While forensic science technicians also collect and analyze evidence, they typically specialize in either crime scene investigation or laboratory analysis. This role is more focused on the evidence itself — taking photos of crime scenes, making sketches, taking notes — before collecting it, cataloging it and preserving it for transport to crime labs. Once the evidence arrives at the lab, they run tests, consult with experts and can even be tasked with reconstructing crime scenes.
Frequently, analysts and technicians will have a bachelor’s degree in a natural science, like chemistry or biology. They will then get their post-graduate degree in criminal justice to round out their knowledge. Arizona State University offers an online Master of Arts in Criminal Justice to assist individuals in building strong leadership skills and developing a deeper understanding of the criminal justice field as a whole.
A typical day in the life of a criminal analyst
If you pursue a career as a criminal analyst or forensic science technician, your day will revolve around criminal evidence in one way or another. It could start with collecting evidence from a crime scene, checking for fingerprints, compiling items left behind or simply documenting the scene with photos and notes. These professionals must be meticulous when executing such procedures.
Once evidence is back at the lab, technicians are responsible for running tests. This could involve performing chemical, biological and microscopic analyses or checking for DNA. They are also in charge of generating reports for the investigation. Based on the analysis of the evidence collected, as well as any additional information received from field experts, professionals write up their findings to aid in the completion of the investigation.
Criminal analysts may work on ongoing projects, researching and analyzing criminal activity in a given area. They might search for information using maps and available statistics to find new solutions to existing issues. Interpreting surveys and statistical data with advanced crime analysis techniques can also come into play on a day-to-day basis in this role.
Criminal analysts and forensic science technicians can also work in police departments, morgues and medical examiner offices.