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How to become a forensic science technician


Forensic science is a fascinating field that plays a crucial role in the criminal justice system. Behind every crime scene investigation, there is a team of highly skilled professionals meticulously analysing evidence, drawing conclusions, and helping to bring perpetrators to justice. 

Among these experts are forensic science technicians, people who possess the knowledge and skills necessary to collect, preserve, and analyse scientific evidence to assist in solving crimes. If you have ever been captivated by BBC crime dramas, or intrigued by the prospect of unravelling mysteries through scientific means, then embarking on a career as a forensic science technician may be the perfect fit for you. 

Becoming a forensic science technician requires not only an inherent curiosity for solving puzzles but also years of rigorous education and training. This comprehensive guide from the University of Wolverhampton covers everything you need to know when looking at how to become a forensic science technician.

Table of contents 

  • What do forensic science technicians do?
  • The different types of forensic science technicians
  • How to become a forensic science technician
  • Qualifications to become a forensic scientist
  • What skills do you need?
  • Do you need work experience?
  • Career opportunities
  • Final thoughts: Becoming a forensic science technician

What do forensic science technicians do? 

Forensic science technicians play a vital role in the criminal justice system, bringing science and meticulous analysis to crime scene investigations. 

These dedicated professionals are the unsung heroes behind the scenes, collecting, preserving, and analysing physical evidence that helps solve crimes and bring justice to communities. They document crime scenes, meticulously analyse evidence in specialised laboratories, and provide detailed reports of their findings. 

In court, forensic science technicians may even offer expert testimony to help judges and juries understand the significance of the evidence. By combining their scientific acumen, attention to detail, and commitment to justice, these professionals make a real impact in society, ensuring the guilty are held accountable while protecting the rights of the innocent.

The different types of forensic science technicians 

There are various specialisations within the field of forensic science, each focusing on different aspects of crime scene investigations: 

Forensic laboratory technicians 

Forensic laboratory technicians work primarily in controlled laboratory settings. They are responsible for analysing and examining evidence such as fingerprints, DNA samples, and substances like drugs and toxins. 

Crime scene investigators 

Crime scene investigators are often the first responders to crime scenes. They collect and document physical evidence, ensuring its preservation and proper chain of custody. Crime scene photographers and sketch artists also fall under this category, capturing visual representations of the crime scene. 

Forensic ballistics technicians 

Forensic ballistics technicians meticulously examine firearms, including handguns, rifles, shotguns, and their components, to understand their operation, mechanisms, and unique characteristics. They study the various types of firearms and their functionalities, including semi-automatic, bolt-action, or revolver firearms.

Digital forensic technicians 

Digital forensic technicians focus on extracting and analysing digital evidence from computers, mobile devices, and other electronic media. They employ their expertise in computer systems, data storage, and forensic tools to investigate and uncover digital evidence relevant to criminal investigations.

These are just a few examples of the different types of forensic science technicians in the UK, each playing a crucial role in the investigation and analysis of evidence to support the criminal justice system.

How to become a forensic science technician 

To become a forensic science technician, you must first obtain the relevant qualifications, starting from GCSEs, to A-Levels, to a degree applicable to the field. Such degrees may include a degree in forensic science, chemistry, biology, or another related discipline. You must also ensure that the degree chosen is accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

Once you have completed your degree and gained the necessary results needed, you should then look to gain practical experience. This could be in a laboratory or crime scene setting. Consider internships, work placements, or volunteering with forensic science units, police forces, or private forensic service providers. This hands-on experience will enhance your skills and provide valuable insights into the field.

Next, prospective forensic science technicians can identify the area they want to specialise in. Whether it's DNA analysis, toxicology, ballistics, or digital forensics, specialising in a specific area can give you an edge when applying for jobs and developing your expertise.

After you feel ready, you should apply for entry-level positions. Keep an eye on job boards, government websites, and forensic science organisations for vacancies. Tailor your applications to highlight your relevant qualifications, practical experience, and specialisation. Forensic science is a rapidly evolving field, so it's crucial to stay updated on the latest technologies, methodologies, and legal developments. Participate in continuing professional development (CPD) activities, attend conferences, and engage in relevant training programmes to enhance your knowledge and skills.

Qualifications to become a forensic scientist 

The specific requirements may vary depending on the employer and the nature of the forensic science field you wish to work in. However, here are the general qualifications and steps involved:


To become a forensic science technician, it is commonly preferred or recommended to have A-Levels in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics. A-Level Biology provides a strong foundation in biological concepts and laboratory skills, while A Level Chemistry covers key analytical and organic chemistry topics. A Level Mathematics develops analytical and problem-solving skills, which are essential in forensic science. A Level Physics can be beneficial for areas like ballistics or forensic engineering. Practical experience, internships, or voluntary work in a forensic science laboratory can also enhance your chances of employment as a forensic science technician.

Undergraduate degree 

To become a forensic science technician, you typically need a Bachelor's degree in forensic science or a closely related field. Many universities in the UK offer specialised undergraduate programmes in forensic science that are specifically designed to provide the necessary knowledge and skills for a career in the field. It is advisable to choose a programme that is accredited by professional bodies such as the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS) to ensure that it meets industry standards.

However, it's worth noting that the specific degree requirements can vary depending on the employer and the specific area of forensic science. Some employers may accept degrees in chemistry, biology, or other related disciplines as long as you have relevant coursework or experience in forensic science.

Forensic science programmes we offer: 

What skills do you need? 

Although throughout your career as a forensic science technician, you will gain many useful skills, this field requires a certain way of thinking. The below skills are generally what a forensic science technician possesses:

  • Scientific knowledge - A strong foundation in scientific principles and methodologies is essential.
  • Attention to detail - Forensic science technicians must have exceptional attention to detail. They need to carefully collect, analyse, and document evidence, ensuring that no important information or detail is overlooked. 
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills - The ability to analyse complex information, conclude, and solve problems is essential for forensic science technicians. They must be able to interpret scientific data, identify patterns, and make logical deductions to assist in crime investigations.
  • Critical thinking - Forensic science technicians need strong critical thinking skills to evaluate evidence objectively and draw reliable conclusions. They must be able to assess the validity and reliability of scientific methods, techniques, and results.
  • Communication skills - Effective communication is crucial in forensic science. Technicians need to write clear and concise reports detailing their findings, methodologies, and conclusions.
  • Teamwork and collaboration - Forensic science technicians often work as part of a team, collaborating with other professionals, such as law enforcement officers, forensic pathologists, and legal experts.
  • IT and technological skills - With the increasing reliance on digital evidence, proficiency in using computer software and specialised forensic tools is important. Familiarity with digital forensic techniques and the ability to handle large volumes of electronic data are valuable skills.
  • Time management - Forensic science technicians often face tight deadlines and multiple cases simultaneously. Effective time management skills, prioritisation, and the ability to work efficiently under pressure are essential to meet deadlines and deliver accurate results.

Do you need work experience? 

While work experience is not always a mandatory requirement, it is highly beneficial for aspiring forensic science technicians. Engaging in work experience provides practical skills development, exposure to the industry, networking opportunities, improved employability, and validation of skills. Through hands-on experience in laboratories or crime scenes, individuals gain valuable insights into forensic science operations, learn proper protocols and techniques, and understand the importance of collaboration and teamwork. Work experience also allows candidates to build professional relationships, showcase their commitment to the field, and demonstrate their ability to perform tasks effectively. Although work experience opportunities may vary, exploring internships, placements, volunteering, or alternative avenues can provide valuable practical skills and enhance prospects in the field.

Career opportunities 

Working as a forensic science technician offers many different opportunities within the broad role. Here are some of the popular career paths that forensic science technicians take:

Forensic toxicologist 

A forensic toxicologist specialises in the analysis of bodily fluids, tissues, and other biological samples to determine the presence and concentration of drugs, alcohol, and other toxic substances. They play a critical role in forensic investigations by providing scientific evidence related to toxicology and its impact on criminal cases or post-mortem examinations.

Forensic odontologist 

A forensic odontologist is a dental specialist who plays a crucial role in forensic investigations by examining dental evidence and providing expertise in identifying human remains. Their primary responsibility is to analyse dental records, such as dental charts, X-rays, and photographs, and compare them with the dental features of an unidentified body or human remains. By doing so, they can assist in establishing the identity of an individual or contribute valuable information to criminal investigations, mass disasters, or cases involving missing persons.

Forensic anthropologist 

A forensic anthropologist is a specialised anthropologist who applies their knowledge of human skeletal anatomy and biology to assist in the identification and analysis of human remains in forensic investigations. They primarily focus on the examination and interpretation of skeletal remains to provide crucial information about the deceased individual, such as age, sex, ancestry, stature, and any signs of trauma or pathology.

Forensic document examiner 

A forensic document examiner, also known as a questioned document examiner, is a forensic scientist who specialises in the examination and analysis of documents to determine their authenticity, origin, and veracity. They play a crucial role in forensic investigations involving questioned documents, such as forged signatures, altered or counterfeit documents, anonymous letters, wills, contracts, or any other document that is involved in a legal or criminal investigation.

Final thoughts: becoming a forensic science technician 

Becoming a forensic science technician is a challenging yet rewarding career path. It requires a solid educational foundation in science and an unwavering commitment to detail and accuracy. The field offers a wide range of opportunities for specialisation, from DNA analysis to crime scene investigation. As technology continues to advance, the role of forensic science technicians will only become more crucial in solving crimes and ensuring justice is served. If you have a passion for science, an analytical mind, and a desire to make a difference in the criminal justice system, then pursuing a career as a forensic science technician may be the right choice for you. 

Take the first step towards this exciting profession by exploring the relevant programmes at the University of Wolverhampton.

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