The application of science to civil and criminal law is known as Forensic Science. As a subset of forensic experts in the field of forensic science, fingerprint examiners have significant professions. They assist with criminal investigations and court proceedings using highly specialized knowledge and contemporary technologies. In this post, we go over what a fingerprint examiner is, what it does, how to become one, the necessary skills, the working environment, income, and future employment prospects for a fingerprint examiner.
Who is a fingerprint Examiner?
A fingerprint examiner is an expert member of law enforcement who uses fingerprints in the process of investigations. examine, catalog, and assess fingerprints as part of a crime scene investigation. They are knowledgeable about forensic sciences, crime lab procedures, and methodologies used in criminal investigations. Governmental organizations or law enforcement organizations frequently employ fingerprint Examiners/Analysts. The gathering of evidence from crime scenes and morgues, as well as expert witness testimony in courtrooms during criminal or civil trials, is a typical practice for fingerprint examiner analysts.
Additional names used by fingerprint examiner include:
- Latent print investigator
- Analyzer for latent fingerprints
- Examiner of fingerprints
- Fingerprint Analysts
Also Read: Fingerprint Databases In India
What does a Fingerprint Examiner do?
To locate and obtain fingerprint samples and match them to known impressions in regional or global fingerprint databases, fingerprint analysts make use of a wide range of contemporary technology. They gather and store latent fingerprints, also known as hidden or concealed fingerprints, and either examine them scientifically or save them as evidence. To improve and examine fingerprints, fingerprint analysts employ several computers, photographs, and laboratory tools in addition to their laboratory bench skills, scientific knowledge, and expertise. Additionally, they are highly skilled at scanning, entering, searching for, and contrasting records in fingerprint database systems.
A fingerprint examiner/analyst’s tasks and duties may include:
- Analyzing fingerprint, palm print, or footprint samples
- Using a computer and photographic equipment to improve prints
- Latent print identification and labeling
- Comparing known impressions to latent prints to confirm their identity
- Creating thorough reports on testing and their findings
- Searching crime scenes and collecting fingerprints
- Securing fingerprint samples for lab analysis
- Importing fingerprint images into regional or global databases
What skills are needed for a Fingerprint Examiner?
To succeed in this line of work, you must be accurate and productive in a lab environment. The following are the abilities a fingerprint specialist needs:
- Effective verbal and written communication skills are essential for fingerprint examiners or analysts.
- Strong attention to detail. You need to pay close attention to every detail when examining prints.
- Strong deductive reasoning and problem-solving abilities are needed for matching and comparing prints.
- Patience is a necessary skill because the data-entering portion of the job can occasionally become monotonous.
- Computer literacy- To execute duties, fingerprint experts employ sophisticated computer software and applications.
- Strong organizing abilities are necessary for laboratory work.
How to Become a Fingerprint Examiner?
Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in forensic science or another applied discipline with a concentration on fingerprint analysis is the most frequent route to becoming a fingerprint analyst, though there may be a few other options as well. Courses in criminal justice, biological sciences, chemistry, math, biological principles, genetics, criminalistics, physics, and math should all be required for students.
Some bachelor’s degree courses that individuals interested in working as fingerprint analyzers sometimes take include:
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
- Bachelor of Arts in Social and Criminal Justice – Forensics
- Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice – Forensics
In India M.Sc. Degree in any Science Subject or M.Sc. in Forensic Science; or B.Sc. degree in Chemistry as one of the subjects from a recognized University is generally asked for by government employers.
Employers have different standards for fingerprint analysts. A criminal justice master’s degree could be required by some employers. Additionally, some businesses can demand that their fingerprint examiners complete the FBI or DOJ Basic and Advanced fingerprinting courses. The following are some of the courses that may be helpful toward certification.
- Comparing and Classifying Fingerprints for Tenprint Examiners
- Data to Support the Fingerprints
- FBI Fingerprint Examiner Training Program Scientific Basics of Fingerprints – Classifying, Recording, and Comparing Scientific Basics of Fingerprints – Recording
Fingerprint analysts must have a good background in the operation of the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System in addition to having the necessary training and work experience (IAFIS). The IAFI, a federal, state, and local law enforcement agency-run national fingerprint system helps them by applying several fingerprint analysis techniques, such as:
- Ability to search for fingerprints automatically
- Fingerprints are exchanged electronically
- Digital image storage
- The capacity of latent search
To stay up to date on all the most cutting-edge technologies in this industry, fingerprint analysts may need to take continuing education classes. Continuous education programs are also required to become certified and keep up. These two credentials are available from the International Association for Identification, and they require passing an exam that is taken by the organization.
Fingerprint Examiner Workplace Environment
A fingerprint analyst often puts in 40 hours per week during regular business hours during the day. When there are pressing crime scene investigations or deadlines to meet, they might need to work on the weekends or in the evenings. The most typical workplaces for fingerprint analysts are a lab setting, the field at crime scenes, or a combination of the two. Some jobs for fingerprint analyzers could include travel. When working in the field, fingerprint examiners may need to put on protective clothing to avoid exposure to toxins, contagious diseases, or dangerous situations.
To get fingerprint samples and compare them to others in fingerprint databases, fingerprint researchers employ a variety of technologies. Despite spending most of their time in the lab, they may also be required to work in the field to gather evidence and fingerprints. They might also spend a lot of time analyzing fingerprint cards and looking for matches in the lines and swirls while seated at a desk for extended periods.
At a crime scene, police or crime scene investigators may remove and save the fingerprints. They then transport it to the lab where the fingerprint analyst compares it to other samples known to belong to that person.
Typically, forensic fingerprint analyzers work for government institutions like law enforcement agencies. They send written reports to the detectives or the court as evidence in a court case. The fingerprint analyst’s responsibilities as part of their work include:
- Getting evidence by going to crime scenes or the morgue
- gathering evidence and preserving it by putting it in containers
- Using and maintaining the tools and equipment in the lab
- Examining the reports of forensic analysts
- Obtaining fingerprints by gathering dust impressions
- Providing expert witness testimony in court matters
The job outlook for a Fingerprint Examiner
For information about the future of work, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a reliable and comprehensive source. Although the BLS does not expressly list data for fingerprint analysts, it does list data for forensic science experts, a group that includes jobs similar to fingerprint examiner/expert and works in the same sector. Forensic science experts should anticipate an employment growth rate of 14% from 2019 to 2029, according to the BLS. This growth rate exceeds the average growth rate for all occupations by a wide margin.
Salary of a Fingerprint Examiner
The salary paid to a fingerprint analyst varies depending on their level of education, experience, region, industry, and demand in the job market. Despite having comparable duties and responsibilities, fingerprint analysts may have different titles in various firms and industries, as is the case with many vocations. Forensic experts in the US make an average of $36,750 per year, while crime analysts make an average of $58,952 per year.
How do I become a latent print Examiner?
A latent print examiner is different from a fingerprint examiner. Latent Print Examiners examine unidentified prints gathered from crime scenes to ascertain if they originated from a known suspect or an unidentified suspect.
The approximate translation of the word “latent” is “invisible to the naked eye.” When you touch anything with your fingers, latent fingerprints are left behind. Since you cannot see them, they must be improved and developed to be useful. The fingerprint is covered in black powder to make it noticeable. These visible fingerprints are used by latent print examiners to establish the identification of the fingerprint owner.
Given that their responsibilities are significantly more intricate and specialized, latent print examiners often make more money than fingerprint examiners. Latent Print Examiners will also provide testimony in court regarding their assessment of whether a suspect’s fingerprints match another person’s.
In a law enforcement agency’s crime lab, latent print examiners spend the majority of their time. Even though some Examiners capture fingerprints outside, this is not typical. For information on employment openings and the qualifications and education needed, contact your local law enforcement. A four-year bachelor’s degree in physical science, such as Chemistry, Biology, Microbiology, or Forensics, is required for qualification as a Latent Print Examiner. Even though you do not require a four-year degree, some employers will still hire you if you have work experience as a fingerprint expert or latent print examiner.
Latent Print Certification
For this, you need a bachelor’s degree, two years of full-time experience detecting and comparing latent print materials, and 80 hours of instruction in latent print concerns that have been authorized by the certification board. The applicant must have three years of experience even if they only have an associate’s degree.
Ten print Examiner Certification
A minimum of an associate’s degree or 60 college credits is required for this, along with two years of full-time experience filing, recording, classifying, and searching ten prints, 40 hours of board-approved continuing education courses in these areas, and 16 hours of board-approved training in court testimony.
The International Association for Identification also offers the following certifications:
- Bloodstain Design
- incident scene
- forensic photography and imaging for footwear
- Criminal Video