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.

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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 could be a trace amount in the form of a trail or a print, or it could involve a large loss of blood. An analyst uses several different techniques to collect the evidence from the scene for later processing at a lab.

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blood spatter analystCommon techniques may involve taking photographs, using swabs and ultraviolent 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 a 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.

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Blood spatter analysts generally must possess a bachelor’s degree, usually in criminal justice, particularly forensic science. Those candidates without a bachelor’s degree must hold an associate’s degree plus two years of job-related experience. Bloodstain pattern analyst candidates with only a high school diploma must possess four years of job-related experience in such positions as criminalist, crime scene investigator, or homicide investigator.

Specific classes in the bachelor’s or the associate’s degree program will include biology, anatomy, criminology, constitutional law, and statistical analysis. These will eventually transition into specific classes dealing with blood that will help a bloodstain pattern analyst reveal 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 hiree must work closely with a mentor. Under the supervision of the mentor, the new bloodstain pattern analyst will watch experts testify in court and will work at crime scenes and in the laboratory. Before a new blood spatter analyst can work on his own, he must first pass an exam, illustrating his competency in bloodstain pattern analysis.

Other Helpful Skills and Experience

Aspiring blood spatter analysts will find that prior note taking, photography, and sketching skills will all be beneficial to the training process. Many bloodstain pattern analysts have prior law enforcement experience.

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 Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that forensic science technicians earn a median salary of $52,840 per year as of May 2012.1 The projected job growth between 2012 and 2022 is lower than average at 6 percent. 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 mandatory for new analysts who want to work independently and to offer expert opinions. During the mandatory mentorship training, rookie analysts can take their exam in steps or at one time. For example, a new analyst can take a competency exam on photographing evidence. If he passes that exam, he can then practice taking photographs under the supervision of his mentor.

Do bloodstain pattern analysts require additional training once they have passed the competency exam?
Because forensic science continues to evolve, all blood spatter analysts must complete eight hours of continuing education each year. The continuing education requirement can be fulfilled by going to professional workshops, conferences, or classes focusing on bloodstain pattern analysis.3

Additional Resources

International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts

The Federal Bureau of Investigation

Documenting Bloodstain Patterns Through Roadmapping

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References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/forensic-science-technicians.htm
2. Echaore-McDavid, Susan and McDavid Richard A. Career Opportunities in Forensic Science. New York: Ferguson, 2008.
3. FBI.gov: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/lab/forensic-science-communications/fsc/jan2008/standards/2008_01_standards01.htm/

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.