What is a Crime Lab Analyst?

A crime lab analyst is a scientific professional who works for or with law enforcement agencies. They actually perform a wide array of different and very specialized crime analysis duties. For example, a firearm lab analyst will conduct technical and scientific examinations of firearms recovered from crime scenes. They will gather instrumental data, document test results and identify various types of physical evidence. These crime lab analysts will usually have a bachelor’s degree in a physical, biological or forensic science major with experience as a court-qualified forensic analyst.

Crime Lab Analysis – Chemistry

A crime lab analyst who specializes in chemistry will conduct detailed microscopic and instrumental analysis on physical evidence. Their goal is to determine the identity, usage and relation of the materials to the crime scene or event. The instrumental equipment they use includes ultraviolet, fluorescence, gas chromatographs, mass spectrometers and infrared spectrophotometers. These crime scene analysts must understand the terminology and techniques used in the analysis of physical evidence. Their forensic laboratory knowledge must include the correct procedures for providing expert testimony in court proceedings. Thus, they must fully comprehend the proper procedures for packaging, handling and preserving crime scene evidence. They will need a bachelor’s or advanced degree in chemistry with completed courses in physical, biological and forensic science.

Crime Lab Analysis – Digital Investigations

Not all crime scenes involve violence and weapons. There are many types of digital crimes that need the skills of computer wizards. These crime lab analysts will have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college in computer science, forensics, and engineering. They will have specialized training in digital investigations, law enforcement and white collar crime. They conduct detailed lab examinations of various computer evidence involved in criminal cases. The results of their forensic examinations are incorporated into written reports used in legal proceedings. They must apply scientific methods when conducting research, formulating hypotheses, translating data and postulating conclusions. They must be very skilled in advanced forensic and scientific experiments of electronic equipment. They must be able to provide sworn testimony as an expert witness in court proceedings.

Crime Lab Analysis – Crime Scene Technicians

Some crime lab analysts work in the field with law enforcement responding to criminal events and scenes. They are responsible for processing and reconstructing crime scene events. Therefore, they must document, collect and preserve evidence. Afterwards, they will examine scene photographs, examine physical evidence, interact with police, produce reports, analyze statistics and prepare court testimony. Senior crime scene technicians are responsible for instructing law enforcement in proper crime scene management and associated forensic techniques. The laboratory examinations they perform may include digital photography, forensic biochemistry and mobile phone examination. Most crime lab analysts work in on-call response units that operate 24/7. Most readers who watch popular police procedural television shows will recognize crime scene forensic techniques that analyze tire, footwear, bloodstain, fingerprint, bullet trajectory and trace evidence.

Related Resource: What is a Court Clerk?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that forensic science technicians generally earn $56,320 per year or $27.08 per hour. This career is expected to continue growing at 17 percent until the year 2020. All of these jobs will require an accredited college degree and accredited law enforcement agency certification.