How to Become a Forensic Science Technician – In 6 Steps + Full Guide

Forensic science technicians have critical roles in performing a variety of duties that help law enforcement officers solve crimes.

Becoming a forensic science technician requires that a person has specialized knowledge and skills to work at crime scenes, at labs, and in other settings.

Forensic Science Technician

Use your attention to detail, dedication to getting the job done, and your desire to work in this specialized field to become a forensic science technician.

Get the education, training, and certification required for an entry-level position or to open new doors as you pursue career advancement.

Forensic scientists combine the sciences with the field of law enforcement to perform their job responsibilities.

The job requires that people understand the technical skills and the interpersonal skills that are involved in the career.

Excellent career opportunities are available for a person who wants to become a forensic science technician.

Job Description

Forensic science technicians are employed by local, state, and federal law enforcement departments and agencies.

They have a fast-paced job that requires them to work in various locations and settings.

Some people who work as forensic scientists work in labs, while others work at crime scenes.

Some other forensic science technicians work in settings where they specialize in computer-based crimes.

Forensic science technicians also work in morgues, police departments, and as independent forensic science consultants.

A forensic science technician assists with criminal investigations and works with a moderate level of supervision.

They perform duties that may help a law enforcement department solve a crime at any stage of the forensic investigation or analysis.


  • Taking photographs of evidence and crime scenes
  • Collecting and preserving evidence
  • Determining what method to use to collect each piece of evidence
  • Interpreting physical evidence to determine which evidence is appropriate
  • Using specialized laboratory equipment to perform analysis and other responsibilities
  • Performing biological, chemical, and microscopic analysis on each piece of evidence that is taken from a crime scene
  • Determining links between suspects and criminal activity by using DNA analysis or other methods
  • Collaborating with other professionals in the scientific community and the law enforcement community
  • Recording observations and findings
  • Creating and delivering reports on their findings and analysis
  • Testifying in court proceedings


The average salary for a forensic science technician in 2024 is $64,163.

The annual salary typically ranges from just under $58,000 to just under $75,500.

The average hourly pay for a forensic science technician in 2024 is $31 an hour.

The hourly wage for forensic science technicians typically ranges from $28 to $36 an hour.

The annual salary and the hourly pay depend on several factors, such as the education, skills, and experience that a forensic science technician has and the location where they work.

A forensic science technician who has a college degree, a certification, advanced skills, and years of experience will earn a higher salary than a forensic science technician who has little experience, skills, and education.

Salary Information by State

State Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
New Hampshire40$73,250$35.21$89,320$55,850
New Jersey60$59,120$28.42$77,780$48,150
New Mexico160$56,780$27.30$80,870$29,820
New York730$82,100$39.47$104,330$62,510
North Carolina490$51,300$24.67$64,030$38,720
South Carolina130$49,490$23.79$65,890$36,310
West Virginia110$50,120$24.10$66,990$34,710
Puerto Rico130$35,890$17.26$49,030$25,360

Annual Average Salary: Top 10 States

The top earning state in the field is Oregon, where the average salary is $93,900.

These are the top 10 earning states in the field:

  • Oregon - $93,900
  • California - $93,630
  • Illinois - $91,380
  • Massachusetts - $87,500
  • New York - $82,100
  • Connecticut - $81,760
  • Minnesota - $76,890
  • Colorado - $75,150
  • Washington - $74,990
  • Maryland - $74,600
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Forensic Science Technicians, OCC Code 19-4092, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

How to Become a Forensic Science Technician: Step-by-Step

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum educational requirement to become a forensic science technician.

Most students who want to have a career as a forensic science technician earn a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, biology, chemistry, or physical science.

Do you have an interest in working in a specific area of forensic science?

Many forensic science programs offer specializations, such as pathology, toxicology, or biochemistry.

Students who want to work in an advanced area of forensic science, or who are practicing forensic science technicians who want to advance their careers to work in leadership roles likely want to complete a master’s degree program in forensic science.

A master’s degree program in forensic science typically offers courses in areas such as human forensic DNA, forensic toxicology, criminal procedures for forensic scientists, and applied biostatistics.

Step 2: Choose a Specialty

Choosing a specialty is important because it helps to determine where you will likely work.

It will also help you when determining the best courses to take in a college degree program or in a training program after graduating from college.

Do you want to work at crime scenes, in a laboratory, or at a medical examiner’s office?

Decide whether you want to work in a setting as a forensic psychologist, a forensic science toxicologist, or one of the several other specialty areas that are available to forensic science technicians.

Step 3: Complete a Training Program

Many areas have training programs for forensic science technicians that are available after they complete their bachelor’s degree.

The training may also serve as a probationary period for a new forensic science technician.

The person works under the direct supervision of an experienced, senior forensic scientist.

Completing a training program provides a new forensic scientist with the basic skills to perform a variety of skills that are needed to work in the field of forensic science.

Step 4: Pass the Required Proficiency Exam

Some states require that a person who wants to work as a forensic science technician must pass a proficiency exam.

The exam will cover topics such as competency in forensic science, and departmental standards.

A proficiency exam will also cover report writing, and evidentiary procedures, and will test your critical thinking skills.

Step 5: Complete a Background Check

Forensic science candidates will complete a background check during the hiring process.

The department or agency where you will work requires that you have the background check to advance in the hiring process.

Refusing to complete the background check is likely to result in a withdrawal of your candidacy for a job as a forensic science technician.

Step 5: Obtain a Licensure or Certification

Forensic science technicians usually complete a certification program to obtain professional recognition or for career advancement.

Obtain certification from a nationally recognized specialty board.

Some specialty boards to consider for certification include the American Board of Criminalistics, the International Association for Identification, the American Board of Medicolegal Death Examiners, and the American Board of Forensic Toxicology.

Check with the state where you plan to work as a forensic science technician to learn whether that state requires a specific license.

Step 6: Apply for a Forensic Science Technician Job

Forensic science technicians are in high demand.

That does not mean that you should wait until you complete a graduate degree or join several organizations dedicated to promoting forensic science before you apply for a job.

Consider applying for a forensic science technician job while in your senior year of your undergraduate program.

Many departments and organizations that hire forensic science technicians have internship programs.

You may be able to apply at that time.

Research the requirements for each job that you apply for once you meet the basic requirements to work as a forensic science technician. Some forensic science specialties have additional requirements.

One example where additional requirements are needed is in the field of forensic odontology.

The forensic odontologist must also have a dental degree.


Forensic science technicians must earn a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.

Make sure that the school that you plan to attend offers a forensic science technician program, a degree in biochemistry, or a related program.

Do you want to work as a general forensic science technician, or do you want to work in a specialized area?

Students who want to work in a specialized field of forensic science usually enroll in an undergraduate program that offers concentrations or specializations, such as criminalistics, toxicology, forensic anthropology, or digital forensics.

Consider continuing your education to earn a master’s degree.

Complete a graduate degree in forensic science or a closely related field to improve your chances of getting the job that you want when you apply for jobs to work as a forensic science technician.

Earning a master’s degree also helps to increase career advancement opportunities.

Licensing and Certification

Some states require forensic science technicians to have a license to work in the field of forensic science.

A person who wants to become a forensic science technician must check the licensure requirements for the state where they want to work.

Obtaining a license is a detailed process.

Make sure that you complete all the required steps before you apply for a license to work as a forensic science technician.

Each state, jurisdiction, or employer is likely to have their requirements for earning a forensic science technician license.

Some employers or states often require that forensic science technicians earn one or more certifications.

Learn the requirements for certification in your state or for specific employers.

Completing one or more certification programs helps to give you an edge over other applicants for forensic science technician jobs, even if the certification is not required for that employer or your state.

Earning a certification gives you advanced knowledge and skills.

It also provides you with recognition as a certified forensic science technician.

Job Outlook

The job outlook is great for forensic science technicians.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that the employment of forensic science technicians is expected to grow by 13 percent through the year 2032.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be about 2,600 openings for forensic science technicians each year, which will result in much faster than the average job growth, compared to all occupations.

Should You Become a Forensic Science Technician?

Overall Satisfaction: Medium

Forensic science technicians work in a job that is sometimes dangerous.

The danger of the job may affect job satisfaction levels.

Despite the possible danger, many forensic science technicians indicate that they are happy with the flexibility of their job.

They find their job to be meaningful and are satisfied with their work environment.

One area where forensic science technicians may not have a high level of satisfaction is their salary.

They may feel that they should earn a higher salary for the work that they do.

Average Salary: Medium reveals that the average salary for a forensic science technician in 2024 is $64,163.

The average annual salary typically ranges from just over $57,400 to just over $75,400.

The average hourly salary for forensic science technicians is $31.

The hourly pay usually ranges from $28 to $36 an hour.

Job Growth Outlook: High

The number of available forensic science technician jobs is expected to grow significantly through the next decade.

New forensic science technicians who have advanced degrees, certifications, or advanced skills are likely to get the best jobs.

The excellent job growth outlook means that forensic science technicians who want to apply for their first job or who want to advance their career should not have any trouble finding their ideal job.

Education Duration: 4 to 6 years

Forensic science technicians must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, which requires four years of study.

Completing a master’s degree program in forensic science or a closely related field usually requires an additional two years of study.

Most programs will require completing an internship.

Earning certifications will also take additional time.

Personal Skills Needed

  • Interpersonal skills to interact with professionals from a variety of law enforcement and scientific organizations and departments
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Being detail-oriented
  • Being meticulous in every aspect of the job
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Organization skills
  • Ability to maintain composure in all job situations

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do you have to go to school to become a forensic science technician?

A person who wants to become a forensic science technician must complete a minimum of a four-year bachelor’s degree program.

Attending school on a part-time basis rather than on a full-time basis will extend the length of time that it takes to complete the required bachelor’s degree.

People who want to earn a master’s degree usually go to school for an additional two years.

The length of time that it takes to complete the program usually depends on the structure of the program at each school.

Are forensic science technicians in high demand?

Forensic science technicians are in great demand.

The job outlook indicates that thousands of forensic science technician jobs will be available for the next several years.

What kind of education do you need to become a forensic science technician?

The minimum education required to work as a forensic science technician is a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, biochemistry, biology, or a related field.

Many forensic science students choose a concentration that aligns with their specific interests.

Students may continue their education to earn a master’s degree in forensic science or a closely related field to have improved career opportunities.

How much money does a forensic science technician make a year?

Some sites vary in their listings for the average salary for forensic science technicians.

A site may have published its information in a previous year.

A forensic science technician earns an average annual salary of $64,163 in 2024.

The money that a forensic science technician makes depends on things such as their experience, education, and the state or setting where they work.

What skills do you need to be a forensic science technician?

Forensic science technicians need a variety of technical and personal skills.

They must be able to work at all hours since crime does not occur on a 9 to 5 schedule.

Forensic science technicians must be physically able to perform their job.

They have to know which evidence to collect, how to collect it, and how to preserve it.

Forensic science technicians must have the scientific and legal skills to perform their job.

They must have the skills to use specialized equipment.

Personal skills are important when working as a forensic science technician.

Skills such as being detail-oriented, having organizational skills, and excellent communication skills are important personal skills for forensic science technicians.

Chelsea Wilson

About Chelsea Wilson

Chelsea Wilson is the Community Relations Manager for Washington University School of Law’s distance learning LLM degree program, which provides foreign trained attorneys with the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws degree from a top-tier American university from anywhere in the world.

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