Firearms Examiner

By Jacob Tosi

Job Description

A firearms examiner is an expert on the behavior, physics, and effects of weapons and ammunition. Their responsibilities are to gather and analyze evidence related to weapons and ammunition. The firearms examiners need to take samples, photos and collect evidence to determine what type of weapon was used, where it was fired and other information related to the crime. The firearms examiners also deal with explosives, bullet fragments, bullet holes and victims' wounds.
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Working Conditions

Most of the time, firearms examiners are not needed at the crime scene. This is because they are filling out reports of all examinations of evidence which include the description of the weapon and ammunition, and results of the test firings. Firearms examiners work 40 hour schedules and they may be on call 24 hours a day. They are also respond to crime scenes when needed, conduct more tests to solve crimes and does extensive reading on the new practices of the firearms examiners.
Firearms Examiner

Training and Education Requirements

To become a firearms examiner, you will need a bachelor's degree in Forensics where you will be in school for 4 years. After you will have to complete an internship at crime laboratory. Then programs will require your to receive training and expertise in ammunition, weaponry and projectiles. After being hired, they will require you to have on-the-job training which will last up to 3 years. Finally, after your training is complete, you will take a proficiency exam before starting to conduct independent work.

Personal Characteristics

To be a Firearms Examiner, you have to be able to problem solve, do a lot of writing and be self managed. Also, you need to be trustworthy, detail-oriented,cooperative and patient.

Earnings and Job Outlook

On average firearms examiners make $55,660 a year for salary. Firearms Examiners are employed by public and private crime laboratories. In the U.S., there are 400 publicly funded crime labs. Job openings will become available when individuals retire, transfer to other jobs or advance to hire positions. Also, agencies will create more additional positions if they have the funds to do it. Finding jobs openings will become more tough because of the increasing number of individuals going into the forensic science field.

Education Spotlight

These are 3 schools that offer a forensic science program.


Echaore-McDavid, Susan, and Richard A. McDavid. Career Opportunities in Forensic Science. New York: Ferguson, 2008. Print.