Criminalist : Criminalistics Degree

The fascinating world of forensic sciences can also be confusing when it comes to the various roles and specializations. A Criminalist is someone who has training in what is known as criminalistics. Criminalistics is the application of scientific analysis to forensics and investigative work. Criminalists use chemistry, physics, and mechanical sciences to analyze and interpret trace evidence such as fabrics, paint, dust, gasses, hair, sweat, or blood stains. Criminalists spend their time analyzing, classifying, and interpreting evidence and preparing their findings for use in a court of law.

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What’s the difference between a criminalist and a criminologist?


It is important to distinguish a criminalist from a criminologist. A criminologist studies the social behavior of criminals and criminal activity, while a criminalist is a forensic science worker who analyzes evidence using scientific methods. Because the two terms appear so much alike, there is often confusion about the differences

How to Become a Criminalist

Criminalists must, at a minimum have completed a bachelors degree specifically in criminalistics, a forensic science degree, or some combination of evidence examination with the sciences. Some choose to start by completing a crime scene investigation program, then continue their education while gaining relevant experience on the job. While there is no requirement to become certified, it may be advantageous to become certified through the American Board of Criminalistics. Certification is a way to indicate to potential employers that you have sufficient education and skills to perform the job well.

Criminalist Job Description

Typical jobs tasks for a criminalist include but are not limited to:

  • Analysis of evidence and/or convicted offender DNA samples.
  • Histological analysis of human bone
  • Assist in the anthropological preparation and examination of human remains
  • Support laboratory quality control functions such as preventive maintenance and calibration of laboratory equipment
  • Conduct crime scene investigations to discover and develop evidence
  • Perform laboratory analysis on evidence related to police investigations
  • Write reports summarizing analysis findings
  • Attend and participate in staff meetings and other training activities, testify in court
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Criminalist Salary

According to PayScale, on average entry level criminalists can earn between $36,063 & $64,735. Experienced criminalists can earn over $95,000 per year.

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