Crime Lab Analyst Career Guide

Crime lab analysts collect, identify, classify, and process evidence collected from crime scenes. They use the evidence to help investigators identify the methods used to commit the crimes, the types of materials present, and possible suspects.

Crime Lab Analyst Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks

Crime lab analysts process physical evidence submitted by investigators to help identify what is and what is not significant to the investigation. Analysts solve the crime scene puzzle based on the pieces presented. They examine evidence and prepare reports for grand jury and court presentation. Crime lab analysts prepare for and testify in court. Many crime lab analysts specialize in specific areas of evidence identification such as ballistics, fingerprinting, handwriting, blood splatter analysis, and tire impressions.

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How to Become a Crime Lab Analyst: Requirements and Qualifications

Crime laboratory analysts must generally have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, criminology, criminal justice, or physical sciences. Many state and federal crime labs, however, require a master’s degree or a doctorate. In addition, crime lab analysts must possess excellent communication skills and the ability to prepare and to present reports.

Crime Lab Analyst Job Training

Many employers require crime lab analysts to have some related experience. Prospective analysts can gain hands-on experience by completing an internship during their undergraduate and/or graduate studies. Still, crime laboratory analysts may be required to complete training specific to the hiring organization.

Other Helpful Skills and Experience

Successful analysts must be detailed-oriented and have the keen ability to think analytically. Due to the necessity of presenting findings in written form, crime laboratory analysts must be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing. Those prospective analysts with previous experience in science and with laboratory equipment may have a competitive edge. Former law enforcement and military members may find that experience advantageous during the hiring process.

Examples of Possible Job Titles for this Career

  • Crime laboratory analyst
  • Forensic lab analyst
  • Forensic science technician

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Career Opportunities and Employers

Crime lab analysts work for the public and the private sectors. However, most work in the public sector through local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Lab analysts should be prepared to continue their education to keep up with the latest forensic science advances. Individuals who gain experience as a crime lab analyst or who earn an advanced degree may have more opportunities for advancement to such positions as crime lab director or supervisor.

Crime Lab Analyst Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t provide salary data for this occupation but does report a median salary of $52,840 per year for the related occupation of forensic science technicians.1 Crime lab analysts with computer-related and lab experience are expected to have greater success in finding employment. Additionally, some specialized areas are expected to grow faster than others. Salaries for these positions vary depending on agency, geographic location, education, and area of expertise.

Frequently Asked Questions About This Career

What is a common work schedule for a crime laboratory analyst?
Most work a 40 hour week inside the crime lab; however, there may be some irregular hours and travel involved.

What kind of personality is best suited for a crime scene analyst?
The most successful analysts thrive best in a routine. Some of the work done by analysts is repetitive.

What can I expect from a background investigation?
A background investigation may include some or all of the following: education history, employment history, credit history, and a criminal record check.

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Additional Resources

American Society of Crime Lab Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board – This organization provides accreditation and training for crime laboratories.

Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations – An association of professional forensic science organizations dedicated to forensic scientists.

Marshall University – A forensic science career guide.

Forensic Trak – A forensic science resource center, including education resources, job board, and tools.

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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. Marshall University: http://www.marshall.edu/forensics/files/1-Forensic-Science-Career-Guide-For-Internship-and-Job-Seekers.pdf

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.