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Forensic Laboratory Analyst

Forensic laboratory analysts use scientific principles and technology to analyze, identify, compare, classify and interpret physical evidence submitted by police and related agencies.

  • Avg. Salary $62,913.00
  • Avg. Wage $30.64
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 2,300
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Biological Sciences Technician/Technologist, Biological Scientist, Crime Laboratory Analyst, Investigator, Laboratory Technician/Technologist, Physical Sciences Technician/Technologist, Physical Scientist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Chemical Technologists (2211.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Chemical Technologists and Technicians (C111) 
  • 2011 NOC: Chemical technologists and technicians (2211) 
Interest Codes
The Forensic Laboratory Analyst is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Chemical Technologists
OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to operate and maintain laboratory equipment and apparatus, to operate chemical and petrochemical pilot plants, and to conduct air and water quality testing and assessments

INNOVATIVE

Interest in analyzing data to develop and conduct programs of sampling and analysis to maintain quality standards of raw materials, chemical intermediates and products

METHODICAL

Interest in supervising to oversee environmental monitoring and protection activities and compliance with standards; in assisting in the development of chemical engineering processes, standards, procedures and health and safety measures; in assisting in studies of chemical engineering procurement, construction, inspection and maintenance; and in preparing solutions of gas and liquid, reagents and sample formulations

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 22, 2016

Forensic laboratory analysts examine physical evidence to:

  • locate and identify trace evidence for interpretation
  • determine if it can identify or exclude a suspect, or impact the direction of an investigation.

Their duties vary depending on their areas of expertise:

  • Analysts in the biology section identify biological materials (for example, blood, skin and hair) and develop DNA typing profiles
  • Analysts in the trace evidence section recover non-biological trace evidence in clothing or samples from crime scenes to identify them or compare them to other materials
  • Analysts in the firearms section determine whether an ammunition component has been loaded into or fired from a particular firearm, assess the mechanical condition and legal status of firearms, analyze gunshot residue and bullet paths, restore serial numbers and determine whether a tool mark impression was made by a given tool
  • Analysts in the questioned documents section examine bank notes and negotiable instruments, such as traveller's cheques, to establish their authenticity, and analyze handwritten and machine-produced textual evidence to decipher altered or obliterated text or determine authorship, age or source
  • Analysts in the toxicology section analyze body fluids such as blood and urine samples for alcohol and other volatiles, identify and quantify drugs and poisons in biological fluids and tissues, analyze suspicious powders and food that may have been tampered with, and interpret the pharmacological effects of a drug or a combination of drugs on an individual.

Forensic laboratory analysts are employed as scientists or technologists. In general, scientists in all sections:

  • plan and supervise experiments, tests and analyses
  • interpret experimental or analytical results
  • provide advice and expertise to others in the law enforcement field
  • prepare written reports and update databases
  • develop new technologies and validate new techniques
  • train staff members and external clients
  • testify in criminal court cases about the significance of physical evidence.

In general, technologists in all sections:

  • conduct tests and examinations
  • generate and collect test results, and analyze preliminary findings
  • set up, operate and maintain instrumentation, install new hardware and use computer applications for instrument control, handling samples and manipulating data, and validate new procedures
  • train staff members and others
  • maintain the laboratory's inventory of supplies and equipment
  • participate in in-house research projects
  • testify in criminal court cases regarding laboratory procedures and methods.

Forensic laboratory analysts are civilian employees who work primarily in laboratories. Police officers conduct investigations. Forensic laboratory analysts receive and analyze materials from crime scenes, and present and discuss results with police investigators, lawyers and medical practitioners.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 22, 2016

Forensic laboratory analysts often work in teams or perform specific parts of an analysis before passing a case to another analyst. Overtime may be required when there are high volumes of work. Specialists frequently travel to testify in criminal proceedings and other hearings.

Forensic laboratory analysts employed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are subject to transfer to other laboratory locations and must be prepared to travel.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 22, 2016

Forensic laboratory analysts need the following characteristics:

  • good character and no criminal record
  • excellent communication skills, including the ability to provide courtroom testimony in plain language and undergo cross-examination
  • strong attention to detail
  • time management and organizational skills
  • analytical ability and problem solving skills
  • the ability to work independently and as part of a team.

They should enjoy using tools, instruments and equipment to perform tasks requiring precision, analyzing information and solving problems, and supervising the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 22, 2016

The minimum academic requirement for scientists in most of the discipline areas is a 4-year degree in physical, life or forensic sciences. Specific degree and course requirements vary depending on the employer and type of work. For example, some positions require a degree in a chemical or physical science, or mechanical engineering. Other positions require much more specific qualifications (for example, an honours bachelor of science degree in a field such as forensic science, biology, biochemistry, chemistry, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, pharmacology, or population genetics and statistics).

4-year bachelor's degree programs in physical and life sciences are offered by universities and colleges throughout Alberta. Admission requirements vary but generally include a competitive average in English Language Arts 30 and 4 other approved or required subjects (for example, Math 30, Chemistry 30, Biology 30, Physics 30 or Math 31).

The minimum academic requirement for technologists is a post-secondary diploma or degree in physical, life or forensic sciences. Some positions require a 3-year diploma or specific courses.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Outside of Alberta, the following post-secondary schools offer programs directly related to forensic science:

After they are hired, specialists and technologists must complete in-house training programs before doing any casework. Training programs for specialists range in length from 9 months to 2 years or more. Training programs for technologists take up to 18 months to complete.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 22, 2016

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 22, 2016

Forensic laboratory analysts are employed by:

  • the RCMP (in Edmonton, Halifax, Ottawa, Regina, Vancouver and Winnipeg)
  • Canada Revenue Agency (Ottawa)
  • the provincial governments of Ontario (Toronto and Sault St. Marie) and Quebec (Montreal)
  • a small number of private forensic laboratories.

In Alberta, the Medical Examiner's Office is responsible for performing autopsies and does toxicological work in cases where no foul play is suspected. The RCMP does all other forensic laboratory work.

Advancement usually takes the form of pay increases and increased responsibility for one or more types of analysis. Experienced forensic laboratory analysts may be promoted to supervisory positions.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 22, 2016

Forensic laboratory analysts are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2211: Chemical technologists and technicians.

According to the 2017 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Chemical technologists and technicians occupational group earned on average from $21.65 to $44.24 an hour. The overall average was $30.64 an hour. For more information, see the Chemical technologists and technicians wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Computer and Information Technology
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 22, 2016

American Academy of Forensic Sciences website: www.aafs.org

Association of Certified Fraud Examiners website: www.acfe.com

Canadian Society of Forensic Science website: www.csfs.ca

Royal Canadian Mounted Police website, Forensic Science and Identification Services section: www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca

Technology Alberta website: www.albertaict.ca

The Chartered Society of Forensic Science website: www.csofs.org

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 17, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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