FBI Laboratory Positions

Created in 1932, the FBI Laboratory is one of the largest and most comprehensive crime labs in the world. Today the Laboratory is a full-service operation with some 700 scientific experts and special agents working out of state-of-the-art facilities in Quantico, Virginia, and Huntsville, Alabama, conducting forensic examinations and providing technical support, expert witness testimony, and advanced training to Bureau personnel and partners around the globe. Whether it’s examining DNA to help determine guilt or innocence, analyzing the fingerprints left at a crime scene, or linking exploded bomb fragments to terrorists, the personnel of the FBI Laboratory are dedicated to using the rigors of science to solve cases and prevent acts of crime and terrorism.

Biologist 

Biologists work to analyze DNA from body fluid stains and other biological tissues recovered from items of evidence, and comparing those to DNA collected from known individuals. Such analyses can associate victims and suspects with each other, with evidence items, or to a crime scene. The FBI conducts nuclear and mitochondrial DNA testing on evidence samples, as appropriate for the type of evidence, as well as produces DNA profiles from buccal samples submitted by federal law enforcement agencies for comparison to DNA profiles from crime scene samples in the National DNA Index System.

The Laboratory Division offers many other biology specializations such as: Forensic Examiner, Technical Specialist, DNA Program Specialist, CODIS Auditor, Research, Technical Leader, Program Managers, Supervisor, and Unit Chief.

Forensic examiners (FEs) provide scientific evaluations of biological evidence that are used to aid law enforcement investigations. FEs compare DNA profiles from evidence and reference samples using software systems, and document their findings in detailed reports. These examiners also provide analytical assistance and expert opinions used during law enforcement investigations, criminal and civilian court cases, and regulatory proceedings.

Biologists within the Laboratory Division can also perform a variety of other duties relating to DNA analysis, such as research, quality assurance, maintenance of scientific equipment, technical leadership, program management, auditing of DNA processes, and supervision.

Working Conditions

The work is performed in a laboratory setting which may involve regular recurring handling of hazardous materials, toxic substances, and blood-borne pathogens. Employees are expected to follow safe laboratory practices and wear protective clothing, including facial masks, safety glasses, and gloves, and use fume flow hoods as warranted.

Basic Qualifications

All candidates must be United States citizens. Biologist candidates must have either (A) successful completion of a four-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in a biological science, chemistry, or forensic science with a biology emphasis, or (B) a combination of education and experience with course work equivalent to a major, mentioned in (A) plus appropriate experience or additional education.

Forensic examiners must have successfully completed coursework (graduate or undergraduate level) covering the subject of biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology (molecular genetics, recombinant DNA technology) or other subjects which provide basic understanding of the foundations of forensic DNA analysis. FEs are probationary employees for two years and must sign a Forensic Examiner Training Agreement as a condition of employment. FEs must also successfully complete up to a two-year training program necessary for qualifications as an FBI forensic examiner. Once qualified, the employee must remain in the FBI Laboratory for two years after the completion of training performing FE duties.

In addition to meeting the basic educational qualification requirements, applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower grade level. Specialized experience is professional work in forensic serology, biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology performed in a laboratory setting, which includes the successful analysis of a range of DNA samples.

Education may be substituted for specialized experience at the GS-7 (bachelor’s degree), GS-9 (master’s degree), and GS-11 (doctorate degree) levels.

Note: Please review each job announcement for the specific qualifications and specialized experience.

Chemist 

Chemists within the Laboratory Division provide scientific support to FBI investigations. They perform functions such as scientific assessments, interpretation, and in some cases trial testimony. Chemists are able to function in case-working, non-case working, and operational disciplines.

Case-working chemists provide analysis of chemical and physical evidence submitted from FBI or state and local agency investigations. Case-working chemists provide court testimony and develop new forensic methodologies to support the investigative needs of the community. Case-working chemists also provide analytical and comparison services in one or more specialized disciplines, such as toxicology, paints and polymers, tapes, adhesives, explosives, fire debris, powders, liquids, stains, chemical warfare agents, etc.

Operational chemists deploy to crime scenes and provide on-site expert consultation, hazard assessment, collection planning, packaging and containment, and material handling. Operational chemists also lead and conduct specialized training for field operations and various inter-agency partners.

Types of Operational and Case-working Chemists

  • Chemist-Forensic Examiner (FE)
  • Chemist
  • Supervisory Chemist (FE)
  • Chemist-Non Exam (Chemical Hazards Response)

Non-case working and analytical chemists conduct research, develop, and validate analytical methods to support FBI case work. These groups of chemists monitor and ensure compliance with quality assurance guidelines, initiate new analytical procedures, maintain scientific instrumentation, research and implement new technologies, perform network administration, and provide technical assistance to support FBI investigations.

Types of Non-Case Working Chemists

  • Chemist-Non Exam
  • Supervisory Chemist-Instrument Manager
  • Research Chemist

Working Conditions

The work is performed in a laboratory setting which may involve regular, recurring exposure to hazardous materials, toxic substances, and blood-borne pathogens. Employees are expected to follow safe laboratory practices and wear protective clothing, including facial masks, safety glasses, and gloves, and use fume flow hoods as warranted. Depending on the assignment, they may be exposed to dangers associated with crime scene processing and/or the handling of explosive materials. For some positions, employees are required to be certified in the use of personal protective equipment (HAZMAT suit) and pass a HAZMAT physical.

Basic Qualifications

All candidates must be United States citizens. Chemist candidates must have either (A) successful completion of a four-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor’s degree in physical sciences, life sciences, or engineering that included 30 semester hours in chemistry, supplemented by course work in mathematics through differential and integral calculus, and at least 6 hours of physics, or (B) a combination of education and experience with course work equivalent to a major as shown in (A) above, including at least 30 semester hours in chemistry, supplemented by mathematics through differential and at least 6 semester hours of physics, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

Forensic examiners are probationary employees for two years and must sign a Forensic Examiner Training Agreement as a condition of employment. FEs must also successfully complete up to a two-year training program necessary for qualification as an FBI forensic examiner. Once qualified, the employee must remain in the FBI Laboratory for two years after the completion of training performing FE duties.

In addition to meeting the basic educational qualification requirements, applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower grade level. Specialized experience is defined as experience which is in or directly related to work in a laboratory environment by (1) performing complex analyses utilizing a wide range of analytical methods, including sophisticated instrumentation in general chemistry; (2) professional knowledge of chemical principles, theories, concepts, and practices; and (3) experience applying established scientific and administrative analytical techniques to provide accurate technical information.

Education may be substituted for specialized experience at the GS-7 (bachelor’s degree), GS-9 (master’s degree), and GS-11 (doctorate degree) levels.

Note: Please review each job announcement for the specific qualifications and specialized experience.

Cryptanalyst-Forensic Examiner 

Secret messages are more common and have become even more sophisticated amongst criminals thanks to today’s technologically dependent world. When evidentiary information received by the Laboratory Division is of cryptic communications, records, or symbols, the need to manually break “pen and paper” codes are completed by the division’s cryptanalysts. Cryptanalysts are human decoders who use their analytical, mathematical, and intuitive skills in order to decipher secret or hidden information and translate them into readable text without the use of a pre-existing key. By gaining as much information about the original data and discovering how to solve its unique key, cryptanalysts have remained a valuable and necessary weapon in the FBI’s investigative arsenal.

Laboratory Division cryptanalyst-forensic examiners provide three unique services:

  • Cryptanalysis: Breaking coded messages commonly used by prison inmates, street gangs, spies, terrorists, and other criminals to protect communications and/or conceal information. Results have revealed murder hits, weapon stashes, admissions of guilt, and other planned criminal activity.
  • Records/ledgers analysis: Examining ledgers and other records related to criminal business activities, such as drug distribution, illegal gambling, loan sharking, prostitution, and alien smuggling. Results have revealed weights of drugs bought/sold, total amounts wagered, interest rates for loans, process of goods/services, and roles of participants.
  • Tattoo/symbol analysis: Comparing tattoos, cryptic symbols, and graffiti to information in databases as well as open source materials to identify similar images. Results have identified tattoos and symbols associated with the occult, terrorism, gangs, and drug cartels.

In addition, the Laboratory’s cryptanalysts provide operational support services, such as training, on-site consultations, customized analytical work, and/or assistance during execution of a search and seizure warrant.

Working Conditions

The work is performed in a laboratory setting, which may involve regular, recurring exposure to hazardous materials, toxic substances, and blood-borne pathogens. Therefore, employees are expected to follow safe laboratory practices and wear protective clothing, including facial masks, safety glasses, and gloves, and use fume flow hoods as warranted. The work requires manual dexterity and flexibility, and some assignments may require considerable, strenuous physical exertion which may require lifting objects of up to 50 pounds or more. Much of the time is spent inventorying and processing evidence, which requires walking, bending, stretching, crawling, and lifting. Candidates must be willing to work irregular and/or odd-shifts, weekends, and holidays. Occasional travel may be required.

Basic Qualifications

All candidates must be United States citizens. All applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the next lower grade level. Specialized experience is defined as experience which is in or directly related to cryptanalysis or racketeering activities (investigation of drugs, gambling, money laundering, loan sharking, prostitution, etc.) as well as knowledge of accounting, business, or banking concepts (maintaining business records, cash flow, accounting principles, certified public accountant, financial analysis).

Forensic examiners must sign a Forensic Examiner Training Service Agreement as a condition of employment. FEs must also successfully complete up to a two-year training program necessary for qualification as an FBI forensic examiner. Once qualified, the employee must remain in the FBI Laboratory for two years after the completion of training performing FE duties.

Education may be substituted for specialized experience at the GS-7 (bachelor’s degree with a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher), GS-9 (master’s degree), and GS-11 (doctorate degree) levels.

Note: Please review each job announcement for the specific qualifications and specialized experience.

Document Analyst 

Document analysts in the FBI Laboratory Division provide support to operational investigations and post-crime forensic analysis regarding the identification and comparison of documents, footwear and tire tread impressions, and related materials. They routinely handle physical evidence, some of which can be fragile and require special handling. Document analysts offer direct, on-site technical support at investigative crime scenes, and support prosecutorial efforts by providing technical reports, visual products, and expert testimony. Also, they provide training to the law enforcement community and often represent the FBI when communicating with federal, state, local, and international partners. Document analysts are significant contributors to many FBI operations and prosecutions.

There are two career ladders within the Laboratory Division that perform document analysis work: document analysts and document analyst-forensic examiners.

Document Analysts

Document analysts work within the Case Processing Center, assisting forensic examiners in supporting operational casework by processing incoming evidence submissions from FBI field offices and federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. They conduct a wide variety of preliminary examinations of evidence, including those related to indented writings, typewriting, watermark, torn and cut documents, and transcribing office equipment ribbons. Document analysts also perform special examinations and make necessary test impressions of tire treads, shoe prints, and similar impressions. They compare and analyze materials in an effort to identify any distinguishing marks or features using available reference collections. Document analysts present findings to forensic examiners (FEs) for final comparisons, providing documentation for all preliminary examinations.

Document Analyst-Forensic Examiners

Document analyst-forensic examiners are responsible for planning, coordinating, and directing forensic science activities in the FBI to include expert examinations, reporting of results, training, and testimony. FEs are assigned to either the Questioned Documents Group or the Footwear and Tire Group:

Questioned Documents Group (QDG) Forensic Examiner

The QDG conducts forensic examinations on documents as well as related items that include mechanical impressions, polyethylene film products, and office equipment. They review and interpret data provided by analysts, conduct examinations, draw conclusions, prepare final reports, and testify in court. They also provide on-site technical support at the full range of search and crime scenes in the field; conduct handwriting analysis to identify likely fraudulent documents; collect handwriting exemplars; assist with searches; and assist and advise others on the best methods for collecting, preserving, and preparing evidence for shipping.

Footwear and Tire Group (FTG) Forensic Examiner

The FTG conducts forensic examinations on footwear and tire impressions, which can be found in a wide range of mediums to include blood or other biological materials; in photographs; or in casts or lifts made from impressions in sand, mud, or snow. They create test impressions with known tires on vehicles to compare to the impression evidence. They also review and interpret data provided by analysts, conduct examinations, draw conclusions, prepare final reports, and testify in court. Like the QDG, the FTG provides on-site support and advises others on the collection, preservation, and shipping of evidence.

Working Conditions

The work is performed in a laboratory setting inventorying and processing evidence, which requires walking, bending, stretching, bending, crawling, and lifting. Employees may have regular, recurring exposure to hazardous materials, toxic substances, and blood-borne pathogens. Therefore, employees are expected to follow safe laboratory practices and wear protective clothing to include, but not limited to: facial masks, safety glasses, and gloves, and use fume flow hoods as warranted.

Document analysts and document analyst-forensic examiners occasionally support real time operations which will require them to work long days and on short notice. The work can require manual dexterity and flexibility, and some assignments will require considerable, strenuous physical exertion, which may require lifting objects of up to 50 pounds or more.

Basic Qualifications

All candidates must be United States citizens. Candidates must have either (A) successful completion of a four-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in physical and biological sciences, graphic arts, police science, criminology, or law; or (B) experience in one or more of the following:

  1. Microscopic examination of materials or the conduct of laboratory tests and experiments that provided a knowledge of scientific techniques, procedures, and instruments. Such experience may have been gained as a physical science aid or technician, laboratory aid, or quality control inspector.
  2. Investigation or law enforcement work that provided a familiarity and working knowledge of document identification and detection procedures and techniques.
  3. Photography where the purpose was to show accurate details of objects or to show information not available to the unaided eye. Such experience may have been gained in such fields as scientific, engineering, technical, or medical photography.
  4. Work that provided a technical knowledge of graphic arts, printing, illustrating, and other recording and duplicating processes, and of the related materials.

Forensic examiners must sign a Forensic Examiner Training Service Agreement as a condition of employment. FEs must also successfully complete up to a two-year training program necessary for qualification as an FBI forensic examiner. Once qualified, the employee must remain in the FBI Laboratory for two years after the completion of training performing FE duties.

In addition to meeting the basic qualification requirements, applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower grade level. For questioned documents positions, specialized experience includes examination and comparison of handwriting, printing, typewriting, and other mechanical impressions in order to make determination of identity or genuineness; analysis of inks, papers, and other recording instruments and materials by chemical, microscopic, and other methods in order to develop information useful in determinations of genuineness, integrity, security, origin, validity of date, or for restoration of mutilated or obliterated matter; and specialized document photography and preparation of photographic exhibits to be used for court demonstration purposes, or supervision of such work. For footwear and tire tread impressions positions, specialized experience involves work related to footwear and tire impressions analysis.

Education may be substituted for specialized experience at the GS-7 (bachelor’s degree with a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher), GS-9 (master’s degree), and GS-11 (doctorate degree) levels.

Note: Please review each job announcement for the specific qualifications and specialized experience.

Electronics Engineer 

The FBI Laboratory Division electronics engineer-forensic examiners (EE-FEs) utilize traditional and innovative scientific tools and techniques to reconstruct the electronics and provide insight into the bomb making activities of terrorists around the globe. In collecting, cataloging, and analyzing thousands of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the EE-FEs characterize and identify the electronics of IEDs. EE-FEs convert complex technical findings into a format understandable by non-technical individuals, and share their analysis and trends with the intelligence community, national and international partners, law enforcement organizations, and military bomb disposal units. The services provided by the Laboratory’s EE-FEs are essential to the Bureau’s ability to investigate high priority cases that will have a direct impact on both the domestic and international prosecution of criminals/terrorists in connection with IEDs and bomb-related incidents.

Working Conditions

The work is performed primarily in an office or laboratory setting, although travel will be required to develop and meet with industry representatives, liaison contacts, implement systems, present materials, and monitor contracts, or otherwise represent the FBI at conferences and other forums. Some walking, bending, stooping, and lifting are required with occasional long periods of standing. Work at field sites may involve strenuous walking, stooping, bending, carrying of heavy instruments and samples, and extended periods of work in mobile laboratories.

Basic Qualifications

All candidates must be United States citizens. Applicants must have an engineering degree (electronics emphasis preferably). To be acceptable, the curriculum must: (1) be in a school of engineering with at least one curriculum accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as a professional engineering curriculum; or (2) include differential and integral calculus and courses (more advanced than first-year physics and chemistry) in five of the following seven areas of engineering science or physics: (a) statistics, dynamics; (b) strength of materials (stress-strain relationships); (c) fluid mechanics, hydraulics; (d) thermodynamics; (e) electrical fields and circuits; (f) nature and properties of materials (relating particle and aggregate structure to properties); and (g) any other comparable area of fundamental engineering science or physics, such as optics, heat transfer, soil mechanics, or electronics.

Applicants may also have a combination of education and experience—college level education, training, and/or technical experience that furnished (1) a thorough knowledge of the physical and mathematical sciences underlying professional engineering, and (2) a good understanding, both theoretical and practical, of the engineering sciences and techniques and their applications to one of the branches of engineering. The adequacy of such a background must be demonstrated by one of the following:

  • Professional registration or licensure: Current registration as an engineer intern (EI), engineer-in-training (EIT), or licensure as a professional engineer (PE) by any state, the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico.
  • Written test: Evidence of having successfully passed the Fundamentals of Engineering examination, or the written test required for professional registration, which is administered by the Boards of Engineering Examiners in the various states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
  • Specified academic courses: Successful completion of at least 60 semester hours of courses in the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences and in engineering that included the courses specified in the basic requirements. The courses must be fully acceptable toward meeting the requirements of a professional engineering curriculum as described above.
  • Related curriculum: Successful completion of a curriculum leading to a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology or in an appropriate professional field—e.g., physics, chemistry, architecture, computer science, mathematics, hydrology, or geology—may be accepted in lieu of a degree in engineering, provided the applicant has had at least 1 year of professional engineering experience acquired under professional engineering supervision and guidance.

Forensic examiners must sign a Forensic Examiner Training Service Agreement as a condition of employment. FEs must also successfully complete up to a two-year training program necessary for qualification as an FBI forensic examiner. Once qualified, the employee must remain in the FBI Laboratory for two years after the completion of training performing FE duties.

In addition to meeting the basic educational qualification requirements, applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower grade level. Specialized experience is work in the field of electronics analysis; experiences with reverse engineering electronic devices; experience in design, modification, installation and maintenance, and implementation of radio frequency electronic systems and technology; experience in design, modification, installation and maintenance, and implementation of cellular-based communications systems; experience with systems engineering of hardware and software from electronic devices to backend information technology (IT) systems; and experience in design, modifications, installation and maintenance, and implementation of devices using mobile communications and network technology.

Education may be substituted for specialized experience at the GS-7 (bachelor’s degree with a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher), GS-9 (master’s degree), and GS-11 (doctorate degree) levels.

Note: Please review each job announcement for the specific qualifications and specialized experience.

Forensic Operations Specialist 

Forensic operations specialists (FOS) provide technical, investigative, operational, and logistical services including direct on-site support in one or more areas of expertise regarding the safe and effective conduct of complex, high-hazard forensic operations. These operations include treacherous or physically inaccessible scenes, underwater evidence recovery, and hazardous crime scenes containing chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) explosives or unknown toxins; special law enforcement; and shooting reconstruction operations. Additionally, FOS provide formal training development, management, and delivery; maintenance, repair, and supply services for FBI Laboratory and field response team equipment; and support and consultation for customers of the FBI Laboratory, which include FBI field offices, foreign governments, and other federal, state, local, and tribal agencies. There are several different disciplines within the FOS job series; while some of the work is common among all disciplines, there are differences that make each of them unique. Some of these disciplines are described below.

Technical Hazards Response - Operations

FOS in the operations programs work in the full range of environments at operational searches or crime scenes, as well as in FBI offices and warehouses. They employ specialized equipment and unique skills to assist responders, investigators, and operators accessing complex, high-hazard scenes such as hazardous materials/CBRN, confined spaces, unstable structures, treacherous terrain, and maritime environments. FOS are experts at technical rope, swift water, excavation, trench operations, and hazardous materials, and they provide a wide range of medical, site safety and logistical support in the field. Their work in the field includes on-site at crime scenes, which may be contaminated with hazardous materials/CBRN, explosives, or unknown toxins. In these conditions, FOS must be capable of wearing enhanced protective gear; they also provide decontamination services for responders in the field. They handle physical evidence, particularly if it is hazardous or suspected of being contaminated with hazardous/CBRN materials. They manage, maintain, and support large inventories of response equipment used in the field, performing preventative maintenance and repair and coordinating with manufacturers to replace and repair equipment when needed. FOS have advanced training and maintain certifications in several areas including aircrew on government aircraft, hazardous materials technician, advanced emergency medicine, operating large/oversized vehicles, and managing formal training programs.

Research and Technology - Evidence Response

FOS in the research and technology program work in the full range of environments in the field at operational search or crime scenes, as well as in FBI offices and warehouses. They plan, conduct, or participate in research studies with domestic and international academic counterparts, law enforcement, other government agencies, and public safety organizations in the areas of detection, recovery, and preservation of evidence. As subject matter experts, FOS also recommend future program objectives and improvements based on developed information, thereafter meeting with managers to persuade or effectively negotiate to accept and implement recommendations. FOS provide a wide range of on-site, logistical support for significant responses in the field, where they manage the shipping, receipt, purchase, setup, and breakdown of all equipment required at the site. They manage, maintain, and support large inventories of response equipment used in the field, performing preventative maintenance and repair and coordinating with manufacturers to replace and repair equipment when needed.

Underwater Search and Evidence Response Team (USERT) Support Program

FOS in the USERT Support Program work in the full range of environments in the field at operational search or crime scenes, as well as in FBI offices and warehouses. They employ specialized equipment and unique skills to support FBI diving operations in a wide range of environments including ports, swift water, harbors, and waterways; urban areas; and at remote sites. They are experts at operating and servicing the full range of dive equipment and supporting underwater search operations. FOS typically provide surface support to the dive teams and provide assistance with emergency medicine and site safety. They provide on-site logistics for significant underwater search operations in the field, where they manage the shipping, receipt, purchase, setup, and breakdown of all equipment required at the site. They often fabricate unique equipment to solve novel problems or improve efficiencies in the field. They have advanced training and maintain certifications in operating dive boats at sea, driving large/oversized or trailered vehicles, and managing formal training programs. The FOS also provide training in their fields of expertise.

Working Conditions

Most FOS positions require a pre-employment physical, depending on the area of assignment. Must be willing to work irregular and/or odd-hour shifts, weekends, and holidays. The work environment involves moderate everyday risks or discomforts that require normal safety precautions typical of crime scenes, offices, meeting and training rooms, residences, aircraft, boats, and commercial facilities. Operations and practical exercises are conducted outdoors in high and low temperature extremes and other adverse weather conditions. Investigative responses and practical exercises can include long periods of travel in aircraft and automobiles with extended periods of outdoor activity. These activities may include long periods of running, prolonged walking, climbing, standing, bending, lifting, and carrying of response equipment.

A portion of the work may also be performed at the sites of high-hazard investigations where there are technical hazards and potential for exposure to hazardous materials, requiring protective measures depending upon the known or potential nature of the hazards. Some of the work may also be conducted in other high-hazard environments to include: confined spaces, structural collapse sites, rope operations, above/below grade elevations, unstable structures, treacherous terrain, excavations, trenches, swift water, open water, and on/around fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

Basic Qualifications

All candidates must be United States citizens. Applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower grade level. Specialized experience is work directly relating to the advertised position. Examples of specialized experience for FOS positions include:

  • Served on a hazardous materials response team. Experience in hazardous materials response including CBRN hazards.
  • Experience in technical operations including rope, confined space, excavations, trenching/shoring, structural shoring, swift water, dive support, maritime, and technical operations tools and equipment.
  • Experience in evidence recovery, preservation procedures, and investigative and operational methods in order to support investigative activities, operations, and training.
  • For positions required to perform medical services, experience in the use of emergency medical care principles, practices, procedures, equipment, and concepts in order to provide emergency medical and/or contingency treatment. National Registered Paramedic Certification is required.

Education may be substituted for specialized experience at the GS-9 (master’s degree) and GS-11 (doctorate degree) levels. All degrees must be from an accredited college or university and must be directly related to the position to be filled.

Note: Please review each job announcement for the specific qualifications and specialized experience.

Management and Program Analyst 

Management and program analysts (MAPAs) perform a variety of program analysis and analytical functions that may require the application of qualitative and quantitative methods to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of work methods, manpower utilization, and similar functions for evaluation of internal organization and/or administrative operations. MAPAs within the Laboratory Division analyze various and complex issues relating to administrative, management, and/or operational programs, such as budget and financial management; compliance management (i.e., inspections and audits); human resource forecasting and planning; facilities management; policy and program development and assessment; records management; strategic planning; and/or training that have a direct impact on unit operations. Although MAPAs are diversely used within the division, all analysts use their research and analytical skills to accomplish their unit’s mission. The basic knowledge and skills required of a MAPA are as follows:

  • Research - Can collect accurate information from traditional and non-traditional sources to solve problems or carry out tasks; conducts management or program initiatives or research that require the ability to consider all aspects of data collection; and has acquired the knowledge of program management disciplines and demonstrated skill in various automated systems to conduct appropriate research.
  • Analysis - Can prepare analysis of data derived from multiple sources, and uses inductive and deductive reasoning to analyze and evaluate relevance, significance, and potential applications of information and draws conclusions and recommends alternatives.
  • Written and oral communication skills - Can organize and express ideas clearly, orally, and in writing in a concise manner; initiates and maintains effective liaison with internal and external entities; and delivers straightforward and/or complex presentations or briefings to a variety of audiences.

Working Conditions

The work is typically performed in an adequately lighted and climate-controlled office. The work is primarily sedentary, although some slight physical effort may be required. Some travel may be required for this position.

Basic Qualifications

All candidates must be United States citizens. Candidates must have at least one year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower level. Specialized experience is defined as experience in communicating clearly and effectively, both orally and in writing; preparing complete, clear, and concise formal and informal reports, correspondence, briefings, charts, tables, and graphs that are distributed; adapting analytical techniques and evaluation criteria to the measurement and improvement of program effectiveness and/or organizational productivity to develop new or modified work methods; and conducting studies, analyzing findings, and making recommendations on operating programs.

Education may be substituted for specialized experience at the GS-7 (bachelor’s degree with a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher), GS-9 (master’s degree), and GS-11 (doctorate degree) levels.

Note: Please review each job announcement for the specific qualifications and specialized experience.

Metallurgist-Forensic Examiner 

The FBI Laboratory is one of only a few crime labs in the world to provide forensic metallurgy services. Metallurgists within the Laboratory Division conduct metallurgical analysis of materials and provide scientific support to FBI investigations. They perform functions such as scientific assessments, interpretation, assisting in crime scene investigations and providing trial testimony as necessary. Metallurgy analyses performed may be comparative in nature and can include assessing elemental composition and physical characteristics to determine if an association can be made between items from a crime scene and from a suspect. In addition to comparative analysis, metallurgists also conduct failure analysis and provide functional determinations. Cases worked tend to involve terrorism and major bombing investigations.

FBI Laboratory Metallurgy Examination Types

  • Identifications: Examinations can determine the possible use for which an object was designed, formed, or manufactured on the basis of the construction and the type of metal. The possible identification of the manufacturer and specific fabricating equipment used to form the object can also be determined.
  • Comparisons: Comparative examinations can determine whether two metals or metallic objects may have come from the same source or from each other. Metal comparisons can identify various surface and microstructural characteristics—including fractured areas, accidental damage, and fabrication marks—to determine whether the objects share a common origin. Moreover, the manufacturing methods used to produce an object can be determined. These manufacturing techniques can include casting, forging, hot and cold rolling, extrusion, drawing, swaging, milling, grinding, spinning, blanking, ironing, deep drawing, and others. Examinations can determine mechanical properties, such as the response of a metal to an applied force or load. Examinations also can determine chemical composition, including alloying and trace elements.
  • Bullet Jacket Alloy Examinations: Alloy classification can often differentiate among the bullet jacket alloys used by manufacturers to produce different varieties of bullets. As such, it can be used to exclude a bullet fragment as having originated from a particular type of ammunition. This analysis is most often helpful when attempting to determine which of a group of shooters may have fired a particular round at a crime scene when the fragment is too mutilated for direct comparison to a firearm.
  • Broken or Mechanically Damaged Metal: The causes of failure or damage—such as the application of stress exceeding the tensile strength or yield limit of the metal; a material or manufacturing defect; or corrosion, cracking, or excessive service usage (fatigue)—can be determined. The magnitude of the force or load that caused the failure, how the force or load was transmitted to the metal, and the direction it was transmitted also can be determined.
  • Burned, Heated, or Melted Metal: Examinations can determine the approximate temperature to which a metal was exposed, the nature of the heat source, and whether a metal was in an electrical short-circuit situation.
  • Cut or Severed Metal: Examinations can determine the method by which a metal was severed, such as sawing, shearing, milling, turning, or thermal cutting. The nature of the thermal source (e.g., burner bar, electric arc welder) used can sometimes be determined.
  • Metal Fragments: Examinations can determine how metal fragments were formed. If fragments were formed by impulsive (short-duration, high strain rate) loading, an examination can determine whether an explosive was detonated and the magnitude of the detonation velocity. The nature of the object that was the source of the fragments often can be determined as well.
  • Specification Fraud and Noncompliant Materials: Metallurgical testing of materials can determine whether inferior components were substituted in contracting frauds. The composition and mechanical properties of materials can be examined to determine if the components meet contractual obligations or appropriate regulatory codes. Precious-metal content also can be determined.
  • Lamp Bulbs: Examinations can determine whether a lamp bulb was incandescent when its glass envelope was broken. Determinations also can be made as to whether a lamp bulb was incandescent when it was subjected to an impact force such as a vehicular collision. Such determinations can be made even if the glass was broken by the impact.
  • Watches, Clocks, and Timers: The conditions causing a watch, clock, timer, or other mechanism to stop or malfunction and whether the time displayed represents a.m. or p.m. (calendar-type timing mechanisms only) can be determined. The on/off condition of appliance timers damaged by a fire or explosion often can be determined.
  • Objects with Questioned Internal Components: X-ray radiography can nondestructively reveal the interior construction and the presence or absence of defects, cavities, or foreign materials. The position of on/off switches and other mechanical components can be determined.

Working Conditions

The work is performed in a laboratory setting and includes inventorying and processing evidence, which requires walking, bending, stretching, crawling, and lifting. Employees may have regular, recurring exposure to hazardous materials, toxic substances, and blood-borne pathogens. Therefore, employees are expected to follow safe laboratory practices and wear protective clothing to include but not limited to facial masks, safety glasses, and gloves, and use fume flow hoods as warranted.

The work can require manual dexterity and flexibility, and some assignments will require considerable, strenuous physical exertion, which may require lifting objects of up to 50 pounds or more. Metallurgists support real time operations and will have to be available for national and international travel. The candidate may be required to testify in court to the results of their examinations.

Basic Qualifications

All candidates must be United States citizens. Candidates must have either (A) successful completion of a four-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in metallurgy, metallurgical engineering, or materials science/engineering that included at least 20 semester hours in metallurgical subjects, or (B) a combination of education and experience—courses equivalent to a major (as shown in A above), plus appropriate experience or additional education.

Forensic examiners (FEs) must sign a Forensic Examiner Training Service Agreement as a condition of employment. FEs must also successfully complete up to a two-year training program necessary for qualification as an FBI forensic examiner. Once qualified, the employee must remain in the FBI Laboratory for two years after the completion of training performing FE duties.

Note: Please review each job announcement for the specific qualifications and specialized experience.

Photographer 

Photographers are critical components within the FBI, providing highly skilled photography support in terms of photographing people, places, and objects. They also work with the full range of evidence examined by the FBI Laboratory—this includes standard documentation of evidentiary items and also unique and novel situations where highly sophisticated equipment and techniques are necessary to properly document the unique characteristics of the evidence.

The Laboratory Division is supported by different photographic disciplines. Some photographers provide photographic and videography support for controlled explosions, documenting the event for evidentiary purposes. Some photographers partner with physical scientists and other experts to create vital images of potentially explosive devices or components at explosive ranges. Photographers in some disciplines provide direct, on-site support at FBI crime scenes—this may include the use of sophisticated equipment and techniques for such things as photographing bullet trajectories or creating spherical products. Other work in the field includes a wide range of photographic support for site surveys and aerial photography.

Photographer - Laboratory

Photographers that perform photographic processing services in forensic photography studios and laboratories use a wide variety of software tools to enhance photographs to meet the needs of the requester. These photographers are highly skilled in processing negatives and developing film and digital images. These photographers may be required to photograph congressional hearings, dignitary functions, special events, and FBI personnel for official portraits, credentials, or passports. Other responsibilities of photographers in this discipline may include scanning, printing, and laminating various products, mounting and labeling a wide range of flat art, and duplicating and labeling CDs and DVDs.

Photographer - Scientific and Technical

Scientific and Technical (S&T) photographers apply specialized photographic technologies to investigations concerning espionage, acts of terrorism, and other criminal and homeland security matters. S&T photographers have different job requirements based on their assigned program specialty.

S&T photographers provide conventional photography and specialized forensic photography techniques in evidence and crime scene documentation; create images of evidence for analysis purposes; capture obliterated and indented writing; and produce 3D microscopic still and video imaging. Photographers within this discipline can also provide high speed video services for the research, demonstration, and investigation purposes of explosives and firearms. They provide direct on-site photographic support for field operations; and provide support and training to FBI offices and other federal, state, local and tribal agencies, as well as foreign governments.

The Laboratory Division also has S&T photographers who can provide direct vertical and oblique aerial photography, aerial mapping, and operational site surveys to include special events, venue photography, and spherical video and photography. The photos can be geo-referenced, which enables the unit to prepare crime scene diagrams, digitally interactive scenes, and scenario reconstruction.

Photographer - Forensic

Forensic photographers within the FBI Laboratory capture detailed images of available latent prints supporting various case-working units within the division. Forensic photographers often work with chemicals, lasers, and light sources to identify and photograph prints from a wide range of evidentiary items, such as questioned documents, weapons, and, in some cases, potential components of terrorist explosive devices or materials at ranges. Photographers within this field produce permanent visual evidentiary records that can be used in court.

Working Conditions

Work conditions will vary from each photographic discipline; however, work is performed primarily in professional laboratory settings, but can be in a variety of often-demanding and uncontrollable conditions, indoors and out, when conducting field assignments. Work will require some physical exertion, such as prolonged standing, stooping, crouching, lifting, and/or carrying heavy equipment often exceeding 50 pounds. Some incumbents may be subjected to working conditions where disease and sanitation issues are uncontrolled, in remote areas, and under less-than-ideal conditions. Tasks may be unscheduled and/or require other than normal working hours.

Basic Qualifications

All candidates must be United States citizens. Candidates must have at least one year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower GS-grade level. This includes experience in operating standard and specialized camera and film processing equipment related to the position to be filled. Knowledge of the subject matter being photographed may also be required for some positions (e.g., crime scene and aerial assignments, or working in an investigative or law enforcement environment). For positions that require a high degree of artistic or creative ability, samples of work or other suitable evidence of technical competence may be required.

Note: Please review each job announcement for the specific qualifications and specialized experience.

Physical Scientist 

Physical scientists play critical roles in a large number of Bureau investigations in supporting the FBI’s mission of protecting the American public. The physical scientist manages a large number of cases, some of which are high profile and/or involve a large volume of evidence. They are responsible for ensuring that each case is managed, processed, and/or examined appropriately and efficiently.

Physical scientist-evidence analysts (EA) are the first to receive evidence from various customers, which include FBI field offices, foreign governments, and other federal, state, local, and tribal agencies. They visually inspect packaging to confirm the accuracy of examination requests and custody paperwork, and determine the nature, priority, and extent of the examination requests. EAs perform a complete inventory of each submission, recognizing and reacting appropriately to safety issues with the evidence.

Physical scientists are responsible for conducting the initial extraction and preservation of evidence submitted to the various scientific disciplines for examination. They utilize a variety of equipment and procedures to prepare the evidence for analysis by physical scientist-forensic examiners (FE). These examiners are responsible for conducting specialized analytical procedures on items, conducting examinations of evidence, and preparing reports and testifying to their findings. FEs can provide on-site technical support at investigative crime scenes where they assist with searches, as well as the identification, collection, preservation, and preparation of evidence for shipping. 

There are 13 diverse physical scientist disciplines within the Laboratory Division, including, but not limited to, evidence handling and processing, hair and fibers, anthropology, latent fingerprints, firearms and toolmarks, and explosives. 

  • Anthropology: Examine whole bones or items that are believed to be human bones.
  • Explosives: Conduct extensive testing and training at explosive ranges. They routinely handle explosives and conduct visual examinations using stereomicroscopes and other unique procedures.
  • Firearms/Toolmarks: Routinely handle many types of firearms and other tools and conduct visual examinations using stereomicroscopes and other unique procedures. Their essential tasks also include detailed visual analysis and examination of the full range of toolmarks on various types of evidence. 
  • Hair and Fibers: Extract and preserve trace evidence from larger evidence items, then prepare and examine the trace evidence using stereomicroscopes. They then compare these specimens to items extracted from other scenes or from known samples to determine possible associations.
  • Latent Prints: Conduct sophisticated visual analyses of fingerprints using advanced photography software and work in federal computer databases that store fingerprint information. 

Working Conditions

The work is performed in an adequately lighted, climate-controlled office and/or laboratory setting, which may involve periodic exposure to hazardous materials, toxic substances, human remains, and blood-borne pathogens. Another portion of the work is performed at the sites of investigations where there is potential for exposure to hazardous materials, requiring protective measures including the wearing of personal protective equipment. Incumbent is expected to follow all applicable safety procedures. Incumbents also are required to pass a pre-employment physical examination. Occasional national and/or international travel may be required.

Basic Qualifications

All candidates must be United States citizens. Physical scientist candidates must have either (A) successful completion of a four-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in physical science, biology, chemistry, engineering, or mathematics that included 24 semester hours in physical science and/or related engineering science such as mechanics, dynamics, properties of materials, and electronics; or, (B) a combination of education and experience—education equivalent to one of the majors shown in (A) above that included at least 24 semester hours in the above areas and/or related engineering science, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

Forensic examiners must sign a Forensic Examiner Training Service Agreement as a condition of employment. FEs must also successfully complete up to a two-year training program necessary for qualification as an FBI forensic examiner. Once qualified, the employee must remain in the FBI Laboratory for two years after the completion of training performing FE duties.

In addition to meeting the basic educational qualification requirements, applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower GS-grade level. Specialized experience is work in physical science performed in a forensic laboratory setting, which includes successful analysis of a range of evidence samples.

Education may be substituted for specialized experience at the GS-7 (bachelor’s degree with a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher), GS-9 (master’s degree), and GS-11 (doctorate degree) levels.

Note: Please review each job announcement for the specific qualifications and specialized experience.

Visual Information Specialist 

Visual information specialists (VISs) within the Laboratory Division perform various duties depending on their area of assignment, to include one or more of the following functions:  

  • Provide graphic and physical modeling products supporting a full range of investigatory and prosecutorial operations.
  • Create technical diagrams, demonstrative exhibits, special equipment and apparatus, and forensic facial imaging.
  • Provide expert testimony and direct on-site support in the field including crime scenes and locations of major events to provide models, graphics, and other aids depicting the scene.
  • Provide support and training for customers of the FBI Laboratory, which includes FBI field offices, foreign governments, and other federal, state, local, and tribal agencies.

There are three major disciplines within the Laboratory Division’s VIS job series:

Multimedia, Art and Design Program (MADP)

VISs in the Multimedia, Art and Design Program work in an office setting, as well as travel to support field investigations. They design and produce graphic products such as infographics, investigative aids, and technical illustrations, and support criminal trials as needed. These projects often include the creation and manipulation of very complex animations and interactive features. They also provide direct, on-site support at crime scenes to include collecting detailed measurements and other physical characteristics of materials and objects at the scene. This can include a broad range of situations, such as mass shootings, confined spaces, rural areas, and post-blast scenes. Some VISs are forensic artists, which includes hand-drawing features or retouching photographs on a computer to depict human faces with precise features, used to identify unknown persons.

Technical Design and Documentation Program (TDDP)

VISs in the Technical Design and Documentation Program work in offices and fabrication shops at the FBI Laboratory, as well as travel to support field investigations. Three-dimensional products produced by these VISs can be either physical or digital. Physical products are made at a variety of scales and using a wide array of materials, including wood, vinyl, and glass. All scale models are highly accurate and are representations of either a structure or outdoor location. They also replicate various objects, such as evidence items, vehicles, human bones, and skulls. These VISs provide direct, on-site support at crime scenes in the field, where they work with others to collect detailed measurements and other physical characteristics of materials and objects at the scene. Crime scenes in the field can include a broad range of situations, such as mass shootings, confined spaces, rural areas, and post-blast scenes. The VISs provide support for total station mapping as well as laser scanning at crime scenes and venues in preparation for special events. Some VISs also provide GIS support by producing geo-referenced products.

Anthropology Program

VISs in the Anthropology Program work primarily in offices and forensic laboratories at the Laboratory Division. They create clay or resin models of human faces based on intact or, sometimes, pieces of unidentified skulls. They also reconstruct facial features of decomposed or partially-decomposed human remains from photographs to an ante-mortem state. They provide this support to a wide range of customers of the FBI Laboratory.

Working Conditions

VISs travel to outdoor locations, which expose the employee to all types of weather conditions. The site survey of crime scenes may involve a large geographic area, which may expose the employee to insects, snakes, automobile traffic, and high crime areas. Exposure to hazardous materials requires that employee wear bulky protective clothing. Work also requires the ability to lift and carry 50 pounds of equipment. Workshop conditions require that protective eye glasses, steel-toed shoes, respiratory filters, and ear auditory protection be worn. Work performed in an office setting requires sitting, standing, stooping, and working with printing equipment.

Basic Qualifications

All candidates must be United States citizens. Applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower GS-grade level. Specialized experience is work directly relating to the advertised position. Examples of specialized experience for Laboratory Division positions include:

  • Preparation and use of photographs, illustrations, drawings, and other art work, charts, diagrams, dioramas, maps, slides, overlays, and other kinds of visual material for use in communicating information through visual means.
  • Design and development of visual presentations or products.
  • Conceptualize layouts using computer-aided design systems.
  • Fabricate products with wood, plastic, and/or metal components.
  • Design products or exhibits based upon architectural standards.
  • Prepare detailed drawings, collect topographic and terrestrial data, and post processed total station laser surveying and/or terrestrial laser scanning data.

Education may be substituted for specialized experience at the GS-9 (master’s degree) and GS-11 (doctorate degree) levels. All degrees must be from an accredited college or university and must be directly related to the position to be filled. Degrees should include one of the following as a major study: commercial art, fine arts, art history, industrial design, architecture, drafting, interior design, photography, visual communication, or other fields related to the position.

Note: Please review each job announcement for the specific qualifications and specialized experience.