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 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 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.
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.
Common techniques 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.
Steps for Becoming a Blood Spatter Analyst
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 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, biology, or 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 and workshops to continually update their skills and knowledge.
To become a blood spatter analyst, you can expect to follow steps similar to the following:
- Acquire the education and experience needed for the blood spatter analyst position you are targeting.
- Apply for a position as a blood spatter analyst.
- Pass a background check.
- Take and pass a drug test.
- Be interviewed for the position.
- Get hired as a blood spatter analyst.
- Receive job training once hired.
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 the education and experience requirements may also seek certification through such organizations as the International Association for Identification or the American Board of Criminalistics.
Possible Job Titles for This Career
- Blood Spatter Analyst
- Bloodstain Pattern Analyst
Blood Spatter Analyst Salary and Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that forensic science technicians earned a median salary of $57,850 per year as of May 2017.1 The projected job growth for this occupation through 2026 is much faster than average, at 17%.1 The BLS predicts that open positions in forensic science will be extremely competitive; candidates with education and experience may have the best chances at securing a job in this field.
Interested in a career similar to a blood spatter analyst? Check out these related careers:
- Computer Forensics Investigator
- Crime Lab Analyst
- Forensic Accountant
- Forensic Anthropologist
- Forensic Ballistics Expert
- Forensic Nursing
- Forensic Psychology
- Forensic Science Technician
- Crime Scene Investigator
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How does the bloodstain pattern analysis competency exam work?
Answer: 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.
Question: Do bloodstain pattern analysts require additional training once they have passed a competency exam?
Answer: 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.
- International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts – Professional organization for analysts providing training and networking opportunities.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation Guidelines for Bloodstain Pattern Analysts: Provides guidance on educational and training requirements for FBI careers in bloodstain pattern analysis.
- Documenting Bloodstain Patterns Through Roadmapping: Article from Forensic Magazine about introductory methods for documenting bloodstain patterns.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Forensic Science Technicians: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/forensic-science-technicians.htm