A Career in Biometrics, No Specialized Degree Required

fingerprintBiometrics is no longer only the realm of forensic technicians and science fiction. Advancing technology, including phones that permit users to lock and unlock their media devices using a fingerprint, has made biometrics increasingly more mainstream.

Beyond media devices, biometrics allows governments and corporations to enhance and extend security measures, and is even being utilized in targeted marketing. The increasing utility of biometrics as technology catches up to practices that were previously the domain of thought experiments has meant an expansion in job opportunities in the field of criminal justice and beyond.

A biometric is virtually any biological or behavioral characteristic that can be used to identify a specific person, according to one definition from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This would include fingerprints as well as DNA, unique patterns found in an individual’s irises, and other patterns such as those found in the face, voice, and palm. Additional personal attributes, including keystroke patterns in typing or word choice analysis of written materials, are also included in the biometrics field.

The scope of applications for biometrics is vast. The International Biometrics & Identification Association is at the forefront of identifying and suggesting guidelines for the use of biometrics in various industries and has recognized novel uses for biometrics such as identifying impersonators and dishonest gamblers in gaming facilities; implementing biometric time and attendance for employees; and enhancing school security, among other purposes.

For those interested in entering the field of biometrics, it might be of use to know that a specialized degree is not necessarily required. According to Christian Petrou, CEO of RVNUE Technologies, an understanding of business models and applications may be more important to aspiring biometrics professionals. Knowledge of human behavior, patterning, and the technology behind biometrics are also useful for starting a career in this field.

According to an analysis performed by Transparency Market Research, growth in purchases of biometric readers is expected to grow by a rate of 48 percent between 2011 and 2018. Sample careers that may be created from this gain include biometrics coders, analysts, systems designers, and security consultants.

Many more biometrics careers are available in law enforcement and government. In some cases, criminal justice agencies may use consulting firms with expertise in biometrics and biometric technology. In other cases, agencies may hire biometrics professionals directly, beginning at the entry level. Such is the case with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is using biometrics particularly applicable to criminal justice through its Next Generation Identification Program Office. The FBI also administers the Biometric Center of Excellence program, which includes among its recent projects an interagency facial recognition series.

As the field of biometrics grows so too will the number of job opportunities for criminal justice professionals. Individuals who are interested in the biometrics aspects of criminal justice may want to take a second look at this potential career choice.