How to Become a Blood Spatter Analyst
Every year the rate of crime continues to grow nationwide. This growing rate also increases the demand for more law enforcement professionals to solve these crimes. If you’ve ever watched a crime drama on TV, and who hasn’t, you’ve probably noticed how many of crimes are solved by law enforcement professionals.
Of the many law enforcement professionals solving crimes, many of them work behind the scenes, such as blood spatter analysts. If you’re wondering how to become a blood spatter analyst or what they do, get all the information you need not just on how to become a blood spatter analyst but what you can expect from this career.
What is a Blood Spatter Analyst?
Blood spatter analysts (BSA) are a type of forensic science technician. A blood spatter analyst, also known as a bloodstain pattern analyst, is a professional trained to work with blood found at crime scenes.
Although a lot of their time is spent at crime scenes, they also spend an almost equal amount of time in labs analyzing the blood, and blood patterns and determining how they fit into the crime scene. The work performed by these professionals is very important because the patterns made by blood can determine many things, including what direction the blood came from, what angle it came from, and even the type of weapon used in the crime.
Independent Forensic Services states that a BSA can determine not only where the victim was killed but even if the victim was laying on a couch and struck by a blunt object or something similar. The blood pattern can also help law enforcement know how long the victim has been dead.
According to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, a BSA can determine how and where the victim was injured and when the victim died just by analyzing the blood drops. They can do this even by just looking at droplets of blood at the crime scene. With all this said, it’s no wonder why blood spatter analysts are such an important part of law enforcement and solving crimes. Their work and expertise in extremely valuable for solving crimes.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t provide career information specifically for blood spatter analysts, but they do offer it for forensic science technicians. Since blood spatter analysts are grouped in the same category as forensic science technicians, their career outlooks are very similar if not the same.
These professionals are expected to experience a job growth of 11 percent between 2021 and 2031, which is faster than that of other occupations. More forensic science technicians will be needed and hired to help law enforcement agencies solve crimes as quickly as possible. They’re also being employed to work with government agencies. About 2,000 new jobs should be created for this profession by 2031.
Blood spatter technicians or analysts generally work during the daytime but are also called in to work in the evenings or weekends. When a crime is committed, it’s often vital that the analyst gets to the crime scene as soon as possible whether it’s during work hours or on a rainy Saturday night. If a crime has been committed, time is of the essence. They may also be required to travel to other cities or jurisdictions.
Location always plays a big part in career growth and wage/salary potential.
States with highest number of forensic science technicians hired:
- California – 2,670
- Florida – 1,760
- Texas – 1,690
- Arizona – 910
- New York – 760
Blood Spatter Analyst Salary
The salary earned by a blood spatter analyst can depend on where the individual works, the degree level earned, various certifications earned, and the geographical location. A May 2021 report by the BLS indicates that forensic science technicians earned wages ranging from $37,670 to $103,430 or more, and the average annual wage for that year was $66,850.
Their hourly wage was about $32.14. Different reporting agencies often offer different wage reports. ZipRecruiter reports that blood spatter analysts earned an average annual wage of $70,219 across the nation as of February 2023. Salary.com reports their average annual wage nationwide at $72,910.
States where forensic science technicians earned the highest wages:
- Illinois – $90,330
- California – $90,300
- Massachusetts – $84,740
- New York – $81,370
- Oregon – $81,340
How to Become a Blood Spatter Analyst
1. Earn a degree
For those wondering how to become a blood spatter analyst, the first step is earning a degree. The degree should be in forensic science, physical science, or natural science such as chemistry or biology. You can also choose to earn a degree in police science or criminal justice with a concentration in forensic science or blood spatter analysis.
2. Get an advanced degree for more opportunities
Although you can become a blood spatter analyst with a bachelor’s degree, many choose to earn a master’s degree for better career opportunities. While the bachelor’s degree may get you hired as a blood spatter analyst, many employers may require or prefer a master’s degree because there is a lot to learn in this field, and much of it is only learned in a graduate program. A person may gain employment as a blood spatter analyst with an associate degree in this field if the candidate has several years of relevant work in this area.
3. Get certifications
Additionally, the individual may wish to earn certain certifications that may require a graduate degree. Various forensic science degrees can be earned by blood spatter analysts. Courses in this program may include statistical analysis, criminology, constitutional law, anatomy, and biology, among others.
4. Complete on-the-job training
Blood spatter analysts, like other forensic science technicians, are usually required to complete a year or two of on-the-job training working under a supervisor before being allowed to work on their own. Some students also apply for internships to gain some real-world experience. Even after being employed, these crime analysts attend workshops or classes to enhance their knowledge and skills.
Day in the Life
If you’ve watched crime shows like Law & Order, CSI, or even Dexter, you know how law enforcement agencies use blood analysis for DNA profiling. However, blood spatter analysts use blood for so much more. To say their daily workday can be exciting yet challenging is an understatement. In addition to using their knowledge of blood, they use cameras, sketching materials, and cutting tools.
Everything they see at the crime scene must be documented. While they often work independently, they also work with criminal investigators. They work for any agency that deals with violent crimes. These agencies include police departments, forensic science companies, and public crime labs. In addition to the blood-related work they do, they may also perform forensic autopsies.
If blood spatter analysts were asked what they do, or how they spend their days, they would probably say they go to crime scenes, assess the blood, take pictures, and go back to the lab to analyze the blood and make their determinations. However, they do a whole lot more than just that.
They have a very busy day and a lot of responsibilities. Their work alone may be enough to be vital in solving a crime. Here are a few of the many things they do throughout their workday.
- Travel to the crime scene to inspect the entire area.
- Gather and preserve blood samples
- Analyze the location, shape, size, and consistency of the blood drops
- Use and maintain lab equipment
- Take pictures and make sketches of the crime scene
- Consult with law enforcement, detectives, and other forensic experts
- Determine what kind of weapon was used to commit the crime
- Write up a detailed report of findings and their thoughts about the crime
- Reconstruct the scene of the crime
- Testify in court as expert witnesses
- Give their findings to detectives, lawyers, and law enforcement
- Perform microscopic and chemical analyses on the blood and other evidence
Licensure, Certification, and Continuing Education
Licensure is typically not required by law to work as a blood spatter analyst, but this can vary from state to state. It can also vary by law enforcement agencies. Aspiring blood spatter analysts are advised to check with their state to learn the requirements. Even in an area where licensure is not required, the individual may choose to obtain certification, or the employer may require certification.
One agency that offers bloodstain pattern analyst certification is the International Association for Identification. However, there are specific requirements that must be met for the analyst to obtain this certification.
The candidate must have at least 240 instructional hours on bloodstain pattern analysis and interpretation. Of these hours, 100 of them must be specific to bloodstain pattern analysis. The remaining 140 must be completed through coursework, and the courses must be board-certified. Some course topics include:
- Evidence recovery
- Crime scene investigation
- Forensic science and technology
- Blood detection techniques
- Forensic photography
- Medicolegal death investigation
When completing the 240 hours of instruction, the student can complete up to 20 of those hours online. In addition to completing the 100 hours of bloodstain pattern analysis, the individual must have at least three years of work experience in this specific field. Regarding educational requirements, the individual must have at least a bachelor’s degree.
The candidate must also provide two letters of recommendation from individuals who are knowledgeable of the candidate’s experience and expertise in this area. Once the individual has satisfied all these requirements, he or she can take the certification exam, which is the final step in the certification process.
The six-hour exam, which consists of both true/false and multiple-choice questions, must be passed with a score of at least 75 percent. The certification is good for five years. To maintain certification, the analyst must complete at least 50 continuing education credits throughout the five years and take a recertification exam.
Certain courses may also be required to maintain any certifications the individual may have. Blood pattern analysis is a constantly growing field that requires the individual to keep up with new software and techniques. A potential employer may want a blood spatter analyst proficient in and knowledgeable of rapid DNA testing. HemoSpat, alternative light photography, and high-powered microscopic systems.
Continuing education is vital in this career because new blood pattern analysis software is constantly being developed. It’s necessary for blood spatter analysts to keep up with the rapidly growing technology.
Researching how to become a blood spatter analyst is just the first step. Earning your education and getting a foot in the door is a big part of this career path as well.