As the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) notes:

In recent years, the demand for forensic scientists has increased for many reasons, including population demographics, increased awareness of forensic science by law enforcement, increased numbers of law enforcement officers, database automation in several categories of physical evidence, jury expectations, legal requirements, accreditation and certification requirements of laboratories and personnel, impending retirement of a large number of currently practicing forensic scientists, and increased public awareness of forensic science through the popular media.3

One manifestation of the need for more examiners is the backlog of requests for forensic services at crime laboratories. As noted in previous chapters of this report (based on the 2005 Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories), many forensic laboratories experience large backlogs in requests for forensic services. To achieve a 30-day turnaround on all 2005 requests, the different forensic science disciplines would have needed varying increases in the number of full-time examiners performing that work—ranging from an estimated 73 percent increase in DNA examiners to an estimated 6 percent increase in examiners conducting toxicology analysis.4

The most recent Occupational Outlook Handbook, prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor, found that job growth for forensic science technicians will grow much faster than average, with 13,000 jobs available in 2006 and a projected 31 percent rise, or 17,000 jobs, projected by 2016.5 Yet one analyst argued that “existing science programs overproduce graduates relative to the actual labor market” in criminalistics.6 Having an accurate picture of demand—as well as the capacity of employers to absorb new forensic science professionals—is important for colleges and universities that are educating and training the future workforce. Additional information on such factors as retirement and attrition rates and on trends in funding for laboratory personnel could assist educational providers in obtaining a more accurate picture of future employment prospects for their students.

The micro level focuses on the skills that individuals need to gain


Ibid., p. 3.


M.R. Durose. 2008. Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2005. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Available at


Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor. “Science Technicians.” In: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 edition. Available at


R.E. Gaensslen. 2003. How do I become a forensic scientist? Educational pathways to forensic science careers. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 376:1151-1155.

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