Becoming an Evidence Technician: Job Description & Salary Info

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Get the truth about an evidence technician's salary, education and training requirements and career prospects. Read the job description and see the pros and cons of becoming an evidence technician.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Evidence Collecting

If you're interested in a career in evidence collecting, you may become a property and records evidence technician who works in a warehouse environment or a field evidence technician who processes crime scenes. Find out about the pros and cons of becoming an evidence technician before deciding if this job is for you.

Pros of a Career in Evidence Collecting
Work on a wide variety of cases to determine who committed the crime and how crime was committed***
Opportunity to work in different environments as a property and records evidence tech or a field evidence tech***
May teach others how to be an evidence technician****
Property and records evidence technician only needs a high school diploma*

Cons of Career in Evidence Collecting
May come in contact with evidence that contains hazardous materials or pathogens, or evidence with strong odors or biohazard properties*
Can be stressful due to contact with disturbing crime scenes*****
May be necessary to work long hours, holidays and weekends***
Very physical job (i.e. standing, bending, stretching and stooping, as well as carrying and lifting heavy packages)*
Field evidence technicians work outside under various conditions (good weather and bad)**

Sources: *Municipality of Anchorage, **FBI job ad, ***ExploreHealthCareers.org,**** California State University Long Beach, and *****U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Job Descriptions

A job as a property and records evidence technician is custody/administrative-based, with tasks related to the inventory, transportation, categorization and documentation of evidence. The technician works in a warehouse, looking after items removed from a crime scene. He or she is accountable for the integrity and security of the evidence once it arrives at the lab and while it's in the tech's control, custody and care.

A job as a field evidence technician, or CSI, is evidence collection/documentation-based. He or she cordons off the crime scene and works the scene to find and process items that may help with the prosecution of the individuals responsible for the crime. This involves taking fingerprints and photographs and collecting trace evidence from the scene, such as hair, skin, paint chips, clothing, fibers and blood. Field evidence technicians also take measurements and sketch the crime scene, and must take note of all items removed and package them properly. They also write reports and testify in court. Evidence technicians may have additional duties depending on where they work. They may be in charge of the holding facility, as well as fingerprinting prisoners.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that field evidence technicians, classified as forensic science technicians, made a median annual salary of about $55,000 as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). The BLS predicted employment for field evidence technicians to increase by 6% from 2012-2022.

Salary data for property and records technicians is hard to find. Here are some approximate representative salaries in different states for positions advertised from employers from January-April 2012:

State Pay
Illinois$43,000-$59,000
Virginia$30,000-$48,000
Florida$31,000-$46,000
Arizona $33,000-$44,000

What Are the Requirements?

Education Requirements

Property and Documents Evidence Technician

To become a property and evidence technician, you need to generally need to possess a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers prefer applicants with experience working in a warehouse and using a forklift. Other useful skills are experience with chain of custody and storing and receiving documents and properties.

Field Evidence Technician

The requirements for field evidence technicians vary with each agency. You may only need a high school diploma, or you may need a bachelor's degree in physics, biology or chemistry that includes courses in forensic science, crime scene processing, criminal justice and law enforcement. A program may include an apprenticeship or internship so you can gain practical experience. You generally receive on-the-job training when first hired.

Useful Skills

Employers look for competencies in the basic skills of the job, like collecting and packaging evidence, sketching a crime scene, taking crime photographs, keeping a record, writing a report and honing processing skills. Other areas key to the profession include photography, toxicology, DNA, blood spatter, chemistry, determination of firearm distance, gunshot residue and laboratory procedures. More advanced skills include bitemark and dental evidence, shoe and tire impressions, laser technology, clandestine labs and bomb investigations.

Job Postings from Real Employers

For both positions (property and records evidence technician and field evidence technician), applicants can be police officers or civilians. Police departments, cities or agencies, such as the FBI, advertise for evidence technicians. The following sample postings were jobs opened in April 2012.

  • A police department in Ohio advertised for a police property and evidence technician to release, store, receipt and control property and evidence. Candidates needed computer and recordkeeping skills, along with familiarity of police procedure for evidence handling.
  • A police department in Virginia was seeking a police property and evidence technician to dispose, transport, maintain and store evidence and property. Candidate must have a high school diploma and experience.
  • The FBI in Virginia was looking for an evidence technician to oversee the disposition, retention and receipt of evidence for its field office in Washington.
  • A city government in California advertised for a field evidence tech to collect the physical evidence of crime scenes. The tech would process, preserve, collect and identify evidence, write reports and testify in court. Candidates must have experience in law enforcement and at least a 12th grade education.
  • A police department in Michigan was looking for an evidence technician to collect and preserve evidence. Job duties include fingerprinting, reports and records preparation, computer mapping and crime scene documentation.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Get Certified

For field evidence technicians, the International Association for Identification (www.theiai.org) offers various certifications that can help you stand apart from competitors in the job market. Certifications offered include bloodstain pattern examiner, crime scene, footwear, forensic photography, latent print and tenprint fingerprint certifications. Since each certification has educational, examination, training and experience requirements, obtaining an IAI certification assures potential employers that you're knowledgeable and well-qualified for work in the field.

According to the Professional Business Solutions, Inc (www.epbsi.com), there is an increasing need for forensic professionals who are qualified to collect evidence in clandestine labs, which include drug and explosives laboratories. Taking a training course and/or obtaining certification in this area can help make you a desirable job candidate who can help fill the gap in training that many agencies face when called to these scenes, according to the PBSI.

Additional Certification

The International Association for Property and Evidence, Inc. (IAPE) offers two certifications: Certified Property and Evidence Specialist for personnel in law enforcement and Corporate Certified Property and Evidence Specialist for individuals working for corporations or in the private sector. Obtaining one of these certifications shows employers that you're a specialist in the field with the dedication to go above and beyond the standard training requirements.

Other Careers to Consider

If you would like to stay in the field of investigation but don't want to work for a police agency, consider becoming a private detective or investigator. For this career, you need a high school diploma and, in some cases, college courses. You generally receive on-the-job training. In addition, you can specialize as a computer forensic, legal or financial investigator. According to the BLS, private detectives and investigators made a median salary of about $44,000 as of 2011. The BLS anticipated that the employment for private detectives and investigators would increase by 21% in the 2010-2020 decade.

Perhaps you want to continue to work in the field, but don't want to spend a lot of time in crime scenes. Environmental science and protection technicians work in the field collecting samples of soil, water and/or air, as well as setting up monitoring equipment. To become this type of technician, you need an associate's degree and on-the-job training. The BLS reported that these technicians made a median salary of about $42,000 as of 2011 and have an anticipated employment increase of 24% from 2010-2020.

Popular Schools

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    1. American InterContinental University

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    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Forensic Science
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Corrections and Case Management
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Generalist
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Homeland Security and Crisis Management
      • Bachelor of Information Technology - Digital Investigation
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
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    2. Keiser University

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    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Criminal Justice
      • B.A. - Homeland Security
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
      • Associate of Arts - Homeland Security
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    3. Northcentral University

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      • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
      • PhD in Business Admin - Criminal Justice
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      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Criminal Justice
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    4. Penn Foster High School

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      • HS Diploma
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    5. Colorado Technical University

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      • Doctor - Management - Criminal Justice
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    Bachelor's
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    6. Herzing University

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    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Project Management and Public Safety Leadership
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    7. University of the Southwest

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    Master's
      • MBA - Law Enforcement & Corrections
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    8. Grand Canyon University

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      • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
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      • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity
  • Towson, MD

    Towson University

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    Michigan State University

Featured Schools

American InterContinental University

  • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Forensic Science
  • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice

Are you a US citizen?

Keiser University

  • B.A. - Criminal Justice
  • B.A. - Homeland Security
  • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts - Homeland Security

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • PhD in Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Criminal Justice
  • MBA - Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

What is your age?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor - Management - Criminal Justice
  • M.S. - Criminal Justice
  • BS - Criminal Justice

Are you a US citizen?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Project Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

University of the Southwest

  • MBA - Law Enforcement & Corrections

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
  • Master of Science in Cyber Security
  • Bachelor: Public Safety and Emergency Management
  • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity

What is your highest level of education?