The television character Dexter Morgan has mesmerized millions of viewers. Though his vigilante activities are questionable to say the least, the title character of the popular show "Dexter" has captivated the imaginations of a new generation of people interested in a criminology career.
In the series, Dexter works as a forensic science technician and blood stain pattern analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department. Like every good antihero, Dexter has a tragic flaw. In his case, Dexter is also a serial killer. To reconcile his need to kill with his chosen career path, Dexter chooses victims who he knows are also murderers.
Certainly the juxtaposition of a noble career next to a seemingly incompatible, illegal and immoral personal life makes for good television. However, even more interesting and inspiring for so many aspiring criminal justice career seekers is the fascinating forensic science career specialty of blood stain pattern analysis.
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Job Functions and Work Environment
Like most forensic science technicians, blood stain pattern analysts' primary purpose is the collection and analysis of physical evidence, in this case blood. Specifically, bloodstain pattern analysts examine the location and shape of blood drops, stains, puddles and pools.
Often called blood splatter or blood spatter experts, these crime scene technicians are called to often gruesome scenes to gather crucial evidence regarding violent crimes.
Bloodstain pattern analysts use their expertise to determine:
- The type of weapon used
- The direction of travel of a victim or suspect
- The trajectory of a projectile
- The number of wounds a victim may have suffered
- How events unfolded during a violent crime
This information can help detectives and investigators determine what type of crime they are dealing with and provide vital information for successful prosecution.
The job of a bloodstain patter analyst often includes:
- Responding to crime scenes
- Interacting with bio hazardous material (blood and body fluids)
- Taking photographs
- Collecting samples
- Writing reports
- Testifying in court
Blood spatter experts work alongside criminal investigators and work closely with other analysts. Due to the nature of the job, they necessarily spend a lot of time around potentially hazardous body fluids, so exposure is always a danger if proper precautions are not taken.
The work shift is typically standard, Monday through Friday during traditional business hours. However, blood splatter analysts may be subject to call out and can find themselves working at all hours, any time a crime scene is discovered.
Most bloodstain analysts work for large metropolitan police departments or state-run crime laboratories. With experience and training, blood splatter experts may be able to find more lucrative work in the private sector working as a contractor or expert witness for private attorneys.
Education And Skill Requirements
Like other forensic science technicians, bloodstain pattern analysts should have strong backgrounds in scientific studies. A bachelor's degree in one of the natural sciences is usually required. Blood splatter experts deal with many different academic areas, such as physics, mathematics, biology and chemistry.
In addition, bloodstain pattern analysts are required to undergo special training. Standardized training in basic analysis has been developed by the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts.
Besides the Basic Bloodstain Pattern Analysis Course, other advanced training and courses are available, and in fact are recommended as analysts become established in their careers.
Job Growth and Salary Outlook
As technology advances and demand for more accurate criminal investigations increases, the growth potential for blood stain pattern analysts is expected to be high.
Exact numbers are uncertain, but growth across all specializations within the forensic sciences is expected to be near 20 percent through 2018, which is significantly higher than the average rate of 12 percent for other careers.
Potential earnings can range from $30,000 annually to $83,000 per year. The mean salary for all forensic science technicians is around $55,000.
Is a Career as a Bloodstain Pattern Analyst Right for You?
Bloodstain pattern analysts must work under a variety of conditions, but they are often called to horrific and gruesome crime scenes. A career as a blood splatter expert is by no means for the feint of heart or those with a weak stomach.
Blood splatter analysis does, however, offer a tremendous and rewarding challenge for those with inquisitive minds. If you enjoy puzzles and problem solving, and you don't mind the sight of blood, working as a bloodstain pattern analysts may be the perfect criminology career for you.
- Learn more about careers in forensic science.