Crime Lab Assistants play a key role in collecting, analyzing and testing crime scene evidence such as weapons, fingerprints, and bodily fluids and tissues. Their responsibilities include assisting during searching of evidences from a crime scene, keeping all the evidences safely, maintaining laboratory equipment, helping in lab test such as DNA or finger prints analysis, maintaining detailed records of research findings, providing testimony in court regarding crime evidence etc. They also collaborate with various experts, including medical professionals, ballistic experts and handwriting analysts to help solve crimes.
Crime Lab Assistants work in various government departments such as police department, crime laboratories, morgues etc. They are also employed in private laboratories, research facilities, educational institutions including colleges and universities. They may work overtime and variable hours including night, weekend and holiday work as required. They may also be called back for crime scene investigations after normal working hours. However, they have to follow safety procedures and protocol in the collection of crime scene evidence.
To become a Crime Lab Assistant, the aspiring candidates need to earn a bachelor’s degree in forensic science or a similar natural science such as biology, biochemistry or chemistry, which takes four years to complete. The coursework includes mathematics, biology, toxicology, analytical chemistry, physics, forensic sciences, quality control in assessment, phlebotomy and inventory management etc. However, most of the employers prefer the job aspirants with some experience in crime scene investigations for this position.
Licensure and Certification
Since a Crime Lab Assistant requires to be licensed in most of the states, the aspiring candidates need to pass the examination. These professionals can obtain exam based certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or the American Association of Bioanalysts (ABB).
Crime Lab Assistants possess various skills such as high level of attention to detail; ability to manage a large workload and meet specified deadlines; ability to manage sensitive and confidential data and crime evidences; excellent oral and written communication skills; good reasoning and mechanical abilities; ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with other employees, staff and the public; computer skills etc.
Job Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for a Crime Lab Assistant remains excellent across the USA. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for job opportunities in this profession may rise 6% from 2012 to 2022. The average annual salary of a Crime Lab Assistant was $54,360, in May 2013.