Forensic Science Technician Job Profile

Forensic science technicians work with some of the most fascinating, and most challenging science in the world. Most forensic science technician are employed in law enforcement, but other areas of employment include archaeology, paleontology, anthropology, and even DNA analysis.

The Work Environment

Forensic science is a combination of lab and field work. Forensic science technicians in the law enforcement field are the primary scientific investigators of crime scenes and evidence presented in courts. Their job is to identify and verify clues to crimes.

This work includes a very wide range of disciplines:

  • Pathology
  • Toxicology
  • Electron microscopy
  • Molecular biology
  • Botany
  • Biology
  • Entomology
  • Geology and soil science

The primary characteristic of a forensic science technician’s skills is excellent analysis. The sciences are the primary drivers of the analytical tools of forensic science technicians, who work with experts in these fields.

The work in law enforcement is governed by extremely strict standards of evidence, and the adversarial legal system. Forensic science technicians are responsible for the quality of information their tests and analyses produce.

In many cases forensic science technicians are also required to give testimony, and explain their findings to a court. They’re also subject to cross examination by defense counsel who employ their own forensic experts to defend their clients.

In the academic roles, forensic science technicians are often called in to deal with analyses of samples or specimens in other disciplines. This form of forensic science frequently overlaps with clinical pathology and biology in particular.

To give an example of the work in this lesser known role, anthropologists dealing with organic samples frequently need detailed analysis of the materials they find. The forensic science technicians can give a complete chemical and biological analysis of ancient foods, environments, and even medical analyses of people dead for thousands of years.

Salary: Median salary is $53,000, but may increase considerably with qualifications and types of employment.  

Hours: May depend on requirements for production of information for third parties, involving irregular hours.

The Career Environment

Forensic science technicians have a lot of career options based on their roles. In practice, the forensic science technician is also commonly studying and upgrading their own skills throughout their careers. Career progression and development is selective, but with a difference. Forensic science technicians are already experts. They can develop their careers in a structured way, including multi-disciplinary studies.  

This type of career progression is also an excellent result in a cross disciplinary science. Forensic science technicians, as they progress in their careers, bring their expert analytical competencies to their areas of specialization. That also makes them very good, comprehensive trainers in their fields, having both the expertise of the forensic science work and their specialties.

At the more advanced levels of the forensic science technician’s career, the expertise may involve advisory roles to legislators and policy makers. The senior academic roles also include important positions in research programs and faculty and professional policies.

Another logical area of progression is research. Forensic science has been one of the major areas of development in recent years. This big advance in forensic science is partly as a result of the huge developments in biology and genetics, but also as a result of the quantum leaps in support technology and law enforcement techniques and science. The combination of law and science is winning the battle against crime.