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A forensic examiner obtains and analyzes evidence from a crime scene. He uses his specialization in forensics to better understand a crime scene or to find a perpetrator. Forensic examiners can be certified in a number of specialties. Certification, which is voluntary, may lead to a greater level of expertise, higher salary and better chance of promotion. Some specialties also require a license.
The Forensics Specialties Accreditation Board, or FSAB, accredits forensic certification programs. The board ensures that forensics certification programs provide all of the necessary training to equip forensic examiners to work in their specialties. Make sure any certification you obtain is accredited to guard against being taken in by a scam organization. The FSAB has accredited 16 organizations, as of 2013.
A computer forensic examiner analyzes digital media, such as a computer's files or hard drive, to recover lost data and look for clues about a crime or a perpetrator's motives. A computer forensics certification program teaches examiners techniques such as handling evidence for trial. It also tests the examiner's skill handling an independent project or through an examination.
Crime Scene Forensics
Several types of certifications can help forensic examiners who work on crime scenes. Each program trains examiners on specialized techniques and concludes with an examination. For example, some states offer sexual assault forensic certification. These programs train examiners to ensure that victims receive prompt care. A forensic anthropologist certification teaches techniques for using human skeletons to solve crimes. A forensic toxicologist certification teaches examiners how to use technology to measure alcohol, drugs and other substance levels, and interpret them for use in court. A bloodstain pattern certification helps an examiner develop methods for looking at bloodstains and determining how far a victim fell, the speed and direction of travel, and the blunt force impact.
Forensic examiners may choose to be certified in other specialty fields. A certification in forensic psychology enables an examiner to determine a person's competency to stand trial, provide therapeutic treatment and conduct tests. A document examiner studies forgeries, alterations and makes identifications. Other fields include forensic photography, forensic art and forensic fingerprint identification.
Getting a certification in a field of forensics is not the same as having legal permission to work in that field. Some areas of forensics work require a separate license. For example, some states require that computer forensic examiners also have private investigator licenses. Check with state laws to see whether you must meet additional requirements to practice in your specialization.
- Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board:Welcome to the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board
- International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists: Certification
- American College of Forensic Examiners Institute: What is Certification?
- New York State Department of Health: Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Program
- American Board of Forensic Anthropology: What is Forensic Anthropology?
- American Board of Forensic Toxicology
- International Association for Identification: Bloodstain Pattern Examiner Certification Requirements
- Board of Forensic Document Examiners
- Michigan Civil Service Commission: Forensic Psychologist
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.