CAREER: FORENSIC SCIENCE TECHNICIAN 1

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1 CAREER: FORENSIC SCIENCE TECHNICIAN 1 Career: Forensic Science Technician Mary C. Cartwright Middlesex Community College CRJ Heloisa DaCunha November 29, 2012

2 CAREER: FORENSIC SCIENCE TECHNICIAN 2 A Forensic Science Technician is sometimes called and referred to as a Crime Scene Investigator or a Forensic Scientist. They gather physical evidence from crime scenes. He or she then analyzes that evidence to help in the investigation of the crime. A crime scene investigator s career requires them to be meticulous about details. They must properly collect and store the evidence they collect. Also, they must be able to prepare forms, reports, and other written documentation about their findings. CSIs are often asked to testify at criminal trials, giving testimony about the physical evidence collected and offering their general expertise about forensic evidence. The qualifications for this position require a bachelor s degree from a 4-year college to be considered for the occupation. The most common majors include Forensic Science and Technology, Chemistry, Cell Biology and Anatomy, Forensic Chemistry, and Forensic Psychology. Forensic science technicians need extensive on-the-job training before they are ready to work on cases independently. Newly hired crime scene investigators serve as apprentices to more experienced investigators. During their apprenticeship, investigators learn proper procedures and methods for collecting and documenting evidence. Plus, forensic science technicians learn laboratory specialties on the job. The length of this training varies by specialty. Most DNA-analysis training programs last 6 to 12 months, but firearms-analysis training may last up to 3 years. Technicians need to pass a proficiency exam before they may perform independent casework or testify in court. Throughout their careers, forensic science technicians need to keep well-informed and up-to-date of the advances in technology and science that improve the collection or analysis of evidence. Crime scene investigators must travel to different locations around a city or region because crimes can occur anywhere. Crime scene investigation can be distressing and unpleasant because investigators see many disturbing sights. As far as I

3 CAREER: FORENSIC SCIENCE TECHNICIAN 3 can tell, there are no age requirements, previous work experience, or gender restrictions that I can possibly find. Forensic science technicians held about 13,000 jobs in About 9 in 10 forensic science technicians work in state and local government in the following workplaces: Police departments, Crime laboratories, Morgues, and Medical examiner/coroner offices. The projected employment numbers for a forensic science technician is predicted to increase about 19% between the years 2010 and People established in their career generally earn between $ 40,340 and $ 66,240 per year. Exceptional performers can earn in excess of $ 84,260. Crime scene investigators work staggered day, evening, or night shifts and may have to work overtime because they must always be available to collect evidence. Technicians working in laboratories usually work a standard work week, although they may have to be on call outside of normal business hours if they are needed to work immediately on a crime scene. The services they provide as a result are numerous. Forensic Science Technicians will collect evidence from crime scenes, storing it in conditions that preserve its integrity. They use chemicals and other substances to examine latent fingerprint evidence and compare developed prints to those of known persons in databases. They take photographs of evidence, visit morgues, examine scenes of crimes, or contact other sources to obtain evidence or information to be used in investigations. They also reconstruct crime scenes to determine relationships among pieces of evidence. Like all careers, there are roles and responsibilities of certain positions. Forensic science technicians are no different. At crime scenes, forensic science technicians typically do the following: walk through the scene to determine what and how evidence should be collected; take photographs of the crime scene and evidence; make sketches of the crime scene; keep written

4 CAREER: FORENSIC SCIENCE TECHNICIAN 4 notes of their observations and findings, such as the location and position of evidence as it is found; collect all relevant physical evidence, including weapons, fingerprints, and bodily fluids; and catalog and preserve evidence before transferring it to a crime lab. Crime scene investigators may use tweezers, black lights, and specialized kits to identify and collect evidence. In addition to processing crime scenes, they may also attend autopsies. In laboratories, forensic science technicians typically do the following: identify and classify crime scene evidence through scientific analysis; explore possible links between suspects and criminal activity using the results of chemical and physical analyses; consult with experts in related or specialized fields, such as toxicology, about the evidence and their findings; and reconstruct crime scenes based on scientific findings. Forensic science technicians reconstruct crime scenes by carefully studying information gathered by investigators and conducting scientific tests on physical evidence. For example, lab technicians may look at photographs of blood splatter patterns and conduct ballistics tests on bullets found at the crime scene to determine the direction from which a shot was fired. Forensic science technicians who work in laboratories use chemicals and laboratory equipment such as microscopes when analyzing evidence. They also use computer databases to examine fingerprints, DNA, and other evidence collected at crime scenes in order to match them to people and things that have already been identified. Most forensic science technicians who perform laboratory analysis specialize in a specific type of evidence analysis, such as DNA or ballistics. All forensic science technicians prepare written reports that detail their findings and investigative methods. They must be able to explain their reports to lawyers, detectives, and other law enforcement officials. In addition, forensic science technicians may be called to testify in court about their findings and methods.

5 CAREER: FORENSIC SCIENCE TECHNICIAN 5 Overall, there is a lot that is put into to be a forensic scientist. You must train to learn to use the tools of the trade and so much more. I personally find it a fascinating career and one I am willing to pursue. To matter where they are in the world, Crime Scene Investigators are crucial in an investigation, for they are the ones that narrow down the suspect list.

6 CAREER: FORENSIC SCIENCE TECHNICIAN 6 References Forensic science technicians. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2012, from FOCUS2 website: Forensic science technicians. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2012, from Bureau of Labor Statistics website: Forensic scientist: Career information. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2012, from About.com website: Sipe, C. (Ed.). (2012, July 5). Crime scene investigator job description & career outlook. Retrieved November 25, 2012, from Criminal Justice Degree Schools website:

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