How to Become a Fingerprint Examiner


Fingerprint examiners collect, process, study and match fingerprints found at crime scenes to potential victims, witnesses or perpetrators. They work at crime labs, police departments and government agencies. There is no one standard career path or national credentialing process to become a fingerprint examiner. The training and education you need will depend on the type of agency you'd like to work for and the state you live in. However, you can get voluntary certifications through forensic science organization the International Association for Identification.

  • Attend an associate's or bachelor's degree program in law enforcement, political science, criminal justice or forensic science. You do not need to have a college degree to become certified; however, degrees are often required for jobs in the industry.

  • Complete an internship with a law enforcement agency or crime lab in which you shadow a fingerprint examiner and perform some of the basic job functions.

  • Take courses in fingerprint analysis. If your school doesn't offer them, take the training courses from the International Association for Identification in addition to doing your school work.

  • Apply to work for an agency that offers job training in fingerprint examination. Many labs require you to examine fingerprints as part of your job functions, which is where college experience in forensics comes in handy. You must have job experience to become certified.

  • Become a certified latent print examiner through the International Association for Identification. This certification is voluntary, but it gives you credentials and establishes you as an expert in the field. To qualify, you must have a bachelor's degree and two years of full-time experience, an associate's degree plus three years of full-time experience, or no degree and four years of experience working directly with fingerprints.

  • Attend continuing education courses to learn new techniques and keep up on trends in the industry.

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