DNA Analyst  What They Do

Just the Facts


Insider Info

dotDNA analysts -- sometimes called forensic biologists -- play a key role in the investigation of violent crimes. They collect, test and analyze blood samples to help provide critical evidence of how a crime happened and who committed it.

People who do this work used to be known as forensic serologists. Most agree this term is now outdated. That's because it deals only with blood. Today's DNA analysts also look at samples of hair, saliva and other biological evidence.

dotA DNA analyst's work begins when a crime is reported. If the lead investigator feels it is necessary, they will be brought in before the scene is disturbed. They may notice something about the blood stain patterns that indicates a struggle or shows how many people were involved, for example.

After samples are collected, the analysts can return to the lab to produce a DNA profile of the samples found at the scene. They'll want to determine whether the samples belong to the victim or a possible suspect. If the DNA matches a suspect's, there is a very high probability the suspect was at the scene of the crime.

Usually, DNA analysts are most interested in the so-called DNA fingerprint left behind in the blood. DNA is a long strand of "code." And because every person's DNA is unique, matching the DNA from a suspect's blood with blood found at a crime scene can help ensure a conviction or prompt a suspect to confess.

dotDNA analysts work as part of a team that includes field investigators, detectives and others who work in the various disciplines of forensics.

In addition to field and lab work, DNA analysts spend some time in courtrooms, testifying before juries or judges about what their work has produced. Because they need to be called as soon as a crime is discovered, they sometimes work weekends or late nights. Otherwise, they usually work a standard workday.

At a Glance

Analyze blood, hair and saliva evidence in criminal cases

  • Analysts play a vital role in detective work
  • You need a scientific mind and a strong grasp of biology
  • As DNA technology improves, so will job prospects