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Forensic Sciences

Forensic Sciences Careers

Forensic Sciences careers at DEA: Forensic Chemists | Fingerprint Specialists | Digital Forensic Examiner provide scientific support to DEA Special Agents and other law enforcement personnel.

Forensic Sciences Careers

The mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Forensic Sciences is to provide quality scientific, technical and administrative support to the law enforcement and intelligence communities and to the criminal justice system at large, to assist with the enforcement of controlled substance laws and regulations of the United States.

Forensic Chemists

Forensic Chemists analyze evidence for the presence of controlled substances using state-of-the-art instrumentation, provide expert testimony in courts of law, support DEA Special Agents and Diversion Investigators in their criminal and regulatory investigations, and develop intelligence data used to determine trends in local and international drug trafficking.


DEA recruits and hires Forensic Chemists from all levels of experience from recent college graduates to highly experienced chemists. All DEA Forensic Chemists must possess either:

A four-year degree from an accredited college or university with a major in one of the physical sciences, life sciences or engineering including 30 semester hours of chemistry, supplemented by course work in mathematics through differential and integral calculus, and at least 6 semester hours of physics;


A combination of education and experience – course work equivalent to a major as stated above, including at least 30 semester hours in chemistry, supplemented by mathematics through differential and integral calculus, and at least 6 semester hours of physics, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

Experience may include:

  • Conducting varied chemical analyses and tests and physical measurements;
  • Performing routine calculations such as determining concentration or the amount of a substance in a total sample based on analysis of a known portion of samples of narcotic and dangerous drugs; and
  • Writing laboratory reports.

Employment Requirements

The nature of the DEA’s mission requires Forensic Chemists to complete a thorough and in-depth hiring process that may take up to six months or more and includes a panel interview, writing assessment, chemistry knowledge exam, drug test, and full-field background investigation. In addition, applicants must possess a valid driver’s license and successfully complete the following:

  • Medical Clearance: Forensic Chemists must be able to perform work that involves prolonged standing and moderate lifting of evidence. Applicants are required to meet specific medical standards and receive a medical clearance.
  • Training: All newly hired Forensic Chemists must complete the Basic Forensic Chemist Course at the DEA Academy in Quantico, Virginia. The 4-month program combines hands-on training in the laboratory with academic instruction in the classroom. Students must maintain an average of 80 percent on academic examinations and pass the laboratory-based practical skill assessments to graduate. In addition to maintaining a high level of academic achievement, general standards of professionalism will be evaluated as well.

Fingerprint Specialists use state-of-the-art examination techniques for development and comparisons of latent prints, support DEA Special Agents in their investigations, assist with clandestine laboratory investigations, provide testimony in Federal, state and local courts of law, and conduct training for DEA Forensic Chemists and law enforcement officials.



DEA is looking for Fingerprint Specialists who have experience:

  • Performing latent print examinations on porous and non-porous items to develop the most difficult and fragmentary latent prints;
  • Preparing written laboratory reports based on examination, development, and comparison of latent prints;
  • Testifying as an expert witness in the area of fragmentary or imperfect impressions of latent prints;
  • Analyzing complex fingerprint cases which include imperfect and partial latent fingerprint impressions to make an identification;
  • Conducting methods development projects to improve latent fingerprint examination capabilities;
  • Using highly technical and advanced laboratory equipment and complex chemical mixtures along with complicated scientific techniques for latent print development.
  • Participating in clandestine laboratory investigations.


Applicants for Fingerprint Specialist (GS 12 and above) must possess a certification by the International Association for Identification (IAI) for Certified Latent Print Examiner.  The certification date must be within 5 years from the date of your application.


Fingerprint Specialist must successfully complete a series of training exercises, practical skills assessments, and complete a competency comparison examination.  The training will also include instruction on ethics, integrity, evidence handling procedures, chemical methods on processing porous and non-porous items, operational of fingerprint equipment, Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems AFIS), and court procedures.

Digital Forensic Examiners recover and analyze digital evidence, provide expert testimony in courts of law, provide investigative support to law enforcement, and conduct training to law enforcement personnel.


    DEA is looking for skilled Information Technology Professionals who have: 

    • Acquiring computer-related evidence using recovery methods, programming and algorithmic designs;
    • Installing, maintaining, configuring, or optimizing operating systems, databases, or communication networks;
    • Performing computer-related forensic examinations;
    • Analyzing a number of alternative approaches for the major aspects of IT system design; and
    • Explaining complex technical issues to non-technical audiences.

    and/or Education:

    • Master's degree or 2 full years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree or equivalent in computer science, engineering, information science, information systems management, mathematics, operations research, statistics, or technology management. 
    • Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree OR 3 full years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree in computer science, engineering, information science, information systems management, mathematics, operations research, statistics, or technology management OR a degree that provided a minimum of 24 semester hours in one or more of the fields identified above and required the development or adaptation of applications, systems or networks.


    Digital Forensic Examiners must successfully complete a training program that includes instruction on ethics, integrity, evidence handling procedures, analytical procedures, instrumental techniques, and court procedures.

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