Working in criminal justice can be an ideal way to build a long career. There will always be crime and for those people who enjoy science, there will always be work in understanding why, how, and when these crimes took place. To work as a forensic science technician, you will need an advanced science-based education. This is an in-demand field and one that continues to change. Working in it can be very rewarding for the right type of person.
What Does a Forensic Science Technician Do? $51,570
A person working as a forensic science technician often works in a team environment to investigate and solve crimes. The day-to-day job will change with every event, but in general this person will gather evidence, in the form of material, documentation, and other forms, and then analyzes it. Most work at the scene of the crime. Evidence will range from bullets to particles of clothing, blood, hair, and fingerprints. Once the data is collected, he or she will then need to study it using scientific methods to understand what the evidence is and what it means to the crime that occurred.
Some of the tasks include:
- Finding evidence at the crime scene
- Tagging it
- Bringing it back to the lab and analyzing it
- Using various computer programs and science methods to pull DNA, particles, or other substances from the evidence
- Aid in forming conclusions about evidence to help solve crimes
Individuals can apply for positions with crime-related agencies, such as local police, county, state, and federal organizations, or private agencies. The American Academy of Forensic Scientists states that income in this field varies significantly, but most can expect to work 40 hours a week and be on call.
Is There Demand for These Technicians?
The Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there will be growth in this industry. From 2010 through 2020, an expected increase of 19 percent in the jobs available in forensic science technicians is likely. This agency states the average 2010 median pay was $51,570 per year or $24.79 per hour.
What Education Is Necessary?
A bachelor’s degree is a requirement to work in this field. Employers determine if additional education and training is necessary. According to the National Institutes of Health, Office of Science Education, students will need to earn a bachelor’s degree to work within any crime lab and will have extensive on-the-job training even as a basic lab tech. The following information shows the type of courses necessary to become a forensic science technician.
- Natural sciences, including biology and chemistry
- Mathematics, to an advanced level
- Computers, technology, and electronics
- Law and government
- English language education
- Public safety courses, security courses
In most cases, students can earn a bachelor’s degree and then begin working in the field through on-the-job training. However, many will go on to continue their education. Earning a master’s degree in forensic science is an option and may increase income and job options.
It is possible to earn many of these credits and qualifications through online education. Students who earn a bachelor’s degree and then begin to work often can complete the requirements for a master’s degree from home, using online courses. The individual is then getting experience necessary while also improving his or her academics for advancement.
Though these professionals are not police officers, they work hand-in-hand with law enforcement to help solve crimes. The work can lead to long hours, but it is often very rewarding as well. If you have a passion for science and enjoy solving puzzles, then this may be the ideal career path for you. Begin with criminal science education and develop your skills in communication, mathematics, and critical thinking to work in this field.