques and provide opinions based on their findings in court.
Although forensic technicians mainly work in laboratories with regular hours, there may be several occasions when they work irregular hours to meet certain deadlines or to monitor experiments. Other scientists who work outdoors may work irregular hours, assisting investigations and collecting evidence at crime scenes at any time of day.
Forensic technicians are often exposed to hazards but by following proper safety procedures, they can minimize risk.
Since forensic science is the application of science and mathematics to situations involving law, a background in physics, chemistry and math is vital. Therefore, it is highly recommended to take science and math courses in high school. Due to the involvement of sophisticated computer programs and complicated testimonies, computer science and law are also recommended.
The minimum requirement for a forensic technician is a Bachelor of Science degree, however, employers prefer applicants that have master’s degree. Although there are no forensic science programs, degrees with some connection to forensic science is offered. For example, biology, chemistry or more specialized areas like toxicology.
Knowledge of legal procedures is also helpful when preparing for a testimony. Applicants with experience in usage of laboratory equipment usually require a shorter period of on-the-job training.
The need to replace retired technicians will leave many openings. Job opportunities are expected to be great for graduates of science technology programs who harbors a lot of experience in laboratory equipment. As technology develops, becoming increasingly complex, employers will begin to seek highly developed technical skills. Great communication skills will also be popular among employers. Overall, jobs are expected to increase faster than average for forensic technicians.
Technicians begin working as trainees under supervision of a more experienced scientist and as they gain experience, they hold more responsibility and carry assignments under general supervision. Some may eventually become supervisors.
Forensic technicians earned a...