Government Job Profile: Evidence Technician

evidence technician cutting up bloody clothing
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Do you want to protect the public from bad guys but are a little hesitant to carry a handgun on your belt? If you preferred a chemistry set to playing cops and robbers as a child, a career as an evidence technician might be for you.

Evidence technicians assist police detectives in collecting, processing and analyzing evidence. They apply science to bolster the criminal cases detectives hand over to prosecutors.

There is little consistency among what law enforcement agencies call the various positions involved in evidence processing and collection. For the purposes of this article an evidence technician is not a crime scene investigator. A crime scene investigator is a sworn police officer, and an evidence technician is a civilian who has expertise in the collection and processing of criminal evidence.

Since forensic science dramas became a popular television show sub-genre in the early 2000s, the work of evidence technicians and other forensic scientists have become more familiar to the general public. Because of this, law enforcement personnel and prosecutors have become increasingly concerned with the CSI effect which purports that juries are less likely to convict guilty criminals in the absence of forensic evidence. The CSI effect is yet to be empirically proven through academic research.

The Education You'll Need

Evidence technician jobs most often require at least an associates degree related to the work to be performed.

Many community colleges offer degree plans for those seeking evidence technician jobs.

The Experience You Need

Experience is not required for evidence technician positions as long as the job candidate has the appropriate education for the position.

What You'll Do

Evidence technicians spend much of their time in a lab and at crime scenes.

They may be called to crime scenes by detectives investigating major crimes like murders, burglaries, robberies and rapes. While at the scene, evidence technicians collect and catalog pieces of evidence. They often take photographs as they work though the crime scene.

Evidence technicians must work in all weather conditions and perform tasks that may be strenuous for some people. Those with physical disabilities may find this work too challenging.

Evidence technicians exercise extreme caution to ensure the integrity of the evidence and the methods of collection. They ensure that evidence is not thrown out by a judge because of shoddy crime scene work.

Once evidence technicians transport the evidence back to the lab, they use forensic science to help the evidence tell the story of what transpired at the crime scene. Detectives use the test results and expert reports from evidence technicians to build their cases against alleged perpetrators.

The evidence can include bodily fluids and even body parts, so the job is not for the squeamish. An evidence technician cannot choose the evidence to be processed. No matter how gross, an evidence technician must perform the job duties.

What You'll Earn

Evidence technicians typically earn between $30,000 and $50,000 annually depending on the cost of living in the area.