The fascination with the field of forensics has grown exponentially thanks to the explosive popularity of early 2000s crime TV shows like Law & Order and CSI and documentary series and podcasts like Making a Murderer and Serial.
Coinciding with this fascination, we have seen a heightened interest from students in becoming forensic science technicians. These technicians are often the ones helping detectives gain crucial evidence in order to administer justice and bring peace to victims’ families.
While this career is exciting and fulfilling, you should still do your research and understand what will be asked of you as a forensic science technician before choosing this career path.
Let’s explore what a forensic science technician does and how you can become one by earning a bachelor’s degree in Biology.
What is a Forensic Science Technician?
Forensic science technicians have extremely fast-paced jobs in the criminology field. They examine crime scenes, process evidence, and help police officers, investigators, and other law enforcement officials solve crimes.
These technicians may work at crime scenes or in laboratories. Additional responsibilities of forensic science technicians include:
- Recording observations and the location and position of findings
- Collecting and preserving evidence
- Outlining the crime scene
- Taking pictures of the crime scene and evidence
- Analyzing the crime scene for evidence (weapons, bodily fluids, fingerprints, etc.)
In a lab setting, forensic technicians are also responsible for:
- Conducting biological, chemical, and microscopic analyses on crime scene evidence.
- Collaborating with other specialized science professionals in toxicology and odontology.
- Determining links using DNA results and other methods between possible suspects and the crime.
How to Become a Forensic Science Technician in 4 Steps
1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree
In order to become a forensic science technician, you must first obtain an undergraduate degree. Most students major in biology, chemistry, criminal justice, physics, or even law. Some colleges and universities even have a specific forensic science degree program.
During their bachelor’s program, students should build a strong foundation in the sciences, covering topics such as molecular biology, cell physiology, organic chemistry, physics, genetics, and more. Becoming a master in biotechnology is a plus for this career, as well as taking supplemental courses in criminal behavior, criminal justice, and evidence analysis.
2. Complete additional training or an internship
Secondly, after you complete your undergraduate degree, you will want to obtain an internship in order to gain real-world experience. Internships can be extremely competitive so be sure you consider all of your options. Many students contact a local police department or agency on their own to arrange their own internship.
However, quite a few of these programs will allow you to train under the supervision of a senior forensic scientist. With this, you will gain hands-on experience as you learn the correct procedures for gathering, recording, and tracking evidence.
3. Pass your state’s proficiency exam
There are a range of licenses and certifications available to forensic science technicians, however, they are not typically required for entry into the occupation.
Some states do require forensic science technicians to complete a proficiency exam, so it’s important to check your individual state’s licensing website. Also, be aware that some jobs may have their own proficiency exam or licensing preferences.
Most proficiency exams will cover topics you learned in your bachelor’s degree program and training, such as competence, critical thinking, departmental standards for accuracy, evidentiary procedures, and report writing.
4. Pursue an advanced degree
Upon passing the proficiency exam, you might think you are now finally ready to start working as a forensic science technician. Yet, there may be additional certifications needed depending on where you wish to work. Or, you might choose to complete an additional certification program for professional recognition or career advancement.
Another way to obtain career advancement is to pursue a master’s degree where you will focus on a specific forensic science area such as criminal justice, forensic biology, or biomedical forensic science. A bachelor’s in Biology is a great foundation for these graduate programs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Many of those who seek to become forensic science technicians will have an undergraduate degree in the natural sciences and a master’s degree in forensic science” or related field.
Continuing one’s education through a certification or an advanced degree is important for forensic science technicians. Technology and investigative methods are consistently evolving. Forensic technicians must stay up to date on these methods and procedures to ensure they are doing their job efficiently and effectively.
Continuing education courses are offered in person and online in concentrations such as crime scene investigation, expert testimony, evidence analysis, principles of death investigation, and forensic photography.
A career as a forensic science technician is an extremely interesting and fulfilling career. You can expect to work a full-time schedule including potential evening and night shifts. While the average salary can vary depending on one’s location, experience, and expertise, a forensic technician earns on average $49,163. Additionally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people working in this career field could rise by 16% from 2020 to 2030.
If you are interested in a career as a forensic science technician and working closely with law enforcement, in laboratories, and other government agencies, you might consider a bachelor’s in Biology at the University of Bridgeport.
With your Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Biology, you’ll develop skills in collaboration, communication, creativity, time management, and problem-solving which will greatly benefit you in your future career as a forensic scientist.
Applications are now open and the application fee is waived. Also, reach out to our student success support services set up to help you succeed both at UB and in your career. Let’s start your future today!