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Forensic Laboratory Analyst

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

Also Known As

Analytical Technician / Chemist / Scientist, Biological Sciences Technician / Technologist, Biological Scientist, Crime Laboratory Analyst, Forensic Chemist / Biologist / Toxicologist, 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

  • 2211.1: Chemical Technologists

2006 NOC-S

  • C111: Chemical Technologists and Technicians

2011 NOC

  • 2211: Chemical technologists and technicians

2016 NOC

  • 2211: Chemical technologists and technicians

2021 NOC

  • 22100: Chemical technologists and technicians

2023 OaSIS

  • 22100.01: Chemical technologists
Duties
Updated Mar 23, 2023

Forensic laboratory analysts examine physical evidence to:

  • Locate and identify trace evidence
  • Determine whether evidence can identify or exclude a suspect
  • Decide whether evidence will influence the direction of an investigation

Their duties vary depending on their areas of expertise:

  • Analysts in the biology section identify biological materials (such as blood, skin, and hair), develop DNA typing profiles, and maintain DNA data banks
  • Analysts in the trace evidence section recover non-biological trace evidence on clothing or in samples from crime scenes, and identify 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. They also 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 check the authenticity of bank notes, traveller’s cheques, and other negotiable instruments. They also analyze handwritten and machine-produced documents to decipher altered or obliterated text or data, or determine authorship, age, or source
  • Analysts in the toxicology section analyze bodily fluids such as blood and urine for alcohol and other substances. They identify and quantify drugs and poisons in biological fluids and tissues, analyze suspicious powders and food, and interpret the pharmacological effects of a drug or combination of drugs on an individua
  • Analysts in chemistry – fire and explosion section analyze site samples to determine causes of fires or materials used in improvised explosive devices (IEDs), from samples collected from a suspected arson or explosion crime scene

Forensic laboratory analysts work as either scientists or technologists. In general, scientists in all sections:

  • Calibrate instruments and run controls to ensure instruments are in the right condition to run an analysis
  • Plan and supervise experiments, tests, and analyses
  • Apply techniques such as gas and high-performance liquid chromatography, scanning electron microscopy, mass spectrometry, infrared spectroscopy, and genetic fingerprinting
  • Interpret results
  • Advise others in law enforcement
  • Prepare written reports
  • Update databases
  • Develop new analytical methods
  • Validate new methods
  • Optimize methods as required for analysis
  • 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 and take part in in-house research. They also:

  • Generate test results and analyze preliminary findings
  • Set up, operate, and maintain instrumentation
  • Install new hardware and use computer applications for controlling instruments, handling samples, and interpreting data
  • Validate new procedures
  • Train staff members and others
  • Maintain the laboratory’s inventory of supplies and equipment
  • Testify in criminal court cases regarding laboratory procedures and methods

Forensic laboratory analysts receive and analyze materials from crime scenes. They present and discuss the results with police investigators, lawyers, and medical practitioners.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 23, 2023
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Forensic laboratory analysts often work in teams. Sometimes, they perform part of an analysis before passing a case to another analyst. They may need to work overtime when there are high volumes of work. Specialists may travel to testify in criminal proceedings and other hearings.

Analysts who work for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) may be transferred to other lab locations and must be prepared to travel.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Chemical Technologists

2006 NOC: 2211.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 23, 2023

Forensic laboratory analysts need:

  • Integrity
  • No criminal record
  • Communication skills (for example, the ability to provide courtroom testimony and explain possibly complex concepts in plain language)
  • Attention to detail
  • Clear thinking (such as when undergoing cross-examination)
  • 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
  • A logical, factual, and methodical approach to problem solving
  • Persistence and an enquiring mind
  • Good colour vision

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

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Chemical technologists and technicians

2016 NOC: 2211

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 49 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 18, 2021 and Apr 15, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Attention to detail
Health benefits: Health care plan
Health benefits: Dental plan
Construction Specialization: Organized
Other benefits: Free parking available
Tasks: Compile records and interpret experimental or analytical results
Tasks: MS Office
Tasks: Assist in developing and conducting sampling and analysis
Tasks: Assist in set up and conduction of chemical experiments
Tasks: Compile records for analytical studies
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 23, 2023
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary

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 more specific qualifications. These may include an honours bachelor of science degree, or in some cases a graduate degree (M.Sc. or Ph.D.). This may be in a field such as forensic science, biology, biochemistry, biomedical science, chemistry, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, pharmacology, or population genetics and statistics.

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.

Outside of Alberta, a variety of schools across Canada offer programs related to forensic sciences. The Canadian Society of Forensic Science (CSFS) maintains a listing of programs.

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.

Professional development varies depending on employer and area of specialty. However, there is usually a program of on-the-job training and development involving short courses and practical case work. Areas covered may include laboratory skills and proficiency tests, blood pattern analysis, and statement writing. Course may also include training in health and safety, courtroom and presentation skills, and project management.

The changing nature of forensic science means that it’s vital to keep up to date with the latest research and developments. CSFS provides continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities such as conferences, seminars, lectures, and workshops. External providers may offer additional approved CPD on topics such as recognizing, excavating, and recording hidden graves, and human skeletal anatomy.

A masters or Ph.D. in forensic science or in a forensic specialty such as archaeology or anthropology may be helpful for certain specific cases.


Related Education

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

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 23, 2023
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 23, 2023

Forensic laboratory analysts work for:

  • The RCMP (in Edmonton, Ottawa, and Vancouver)
  • 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. It also performs toxicological work in cases where no foul play is suspected.

The RCMP is responsible for most other forensic laboratory work in criminal cases (except in Ontario and Quebec, which have their own provincial police forces and laboratories).

Environmental and some arson-related forensic work in Alberta is performed by various small private laboratories.

Advancement usually takes the form of scheduled pay increases and increased responsibility for one or more types of analysis. Further training is typically required in order to advance. Experienced forensic laboratory analysts may be promoted to supervisory positions.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2211: Chemical technologists and technicians occupational group, 80.6% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 2211: Chemical technologists and technicians occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.8% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 39 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 23, 2023

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Chemical technologists and technicians

2016 NOC: 2211
Average Wage
$42.15
Per Hour
Average Salary
$81,510.00
Per Year
Average Hours
37.6
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2211 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $18.50 $50.24 $34.14 $35.90
Overall $20.52 $63.59 $42.15 $41.28
Top $21.08 $86.31 $46.60 $43.73

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

ALL INDUSTRIES
Manufacturing
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
19%
19%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
5%
5%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
0%
0%
Vacancy Rate
N/A
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 23, 2023

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: technologyalberta.com

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

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 23, 2023. 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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