Fingerprint Analyst: A Career that Leaves a Print

Fingerprint Analyst

Fingerprint Analyst: A Career that Leaves a Print

Opportunity is substantial in the field of criminal justice as it houses a plethora of interesting career options. Of the many unique criminal justice jobs, a fingerprint analyst is a well sought after position in the forensic science industry. Fingerprint analysts examine, evaluate, and classify fingerprints that have been left at a crime scene. Prints are extremely important in aiding law enforcement officials in their investigations.


The core function of a fingerprint examiner is to utilize forensic science techniques to assess patterns and ridges of an unknown print for the sole purpose of identification. The analyst will compare an unidentified fingerprint against known print files for matches.

Individuals who find themselves in this career path can expect to be in a crime lab conducting analysis, out in the field collecting evidence, or affixed to their desk comparing potential matches. Typically, fingerprint analysts are responsible for a combination of duties in labs and office environments. Those that work in the field employ crime scene investigation techniques to preserve and collect impressions.

Print examiners are required to command sophisticated computer equipment and review photographic evidence. Significant knowledge in securing a crime scene and working with distinct chemical compounds is a daily necessity for specialists who find themselves in the field.


Law enforcement agencies typically require a fingerprint analyst to hold a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, forensic science, criminology or a related natural science field. There are some agencies that will consider associate degree holders as long as they have extensive work experience within an interrelated area. Those whom possess a high school diploma are not necessarily barred from the career path but may find it extremely difficult to secure a position.

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Specialized training for fingerprint identification may also be required by the hiring department, this may be obtained during on-the-job training or through classes within an educational program.

Applicants will need to develop an understanding of fingerprint database systems to document, access, and scrutinize prints.

There are some departments that require fingerprint analysts to hold an IAI Latent Print Certification which is a professional designation that confirms expertise in the science of fingerprints. The test in which one becomes certified is challenging but offers excellent credentials to those who succeed in passing the exam.

Candidates also need to possess strong written and oral communication skills for report documentation and possible court room testimony. Attention to detail is an absolute must in this position as well as superb problem solving and decision making abilities. The ability to stay current with technological advances is vital in this role due to technology practices rapidly transforming in the upcoming years.

Salary & Career Outlook

Fingerprint analysts earn a median annual salary of 55,840 which translates to around $25.41/hr. according to the 2012 Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Expected job growth for forensic science technicians is estimated to increase a meager 6% from 2012–2022.

Competition is immense within the fingerprint field as forensic science has generated much interest in recent years and more candidates are pushing for the same position. Though, growth is on the lower end demand may rise as prosecutors increase introduction of forensic evidence and analyst testimony to juries in the courtroom.

Employment within the criminal justice field as a fingerprint analyst is a fascinating career choice. Those considering a job within this field should further their education and obtain the appropriate training in order to be an outstanding candidate for hiring managers. It is advisable that interested individuals look into obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a related subject for the best possible shot at gainful employment.


Jessica Valdez

Forensice Science School List

Featured picture by CPOA /Flickr/CC BY 2.0/