Analysts in crime labs are specialists in their disciplines, and they need extra hands whenever they can get them. The work of a crime lab assistant is varied and almost entirely dependent on the work of the scientists and technicians they help. Assistants may be employed by hospital morgues, state law enforcement, federal government agencies, and more; wherever there is forensics work to be done, there are assistants there to ensure that it gets done well and quickly. It's important to find the right part of a crime lab that corresponds best to your skills and interests; a toxicologist's assistant will do very different work than a forensic pathologist's. Hours and responsibilities vary between roles, as does exposure to the more grim elements of forensics.
Crime lab assistant work may include...
- Safely following lab procedures
- Maintaining lab equipment
- Shadowing technicians
- Preparing samples and tests
- Analyzing data
Some crime lab assistant jobs are entry level training roles that aspiring criminologists can use to gain experience in their chosen discipline. Since criminal lab work has so many specific procedures, it's extremely beneficial for lab assistants to see them in action and get used to the workload. Many assistants eventually become lab technicians, supervisors, or scientists and train assistants of their own.
Lab assistants typically possess a Bachelor's degree in some type of science like forensics, biology, or chemistry, depending on the work they're looking to do. Applied laboratory experience is essential; additional coursework in a foundational field like anatomy or data analysis is good to have, too.
If lab work interests you, becoming a crime lab analysis assistant can kick off a rewarding career in forensic sciences.