There are several types of forensic analyst, and the job duties of each vary quite a bit. For example, some have to go straight to the scene of a crime, because crime scene examiners and forensic engineers usually are needed right away. Others, such as computer forensic analysts and crime laboratory analysts, tend to stay at the office to study items involved in crimes. Another type of forensic analyst, called a forensic psychologist, usually studies suspects to make sure they are competent to stand trial. Medical examiners, on the other hand, tend to focus on the dead bodies found at crime scenes, and the information they obtain can help with the conviction of the suspect.
Many forensic analysts have to go out into the field, such as to crime scenes, to do this job. For example, a crime scene examiner usually is among the first at the scene; he is responsible for securing the area and carefully collecting any possible evidence — such as hair, blood or bullets — that may lead to finding the culprit. Also frequently at the scene are forensic engineers, who may use their knowledge of math and science to pinpoint what happened. Investigations of car accidents and fires are among those most likely to need the help of this kind of forensic analyst.
Some analyst jobs mainly involve staying at the office while working, because certain types of analysts tend to spend their time studying objects that were involved in the crime, rather than observing the crime scene. One example is a computer forensic analyst, who typically studies computers that may have been used just before the crime. Talented computer forensic analysts usually can recover deleted files and unearth photos and emails that may help discover who committed the criminal act in question. A crime laboratory analyst also may tend to stay at the office to perform the typical forensic analyst duties, because blood, drugs and weapons often need to be closely examined if they are to help find the culprit.
While some types of forensic analysts focus on the crime scene or the objects used during the incident, others turn their attention to the people involved. For instance, once the work of the other analysts points toward the suspect, a forensic psychologist steps in to figure out if the suspect has a mental illness. If so, then he likely will need to be treated differently than someone who is not mentally ill, so this type of forensic analyst is considered quite important. A similarly crucial participant in crime scene investigations is the medical examiner, who usually studies the dead bodies involved in crimes. This kind of forensic analyst typically strives to determine how and when the victim died, which may help convict the suspect.