What is a Crime Lab Analyst?

Individuals with a love for science and mystery should consider becoming a crime lab analyst to carefully examine evidence from crime scenes. Crime lab analysts, also called forensic science technicians or criminalists, help law enforcement officers by collecting and scientifically studying clues left behind by suspects. Most crime lab analysts are generalists, but others specialize in analyzing weaponry, computer systems, blood spatter, fingerprints, and DNA. High-tech innovations have increased the reliability of forensic data as evidence in the U.S. court system. That means the employment of crime lab analysts will spike much faster-than-average to provide irrefutable proof to jurors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although job growth is predicted by 27 percent through 2024, this small profession will only add around 3,800 positions. Competition is still strong, so make sure this is your ideal career fit by reading the following overview on crime lab analysts.

What Crime Lab Analysts Do

The crime lab analyst’s job is essential in pointing detectives in the right direction for identifying and detaining offenders for criminal prosecution. Analysts will use investigative science to examine any chemical or biological evidence gathered from the crime scene. They reference the Combined DNA Indexing System (CODIS) to link potential suspects to the offense. For computer-based crimes, analysts will click away to uncover traces of digital evidence through security walls. Crime lab analysts must follow strict standards to preserve the integrity of evidence while testing it and reconstructing the scene. It’s common for them to consult with toxicologists, odontologists, medical examiners, and other forensic pathologists.

Where Crime Lab Analysts Work

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are 14,070 crime lab analysts working across the United States. Like their name implies, most of their work is completed in well-equipped crime laboratories. The majority, over 85 percent, are employed in labs operated by local, state, and federal government agencies. Crime lab analysts could also find jobs with police departments, morgues, coroner offices, hospitals, and research institutes. Some are employed in the private sector for consulting on criminal cases. Nearly all crime lab analysts work full-time, but shifts may fluctuate from daytime to evening hours. Although they’re often on call, crime lab analysts generally travel less than crime scene investigators.

How to Become a Crime Lab Analyst

Analyzing evidence in a professional manner that withstands in court requires significant training and experience. Crime lab analysts must hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. Declaring an undergraduate major in forensic science or criminal investigation is suggested. Some crime lab analysts earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology, or another natural science before a master’s in forensic science. Programs approved by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission offer the best preparation. Internships and on-the-job training is needed to learn complex laboratory specialties. Analysts can pursue certification to further advance their careers. For instance, the International Association for Identification (IAI) offers a Certified Crime Scene Analyst credential.

Related Resource: Criminology

Crime lab analysts are detail-oriented sleuths who systematically analyze physical crime scene evidence down to every fiber and hair strand. Lab analysis is a much more intricate and pain-staking process than shown on popular TV shows. However, this path is rewarding for science lovers wishing to fight for justice. Crime lab analysts are compensated with an average annual salary of $60,090, or $28.89 per hour. Being a crime lab analyst will place you behind the scenes finding the proof that solidifies suspects’ involvement in felonies.