Forensic Practitioner: Job Description and Education Requirements

Forensic practitioners, also referred to as crime scene investigators and forensic science technicians, examine pieces of evidence to provide crucial support in criminal investigations. Their professional expertise is sought in laboratories, crime scenes and courtrooms.

View 14 Popular Schools »

Job Descriptions of Forensic Practitioners

Forensic practitioners collect, analyze and record evidence to aid in criminal investigations. They use details drawn from fingerprints, bodily fluids, footprints and ballistics samples to form a series of possible conclusions for crime scenes. They are also responsible for analyzing hair, blood splatter or DNA. Much of their analysis takes place in a laboratory setting with access to analytical software and criminal databases.

These professionals often serve as expert witnesses for criminal cases that go to trial. Proper collection and storage of evidence is essential for their findings to hold up in a court of law. Forensic practitioners must also document their conclusions adhering to approved procedures and laws. They typically possess a specialty in one area of expertise such as toxicology, DNA analysis or weapons examination. As forensic techniques and technological capabilities evolve, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected slower-than-average job growth of 6% for forensic science technicians from 2012-2022. The BLS also reported that the median salary for forensic science technicians as of May 2013 was $54,360.

Education Requirements of Forensic Practitioners

Most forensic practitioners need a bachelor's degree, preferably in forensic science or another natural science. Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science programs can be completed in about four years and must be accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission ( Students will explore topics in genetic sequencing, evidence collection, biochemistry, bloodstain analysis, criminal justice and anatomy. Some bachelor's degree programs require students to analyze mock crime scenes and complete forensics internships.

Master of Science in Forensic Science programs typically take two years to complete, although some institutions have fast track options where talented students can earn a bachelor's degree in natural science and their master's degree in five years. While not required for entry-level positions, such advanced degree programs are research intensive and provide further opportunities for forensic practitioners to develop a specialty and network with current professionals.

Specialized voluntary certifications are also available in the field for forensic practitioners. Certifications are available through the American Board of Forensic Toxicology and the American Board of Criminalistics. Candidates must hold at least a bachelor's degree and some experience in the field.

Show me popular schools

Related to Forensic Practitioner: Job Description and Education Requirements

  • Related
  • Recently Updated
  • Popular
Universities with Majors in Forensic Pathology: How to Choose

Forensic pathology is a medical specialty concerned with identifying the cause of death during an autopsy. Universities do not...

Best Colleges for Forensic Pathology: List of Top Schools

Explore some of the best colleges offering programs in the field of forensic pathology. Read up on two top universities,...

Best Forensic Accounting Schools: List of Top Schools

Learn about some of the top schools in the country to offer programs in forensic accounting. Get ranking details on the schools...

Forensic Examiner Certification and Training Program Information

Forensic examiner can refer to many careers, including that of a forensic pathologist. Certification in forensic pathology can...

Forensic Psychology Undergraduate Program Information by Level

Popular Schools

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics