What Does A Latent Print Examiner Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Latent Print Examiners

Latent print examiners are in the business of gathering and identifying fingerprints. They might do it at a crime scene or they can work at a police station. Take a look at some of their duties.


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A latent print examiner is in charge of the identification process of fingerprints on a crime scene. They will take photographs and use different methods of identification, including running them through the FBI’s Fingerprint identification System. They will also prepare reports on the fingerprint evidence and the methods they used to identify the fingerprints. They can even be called into court to testify.

What they do

Latent print examiners are in the business of gathering and identifying fingerprints. They might do it at a crime scene or they can work at a police station. Take a look at some of their duties.

Lift Fingerprints from Surfaces

One of the things that latent print examiners do is lift fingerprints from surfaces. They lift them from cars, guns, walls, documents, windows, and anywhere else that someone may have left a print behind. When you lift the fingerprints, you will use one of a number of processes including dusting, ALS (alternative light source), cyanoacrylate, chemical developers, and more.

Analyze the Fingerprints

Another thing that latent print examiners do is analyze the fingerprints that are lifted. For example, the latent print examiner might take the latent prints and compare them to known prints by running the image through the FBI database. They can also compare the prints to other evidence from a crime scene.

Testify in Court

Latent print examiners also testify in court. If you are an expert, you will tell the judge and jury how the prints were lifted and explain how they are a match. This requires in-depth knowledge of fingerprints and the process of lifting them and comparing them.

Write Report of Fingerprints

The latent print examiner also has to write a report on the fingerprints. It is important to write a report stating how the prints were lifted, how they were preserved, and how they were matched to the individual. It is necessary to keep a clean chain of command to ensure that the evidence is not damaged or called into question.

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What is the job like


You get to be part of a team

If you enjoy solving crimes and being part of a team, you will have an important role on this team. You will work together with detectives to solve crimes.

You get to solve mysteries

Sometimes the fingerprint evidence is the only evidence that solves the mystery surrounding unusual circumstances. You get to solve that mystery by identifying the prints of the person who is unknown.

You get to testify in court as an expert

This is a specialized field that requires experience and training, and you will testify in court as to your findings. The attorneys, judge, and jury are relying on your testimony as a crucial part of the case.

Your job is interesting

You will have a job where you are working on different crimes all the time. You might even have a number of cases going on at the same time.


You are under a lot of pressure

You need to be accurate all the time because a mistake can have huge consequences. You could help convict an innocent person or you could be responsible for a criminal being set free.

You can work long hours

You might get called in late at night if a crime occurs and they need you.

Where they work

Police department crime scene investigations unit
Medical examiner’s office
Private firms

Latent print examiners usually work in a crime scene investigations unit. They might work for a police department or the FBI. They are usually called out to the crime scene to search for evidence and lift fingerprints. They can also work in a medical examiner’s office where they help to identify unknown people who are deceased. They can hold private jobs as well.

How to become one

Step 1: Get Certified as a Latent Print Examiner

You are required to go to an accredited fingerprint training course where you will receive 80 hours of instruction prior to certification. These courses are offered by the FBI, schools, and the International Association for Identification, among others. Once you complete the course and training, you can take the exam. You will receive a five-year certification.

Step 2: Get a Degree in Forensic Science

Although you are not required to get a college degree, getting one will give you a leg up in your career. You should decide what your goals are and whether it is worthwhile for you to pursue the degree.

Step 3: Apply for a Job

You should apply for a job at police departments, the FBI, or anywhere else you want to work as a latent print examiner.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Thinker

People with this personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

Latent fingerprint examiners need to be curious and enjoy solving puzzles. They also have a visual mind that can see and discern patterns in prints. They need to have attention to detail and be very patient and precise. They should also have good communication skills so that they can testify in court and write up a report. You should be friendly because you are going to work on a team.

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