Forensics Lab Technician: Salary, Duties and Requirements
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The field of forensic science does not initially require a specified major. The prospective technician has time to choose one of the career path options available. For example, lab technicians may begin their studies with an interest in biology, then pursue a specialization field such as DNA comparison. A bachelor’s degree, primarily in chemistry, physics, physical anthropology, or biology, is required to enter the job arena.
It’s necessary for forensics lab technicians to have clear oral and written communication skills, as well as the ability to understand and create lab reports. Technicians are frequently called upon as expert witnesses in court trials, so students can benefit from learning basic court procedures. Many organizations hiring forensics lab technicians will give private training and send the technician to personally observe ongoing trials.
Analytical skills are the hallmark of the forensics lab technician. Regardless of the specialization, these technicians do small-scale work that can influence major investigations. Job duties require patience and the ability to work with delicate technology ranging from voice comparison software to DNA sequencing equipment. While field detectives search for clues, the forensics lab technician puts them under a microscope to analyze chemical components, ballistic striation, fingerprint whorls, or the depth of impression a typewriter key creates on a piece of paper. Attention to detail is more vital in this profession than in many others due to the fact that a single small error may unjustly condemn an innocent life or release a criminal.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary among forensic science technicians was $56,320 as of 2015. The highest-paying employer in this field in 2015 was the federal executive branch, with a mean salary of about $100,400 annually. California ranked as the top-paying state for that year with a mean of $79,490, while Nevada was close behind at $73,210 annually.
Forensic technicians must be observant, thorough and have good communication skills so that they can better work with other technicians, forensic analysts and authorities. The entry-level requirement for the position is a science-related bachelor’s degree, and aspiring techs can look forward to bright employment prospects, with above-average growth in job openings expected between 2014 and 2024.
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