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.
Sample of reported job titles: Crime Laboratory Analyst, Crime Scene Analyst, Crime Scene Technician (Crime Scene Tech), CSI (Crime Scene Investigator), Evidence Technician, Forensic Science Examiner, Forensic Scientist, Forensic Specialist, Latent Fingerprint Examiner, Latent Print Examiner
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Keep records and prepare reports detailing findings, investigative methods, and laboratory techniques.
- Collect evidence from crime scenes, storing it in conditions that preserve its integrity.
- Testify in court about investigative or analytical methods or findings.
- 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.
- 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.
- Examine and analyze blood stain patterns at crime scenes.
- 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.
- 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.
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- Analytical or scientific software — DM2 Bills of Lading; Laboratory information management system LIMS
- Computer aided design CAD software — Computer aided design and drafting CADD software
- Data base user interface and query software — Combined DNA Index System CODIS; Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System IAFIS; Microsoft Access ; National Crime Information Center NCIC database (see all 7 examples)
- Electronic mail software — IBM Notes ; Microsoft Outlook
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop ; DesignWare 3D EyeWitness; Graphics software; Midwest Information Systems PAX-it (see all 11 examples)
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Office suite software — Corel WordPerfect Office Suite; Microsoft Office
- Operating system software — Linux
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Process mapping and design software — Microsoft Visio
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- Law and Government — Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
- Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
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- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
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- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Speed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
- Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
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- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Analyze forensic evidence to solve crimes.
- Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations.
- Record research or operational data.
- Interpret research or operational data.
- Testify at legal or legislative proceedings.
- Document events or evidence, using photographic or audiovisual equipment.
- Maintain laboratory or technical equipment.
- Operate laboratory or field equipment.
- Collaborate on research activities with scientists or technical specialists.
- Prepare compounds or solutions for products or testing.
- Train personnel in technical or scientific procedures.
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- Electronic Mail — 84% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 85% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 74% responded “Extremely important.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 88% responded “Every day.”
- Telephone — 68% responded “Every day.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 62% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 56% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 54% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 58% responded “Very important results.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 70% responded “Every day.”
- Deal With External Customers — 53% responded “Very important.”
- Consequence of Error — 57% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 52% responded “Very important.”
- Contact With Others — 38% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 50% responded “Every day.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 27% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
- Physical Proximity — 23% responded “Slightly close (e.g., shared office).”
- Time Pressure — 43% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Exposed to Disease or Infections — 39% responded “Every day.”
- In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 24% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 48% responded “Very important.”
- Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 32% responded “High responsibility.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 49% responded “About half the time.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 43% responded “Important.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 42% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 32% responded “More than half the time.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 43% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Letters and Memos — 47% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
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|Title||Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor’s degree, but some do not.|
|Related Experience||A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.|
|Job Zone Examples||Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include real estate brokers, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|Not available||Some college, no degree|
|Not available||Bachelor’s degree|
|Not available||Associate’s degree|
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Interest code: IRC Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
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- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
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- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Recognition — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$29.13 hourly, $60,590 annual|
|Employment (2020)||17,200 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Much faster than average (15% or higher)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||2,500|
|Top industries (2020)||
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
- American Board of Criminalistics
- American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators
- American Chemical Society
- American Society of Crime Lab Directors
- Association of Forensic DNA Analysis and Administrators
- Clandestine Laboratory Investigators Association
- International Association for Identification
- International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts
- International Crime Scene Investigators Association
- Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association International
- Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists
- Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists
- Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Forensic science technicians
- Southern Association of Forensic Scientists
- Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists
- The Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners
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