Forensic biotechnology is the application of biotechnology to the legal system. Typically, forensic biotechnology is associated with DNA fingerprinting. By identifying DNA salvaged from a crime scene (e.g. tissues, hair, blood, etc.), a forensic biotechnologist can place a suspect at the scene of the crime or identify an unknown individual. A less well-known application of forensic biotechnology is its use to identify and monitor non-human organisms, such as endangered species, through DNA fingerprinting.
Education & Training
There are associate degree programs in forensic DNA science available, however most employers require that their forensic technicians hold at least a bachelor's degree.
Students are encouraged to take courses in the following subjects:
- Forensic science
- Computers and technology
- Molecular biology
- Criminal evidence
- Organic chemistry
- Crime scene investigation
Graduate degrees are also available in forensic biotechnology. A graduate degree can involve up to 10 additional years of education. Certificate programs are also available that require the completion of certain courses. The credits earned from most of these courses can usually be transferred to a degree program at any time.
Individuals with degrees in forensic biotechnology can find full time positions in local, state, and federal law enforcement institutions; museums; research laboratories; and other government agencies.
As of 2008, forensic scientist technicians earned an average of $23.97 per hour. Currently, the median annual salary of a forensic science technician with one to four years of experience is between $29,238 and $42,542.