How to Become a Latent Fingerprint Examiner

By Theresa Bruno; Updated July 05, 2017
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finger print match. image by Kevin Chesson from Fotolia.com

Latent finger print examiners play a vital role in the fight against crime. By analyzing finger prints left at a crime scene, examiners can determine guilt or innocence. Until recently, the FBI and other government organizations only required a high school diploma and extensive on-the-job training for latent finger print examiners, according to Forensic Science Communications. Realizing the need for better trained examiners has lead government organizations to establish more rigorous training and educational guidelines for latent finger print examiners.

Obtain a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry or forensic science. While some laboratories may only require an associate's degree, an increasing number of laboratories and government agencies will require science backgrounds in the future, according to "Latent Prints: A Perspective on the State of the Science."

Attend a latent finger print examiner program. Sheriff's and police departments, crime laboratories and some technical colleges offer training in latent finger print examination. Training can last from two weeks to two years and covers identifying features of finger prints, analyzing data, maintaining the integrity of finger prints, and testifying in a court room.

Become a certified latent print examiner (CLPE), which is administered by the International Association of Identification (IAI). While not required by all employers, the IAI certification gives finger print examiners more creditability. Besides a bachelor's degree and two year's work experience, applicants must pass all three parts of IAI's Latent Finger Print Exam to earn the certification.

Take continuing education classes. Every five years, CLPEs must accumulate 80 hours of continuing education credits and pass a finger print exam. Failure to identify even one latent print results in a one year suspension.

About the Author

Theresa Bruno began her writing career as a librarian in 2008. She published an article in "Indiana Libraries" and has written many book reviews for "American Reference Book Annual" and "Reference and User Services Quarterly." Before becoming a writer, Bruno received a bachelor's degree in history/religious studies from Butler University and taught American history at Ivy Tech Community College.