How Do You Become a Crime Lab Analyst?

After watching shows like “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” you might wonder what steps you should take to become a crime lab analyst. A crime scene analyst, also known as a forensic analyst or forensic technician, is someone who works in a crime lab and examines the evidence that police officers find. They might run tests on guns and bullets, look at DNA evidence or compare fingerprints found at crime scenes. Before you can work as an analyst, you must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.

Become a College Graduate

You should always check with the crime lab in your area to find out more about the requirements of working as an analyst. While some departments will hire those with a bachelor’s degree, you may need a master’s degree or even a PhD. The degree needed may depend on your area of expertise too. Someone who specializes in DNA recovery and testing may need a higher degree than someone who specializes in ballistics. Depending on the program you choose, you may have the chance to do an internship and work for a local crime lab as part of your studies.

Apply for Licenses and Certifications

The types of licenses and certifications you need will vary from district to district. Many departments require that analysts have a gun permit or a concealed carry license. Having a gun on your person will help you protect yourself while working in the field. You may look at some of the certifications available from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences before you become a crime lab analyst. Certification from this organization shows that you are an expert in your field and may help you secure a job.

Develop the Right Skills

Crime lab analysts need a unique set of skills. They must have the ability to work long hours independently and with little supervision. You will also need strong time management skills because you may work on dozens of cases every day or in a single week. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists some of the other skills that forensic analysts need as including physical strength, critical thinking skills and problem solving skills. You may also need strong public speaking or communications skills because you may need to present the evidence you found in a courtroom.

Consider Becoming a Police Officer

Before you can become a crime lab analyst, you should check with local labs about whether you need to go through police training. Many crime labs across the country are now part of local police departments. The analysts working in those departments are also police officers. They have the right to carry a gun and a badge, can question witnesses on the scene and may spend just as much time working in the field as they do in the lab. If you must be a police officer, you’ll need to go through the police academy, pass a written test, pass a physical exam and go through multiple psychology tests and background checks to prove you are fit enough for the job.

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Crime scene analysts gather evidence and run tests on the evidence gathered by others. To become a crime lab analyst, you will need some type of college degree, but you may also need to become a police officer and get your certification too.