Become a Fingerprint Analyst: Requirements, Job Description & Salary

Fingerprint analysts work in a crime lab examining fingerprints in order to identify suspects in a crime or to bring justice to those who are wrongly accused. Read on to learn about the role, requirements and salary to see if this could be the right career for you. Schools offering Forensic Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career at a Glance

When your fingers make contact with any solid surface including a human body, it will likely leave behind a fingerprint. A fingerprint analyst goes to crime scenes to collect fingerprint evidence and takes it to a crime lab to be analyzed. Analyzing fingerprints requires excellent concentration. The table below provides an overview of this career including the education, skill requirements, salary and job outlook.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree preferred
Education Field of Study Forensic Science
Criminal Justice
Certification and Licensure Certification preferred
Key Skills Concentration, pattern recognition, analytical, attention to detail, communication skills, problem-solving skills
Median Salary (2019) $63,682 (Forensic analysts)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 17% (Forensic science technicians)**

Sources: *Payscale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Does a Fingerprint Analyst Do?

A fingerprint analyst will focus on minute details such as the shape and depth of ridges (the curved lines in a fingerprint), the length of the ridges and the general shape of the fingerprint to determine whether the fingerprint matches with that of a suspect. A second analyst will also examine the fingerprint and either agree to a positive match or disagree. Fingerprint analysts typically spend most of their time in crime labs. The primary duties of a fingerprint analyst include collecting and labeling fingerprints from a crime scene, preserving samples, analyzing prints, writing up reports of findings and giving testimony as an expert witness.

How Do I Become a Fingerprint Analyst?

Fingerprint analysts are typically required to have a bachelor's degree in forensic science, criminal justice or an applied science field, taking courses in forensics and fingerprint analysis. Employers may hire a fingerprint analyst with a high school diploma if the applicant has significant experience analyzing fingerprints. Some employers may request certification in fingerprint courses. An International Association for Identification (IAI) certification will also improve employability. If you would like to work as a fingerprint analyst for any government agency, you will likely be required to pass a security clearance.

What Skills and Attributes Do I Need to Become a Fingerprint Analyst?

In order to be a successful fingerprint analyst you will need to demonstrate excellent pattern recognition ability to assess fingerprint patterns. You will need to demonstrate good accuracy and attention to detail as you are analyzing crucial evidence where mistakes can cause grave consequences. A fingerprint analyst will need to have good problem-solving skills to help crime agencies tackle crime. Verbal and written communication is important for presenting detailed findings in reports and also to provide reliable testimony in court.

How Much Do Fingerprint Analysts Earn?

According to Payscale.com, forensic analysts, which include fingerprint analysts, made a median salary of $63,682 annually as of March 2019. In comparison the BLS reported that in May 2017 the median annual salary of forensic science technicians was $57,850, with those working in testing labs earning a median wage of $62,130 a year, which correlates with Payscale.com's report on national salary.

What Is the Job Outlook and Related Career Fields for Fingerprint Analysts?

The BLS anticipates that job openings for forensic science technicians, including fingerprint analysts, will realize a 17% increase between 2016 and 2026. This is far greater than the national average increase of 7% for all occupations. It is expected that state governments will be required to hire more workforce in the field to deal with the high case load. If you're interested in a career as a fingerprint analyst, you may also want to research similar occupations, such as forensic biologists, forensic chemists, forensic computer examiners, police, detectives and biological and chemical technicians.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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