Career Development

What Does a Crime Lab Analyst Do?

Find out what a crime lab analyst does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a crime lab analyst.

Crime lab analysts are responsible for analyzing evidence from crime scenes in order to help law enforcement agencies solve cases. They commonly use a variety of scientific techniques and equipment to determine what happened at the scene, how it happened, and who was involved.

Crime lab analysts may also be tasked with maintaining and updating the equipment used by their department or agency. This includes everything from ensuring that all of the equipment is properly calibrated to purchasing new equipment as needed.

Crime Lab Analyst Job Duties

Crime lab analysts typically have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Collecting physical evidence from crime scenes including blood, fibers, fingerprints, and DNA samples
  • Reviewing autopsy reports and police reports for information about how the crime was committed
  • Analyzing DNA evidence from blood, semen, hair follicles, or other biological samples to identify suspects in criminal cases
  • Conducting tests on physical evidence such as gunshot residues, fingerprints, DNA samples, and narcotics to determine their origin
  • Writing detailed reports about test results and conclusions based on findings
  • Interviewing witnesses and suspects to obtain information about crimes that have been committed
  • Examining evidence such as fingerprints, firearms, drugs, DNA samples, or footprints for clues about suspects’ identities
  • Collecting and analyzing physical evidence using chemical processes such as chromatography and mass spectrometry
  • Observing the behavior of suspects in court cases to help determine their credibility

Crime Lab Analyst Salary & Outlook

Crime lab analysts’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location.

  • Median Annual Salary: $58,000 ($27.88/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $100,000 ($48.08/hour)

The employment of crime lab analysts is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

Crime labs will need to hire more analysts to handle an increasing workload as law enforcement agencies across the country continue to use forensic science to solve crimes. In addition, the use of new technologies and techniques in crime labs will require more analysts to provide support.

Crime Lab Analyst Job Requirements

Crime lab analysts typically need to have the following background:

Education: Crime lab analysts need at least a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, criminal justice or a related field. These programs typically include courses in biology, chemistry, criminal law and criminalistics.

Many crime lab analysts choose to pursue a master’s degree in forensic science or criminal justice. Earning a master’s degree can increase your earning potential and qualify you for more senior positions.

Training & Experience: Many crime labs have their own training programs to help analysts learn the specific procedures and practices of the lab. Training programs may include on-the-job training, internships or formal courses. Some crime labs may require analysts to have a bachelor’s degree, while others may accept a high school diploma or GED.

Certifications & Licenses: Crime lab analysts need certification to work in their field. Candidates can choose between two certifications: the International Association for Identification Certified Crime Scene Analyst and the International Society of Forensic Criminologists Certified Crime Scene Analyst certifications.

Crime Lab Analyst Skills

Crime lab analysts need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: The ability to use technology and software is an important skill for a crime lab analyst. They use a variety of software programs to analyze evidence, including programs that help them identify fingerprints, analyze DNA and examine financial records.

Communication skills: As a crime lab analyst, you may be required to present your findings to law enforcement or legal representatives. Effective communication skills can help you convey your message clearly and concisely. You may also need to communicate with other crime lab analysts to share information or collaborate on projects.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is a crucial skill for crime lab analysts. They need to be able to notice small changes in evidence and record them accurately. This skill also helps them identify patterns in evidence and crime data.

Scientific knowledge: A background in science can help you understand the processes and procedures used in forensic analysis. This can help you learn the necessary skills to do the job and understand the results of your work.

Problem-solving: Crime lab analysts use their problem-solving skills to identify and address issues that arise during testing. They also use this skill to troubleshoot equipment and find solutions to technical problems.

Crime Lab Analyst Work Environment

Crime lab analysts work in well-lit, ventilated, and temperature-controlled laboratories. They wear protective clothing, such as gloves, gowns, and masks, when handling dangerous chemicals and evidence. Most crime lab analysts work a regular 40-hour week, but they may be required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays to meet the demands of their job. They may also be on call to respond to crime scenes at any time of the day or night. Crime lab analysts may experience job-related stress from the nature of their work, which can be emotionally demanding. They may also be exposed to hazardous materials and dangerous criminals.

Crime Lab Analyst Trends

Here are three trends influencing how crime lab analysts work. Crime lab analysts will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Crime Labs

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more sophisticated, it is being used in a variety of different industries, including the crime lab. AI can be used to analyze data and make predictions about future events, which can be very useful for law enforcement agencies.

Crime lab analysts who are able to use AI will be highly valued by employers, as they will be able to provide insights that would otherwise be impossible to obtain. Additionally, crime labs that utilize AI will be able to process data faster and more efficiently, which will allow them to better serve their communities.

The Need for More Collaboration Between Law Enforcement and Forensic Analysts

The need for more collaboration between law enforcement and forensic analysts is an emerging trend that is having a significant impact on the criminal justice system. As forensic analysts become more involved in investigations, they are increasingly called upon to provide expert testimony in court.

This trend is likely to continue as forensic analysts develop new methods for analyzing evidence and developing profiles of suspects. In order to be successful in this field, forensic analysts will need to be able to work closely with law enforcement officials and understand their needs.

More Focus on Data Analytics

Data analytics is becoming an increasingly important part of the criminal justice system, as it allows investigators to quickly sift through large amounts of information and find the clues that will lead them to the perpetrator.

As data analytics becomes more prevalent, crime lab analysts will need to learn how to use these tools to their advantage. This includes learning how to collect and organize data, as well as how to interpret its meaning.

How to Become a Crime Lab Analyst

A career as a crime lab analyst can be both rewarding and challenging. It’s important to consider all the aspects of this job before making a decision.

First, you need to make sure that you have the right skills and qualifications for the job. You should have a degree in forensic science or a related field, as well as experience working in a laboratory setting. Additionally, it’s helpful if you have knowledge of different types of evidence and how they are collected and analyzed.

Second, you need to think about where you want to work. There are many different options available, including local, state, and federal agencies; private laboratories; and universities. Each location has its own unique culture and opportunities, so it’s important to find the one that best fits your needs.

Finally, you need to be prepared for the challenges that come with this job. Crime labs deal with sensitive information and materials, so you must be able to keep things confidential. Additionally, there is always pressure to get results quickly, which can be stressful.

Advancement Prospects

Crime lab analysts may advance to supervisory or managerial positions within their lab. Some analysts may also become instructors at crime scene investigation schools or become consultants to law enforcement agencies. Some analysts may eventually open their own private forensic consulting businesses.

Crime Lab Analyst Job Description Example

The [City/State] Police Department is seeking a highly-skilled and motivated crime lab analyst to join our team. The ideal candidate will have experience working in a crime lab and conducting forensic analysis of evidence. He or she will be responsible for processing and analyzing evidence from crime scenes, as well as maintaining the crime lab and equipment. The crime lab analyst will also be responsible for testifying in court as an expert witness, when necessary.

This is an excellent opportunity for a motivated individual to use his or her skills to help solve crimes and bring criminals to justice. If you are interested in this exciting opportunity, please submit your resume and cover letter today.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Perform forensic analysis of evidence collected from crime scenes, including DNA, fingerprints, ballistics, and trace evidence
  • Develop and maintain a working knowledge of current analytical methods and technologies
  • Adhere to strict quality control procedures in order to ensure the validity of results
  • Prepare detailed reports documenting all aspects of the analytical process
  • Testify in court as an expert witness when necessary
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of relevant case law
  • Stay abreast of new developments in the field of forensics through continued education and professional development opportunities
  • Assist in the development and implementation of new laboratory policies and procedures
  • Serve as a resource to less experienced analysts
  • Participate in departmental committees and work groups
  • Perform administrative tasks such as maintaining inventory levels and ordering supplies
  • Keep abreast of advances in technology that may impact the field of forensics

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in forensic science, biology, chemistry, or related field
  • 1-2 years experience working in a crime lab or related environment
  • Experience with standard laboratory equipment and procedures
  • Ability to lift 50 pounds and stand for long periods of time
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in forensic science, biology, chemistry, or related field
  • 3-5 years experience working in a crime lab or related environment
  • Experience with specialized laboratory equipment and procedures
  • Certification from the American Board of Criminalistics
  • Membership in professional organizations, such as the American Academy of Forensic Sciences


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