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Blood Spatter Analyst Career Guide

Fans of Dexter, a television drama that revolves around a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department, may think that Dexter’s job is the stuff of TV fiction; however, blood spatter is a very real field of forensic science.

Blood spatter analysts provide an extremely important service in specific areas of law enforcement, particularly those departments that deal with homicide and violent crime. Although the term ‘blood spatter’ may evoke some provocative images, blood spatter analysis is a specialty rooted in details, sometimes involving very little blood at all.

Blood Spatter Analyst Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks

Bloodstain pattern analysts examine blood that is left behind at crime scenes in whatever quantity. It can be a trace amount in the form of a trail or a print, or it can involve a large volume of blood – or any amount in between. An analyst uses several different techniques to collect evidence from the scene for later processing and analysis at a lab.

blood spatter analystCommon techniques may involve taking photographs, using swabs and ultraviolet light to detect and collect trace evidence, and recreating spatter in the lab. This also requires the creation of detailed reports using computer simulations and analysis, as well as reporting findings to colleagues, law enforcement professionals, and court officials. Bloodstain pattern analysts can confirm or refute assumptions made about the crime or statements made by suspects and witnesses based on their analysis.

How to Become a Blood Spatter Analyst: Requirements and Qualifications

Bloodstain analysis requires a meticulous and thorough understanding of the properties of blood and the human body. Anatomy plays a large role as it pertains to arterial flow and the behavior of blood before and after it leaves the body. Math and environmental science are also essential components of a blood spatter analyst’s job.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical education required for entry-level careers in forensic science is a bachelor’s degree in a natural science like chemistry or in forensic science.1 Candidates who do not have a bachelor’s degree may be able to qualify for open positions with an associate’s degree plus job-related experience. All blood splatter analysts should expect to receive additional on-the-job training before beginning to work cases independently.

Specific classes in a bachelor’s or associate’s degree program to prepare for this career should include biology, anatomy, criminology, and statistical analysis. In a specialized program, these courses may lead into specific classes dealing with blood and pattern behavior that will help future bloodstain pattern analysts reveal such details as the type of weapon used in a crime, the location and the movement of the victim and the suspect, and ultimately the reconstruction of a crime. Once hired, blood spatter analysts attend classes or workshops to continually update their skills and knowledge.

Blood Spatter Analyst Job Training

Upon being hired as a blood spatter analyst, the employee will usually work closely with a more experienced analyst before beginning to work alone. While in training, the new bloodstain pattern analyst will watch experts testify in court and will work at crime scenes and in the laboratory. Associations like the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts also provide training seminars to help entry-level analysts hone their skills.

Other Helpful Skills and Experience

Aspiring blood spatter analysts will find that note taking, photography, and sketching skills will all be beneficial to the training process. Many bloodstain pattern analysts have prior law enforcement experience. Candidates who meet education and experience requirements may also seek certification through such organizations as the International Association for Identification or the American Board of Criminalistics.

Examples of Possible Job Titles for This Career

  • Blood Spatter Analyst
  • Bloodstain Pattern Analyst
Did you know? Blood spatter analysts use math, physics, biology, and a knowledge of how blood behaves in certain conditions to help recreate the crime.

Career Opportunities and Employers

Blood spatter analysts are very specialized, but the need exists for more people in this field. Many bloodstain pattern analysts work in local and state crime laboratories that are associated with law enforcement agencies. Many agencies require analysts to perform additional forensic science duties.

Blood Spatter Analyst Salary and Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that forensic science technicians earn a median salary of $56,320 per year as of May 2015.1 The projected job growth through 2024 is much faster than average, at 27%.1 The BLS predicts that open positions in forensic science will be extremely competitive.

Frequently Asked Questions About This Career

How does the bloodstain pattern analysis competency exam work?

Passing a competency exam is common for analysts who want to work independently and offer expert opinions. Various organizations involved in the forensic sciences offer competency exams, which typically require candidates to have a combination of education and experience.

Do bloodstain pattern analysts require additional training once they have passed a competency exam?

Because forensic science continues to evolve, blood spatter analysts usually complete continuing education each year. Continuing education can be in the form of academic study, professional workshops, conferences, or other classes focusing on bloodstain pattern analysis and the forensic sciences.

Additional Resources

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References:
1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Forensic Science Technicians: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/forensic-science-technicians.htm
2. The Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory Services, Forensic Science Communications: January 2008, Vol. 10., No.1: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/lab/forensic-science-communications/fsc/jan2008/standards/2008_01_standards01.htm/