Crime scene evidences are analyzed and processed by professionals called forensic science technicians. These professionals have a variety of career paths to choose from including criminalist, fingerprint examiner, crime scene investigator, and evidence technician. Most employers require prospective forensic science technicians to complete a bachelor degree program along with extensive coursework in biology and chemistry. In this article, we will look at various training and education options available to forensic technicians.
Forensic Science Technician: Educational Requirements
The minimum qualification expected by employers for forensic science technicians is a bachelor degree in forensic science; alternatively, candidates can hold an undergraduate degree in natural science such as physics, biology, molecular biology or chemistry. While some schools offer forensic science as an area of concentration, this study field is offered by many universities and colleges as a sub-category of another area of concentration such as chemistry. Aspiring forensic scientists would benefit by choosing a major that includes extensive coursework in math along with twenty-four academic units of chemistry or biology (source: American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS) (www.aafs.org). Apart from extensive coursework in science and math, students will also benefit from attending classes in composition, public speaking, statistics, forensic archaeology, criminal law, and criminal justice. Continuing education during the span of their career is the norm for most forensic science technicians. Forensic science programs are accredited by the AAFS through its Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). The AAFS provides a lot of programs accredited by them on their official website.
Forensic Science Technician: Graduate Degree Program
Aspiring candidates for management, supervisory and senior-level positions in forensic science are usually required to hold a master degree. Master degree programs offer majors associated with the forensic science field. For instance, a master degree in genetics or molecular biology can be chosen by a supervisor employed in DNA analysis. Similarly, a master degree program in chemistry is the best choice for a drug analyst. A prospective forensic scientist can improve their career by enrolling into a science-based graduate course that includes extensive lab coursework (source: American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) (www.www.ascld.org)).
Forensic Science Technician: Additional Training
Government agencies, academic institutions, forensic labs, coroner offices, and police departments are the most common employers of entry-level forensic science technicians. Those employed are imparted specialized training in subject areas such as firearms, toxicology, latent fingerprints, drug analysis, trace evidence and DNA analysis. Such training can be imparted over a period of six months to two years. While garnering hands on experience in lab procedures with computer programs and lab equipment, trainees also learn how to give courtroom testimony, collect evidences and write reports. Forensic science technicians often choose between a field job as an investigator with a crime scene unit, and a lab job as a scientist. Some crime scene investigators receive training to become police officers.
Forensic Science Technician: Certification Programs
Forensic science technicians are offered voluntary certification by American Board of Criminalistics (ABC). To qualify, the technicians need to possess a bachelor degree in a natural science field; in addition, students need to have two years’ experience in forensic work (source: www.criminalistics.com). Certification is offered at two levels: ‘Diplomate’ and ‘Fellow’. Each type requires candidates to take a comprehensive exam that last three hours. The American Board of Criminalistics offers ‘Affiliate’ membership to those who have not obtained two years of work experience.
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