Operations » Training » Forensic Chemist Training


The DEA Training Academy and the Office of Forensic Sciences cooperate to provide the technical training which enables newly hired scientists to become DEA forensic chemists. The 17-week program combines hands-on training in the laboratory with academic instruction in the classroom. The laboratory based training provides students with experience in the analysis of unknown powders, liquids, and plant materials using the most advanced physical, chemical, and instrumental techniques available. These practical experiences are augmented with academic instruction in statistics, ethics, chain of custody, case file preparation, laboratory operations, and laboratory accreditation requirements.  Students also explore the chemistry of clandestine drug syntheses by conducting a detailed, mechanistic examination of various synthetic methods.  This training enables students to recognize route specific by-products and generate production estimates. Additional instruction and practical exercises provide the students with training in law, contemporary legal issues, and expert testimony. Upon graduation, the new Forensic Chemist is qualified to conduct the forensic analysis of drug evidence submitted to DEA laboratories.


The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Forensic Chemist Seminar is designed for Forensic Chemists from federal, state, and local agencies who have completed their agency’s training program and have been analyzing exhibits for controlled substances for at least one year (not including time spent in training). 

This seminar provides a comprehensive learning experience on topics related to the analysis of controlled substances, quality assurance, clandestine laboratories, expert testimony, and instrumental techniques, by combining interactive classroom instruction, participation in hands-on demonstrations, and a forum for the attendees to exchange information.  Upon completion of the seminar, chemists will have gained knowledge in current drug trends including synthetic cannabinoids, cocaine processing, opium-to-heroin processing, methamphetamine syntheses, and other hallucinogenic drugs.  They will also be able to incorporate the techniques that they have learned from the hands-on sessions, including trouble-shooting and performing their own maintenance on various types of instrumentation, into the performance of their duties at their home laboratories.  

The Forensic Chemist Seminar is conducted over a 4½ day period at the Special Testing and Research Laboratory, in Dulles, Virginia. There is no tuition associated with the seminar; however travel, lodging, and meal expenses are at the expense of the attendee. For an application and current seminar schedule please contact the seminar coordinators at


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