Every serious crime scene investigator needs a crime lab. And every serious crime lab needs crime lab technicians to assist the forensic scientists. A crime lab technician performs the tasks needed to analyze pieces of evidence in order to help solve a crime. For instance, a crime lab technician may perform DNA tests on a blood sample to reveal information about the victim of a violent crime.
Since a wide variety of tests are performed in the crime lab, technicians often specialize in their areas of expertise. A crime lab technician with extensive knowledge of firearms, for example, could specialize in ballistics. On the other hand, a technician with expertise in chemistry could specialize in chemical analysis. Whatever specialty a crime lab technician chooses, he or she will play one of the most important roles in crime scene investigation.
As a general requirement, those looking to be crime lab technicians are advised to earn a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology, forensic science or a related field. Another useful course of study is crime technology, which familiarizes students with much of the equipment used in crime labs. In addition to this basic education, classes for each desired specialty are also available. Having a specialty may make it easier to find work as a crime lab technician.
Competition for open crime lab technician positions can be fierce. Increase your changes of landing a job by studying a hard science in college, such as chemistry or biology.
As of this writing, the average yearly salary of a crime lab technician is $38,000. This number is highly dependent, however, on age, experience and qualifications.
Crime lab technicians are among the most essential members of any investigation team, and will therefore enjoy many job opportunities, although career advancement is limited.