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State of Washington Classified Job Specification


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Class Code: 505E
Category: Science & Engineering

Class Series Concept

See Forensic Scientist 1.


Serves as a forensic technical lead in a specific discipline or functional area of forensic science in a crime laboratory and performs complex analyses on physical evidence. This involves casework where applied research, method modification, or a unique approach may be necessary; or a single definite conclusion is not possible and a weighted conclusion is warranted; or casework requiring the reconstruction of an event or series of events based upon the interpretation of physical evidence.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Maintains control over the technical operations of a forensic laboratory or section within a specific discipline or functional areas such as chemistry, biology, DNA, microanalysis, firearms and toolmarks, questioned documents, latent prints, toxicology, and crime scene investigations. Technical leads focus on maintaining the crime laboratory’s quality processes and ensuring operational compliance with all certification, accreditation, and legal standards and requirements. These positions have the authority to stop casework processes if a problem occurs and the accountability for quality of the casework product, compliance with all applicable accreditation and audit criteria, compliance documentation, validation of new technology and methods, validation of new personnel beginning the casework, and investigation of casework errors and implementation of corrective measures. This differs from the traditional concept of a lead worker who performs the same or similar duties as other employees in his/her work group and assigns, instructs, and checks the work of employees.

Typical Work

Provides forensic technical leadership to a group of forensic scientists working in a specific discipline or functional area of a crime laboratory;

Assists the appointing authority with recruiting, selecting, and hiring qualified personnel to serve as forensic scientists;

Assists with training new personnel, monitoring their progress, and facilitating statewide consistency in training programs;

Facilitates technical seminars and lectures on relevant forensic science topics;

Administers and documents competency tests and proficiency tests for section personnel;

Communicates and implements quality assurance measures aimed at ensuring the section’s personnel and work product meet or exceed all applicable quality assurance, certification, accreditation, and legal standards and requirements;

Documents and maintains section compliance with all certification, accreditation, and legal standards and requirements;

Develops and validates process improvements for enhanced quality, productivity, and effectiveness;

Advises staff and management on matters affecting quality and the technical aspects within a forensic discipline or functional area;

Identifies and communicates the technical resources needed in their chosen forensic discipline or functional area;

Provides leadership in the development and maintenance of technical procedures, technical procedures manuals, and technical training manuals;

Monitors and documents method validation;

Monitors and documents instrument validation, calibration, and repair;

Performs root cause analysis aimed at addressing errors, discrepancies, and technical problems in casework;

Provides detailed reports and recommendations regarding technical problems, errors, and discrepancies in casework;

Monitors grant-funded section activities for compliance with grant stipulations;

Maintains the compliance documentation required for grant programs;

Assists management with writing and submitting proposals for grant funding;

Participates in federal grant audit activities;

Provides peer review and participates in proficiency testing to maintain technical expertise;

Documents and protects evidence according to laboratory procedures, ensuring that the chain of custody is maintained;

Reports findings in the form of a written laboratory report based on the interpretation of observations and analytical results;

Participates in a forensic examination self-study program to remain current in the field and improve supervisory skills;

May respond to requests for assistance at crime scenes;

Testifies as an expert witness in a court of law.

Knowledge and Abilities

Knowledge of: the physical sciences; principles embraced in the scientific method; theory and practice of forensic science as it relates to the chosen discipline; theory and operation of analytical instrumentation; theory and use of analytical techniques; theory and application of comparative methods and strategies; rules of evidence; principles involved with teaching, coaching, and mentoring technical personnel; division and agency goals and objectives and strategic plans; all applicable quality assurance, certification, accreditation, and legal standards and requirements needed for the proper delivery of forensic science services. 

Ability to: interpret scientific data and form appropriate conclusions supported by the data; prepare clear and concise written scientific reports containing conclusions and supporting data; see the forensic implications of a specific case beyond the requested examinations; testify as an expert witness in courts of law regarding opinions and conclusions; demonstrate honesty, integrity, reliability, fairness, and objectivity; clearly communicate and effectively implement quality assurance goals and objectives; comprehend and follow oral and written instructions; demonstrate sound technical leadership and decision making; work cooperatively in a team setting; stay focused, take initiative, and craft solutions to problems; teach, coach, and mentor technical personnel; perform root cause analysis and prepare written reports and recommendations related to errors, discrepancies, and technical problems in casework; demonstrate respect and tolerance for others in a diverse work environment; review, edit, and proofread work and the work of others; link quality assurance goals and objectives to division and agency strategic plans.

Legal Requirement(s)

There may be instances where individual positions must have additional licenses or certification. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the appropriate licenses/certifications are obtained for each position.

Desirable Qualifications

Positions typically require a Bachelor of Science degree in forensic science, natural science, or closely related field which includes a minimum of 20 semester hours or 30 quarter hours of chemistry and 5 semester or 8 quarter hours of physics,


Five years of technical experience in a forensic science laboratory performing analyses of physical evidence and testifying as an expert witness in courts of law.

Note:  For DNA positions, applicants must have successfully completed at least one undergraduate or graduate level course in each of the following subjects: biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology.

Note:  This class satisfies the requirements of the International Standards Organization (ISO) 17025 for technical leadership.

Class Specification History

New class adopted August 16, 2007, effective August 17, 2007.
Salary Adjustment, adopted 6/30/2015, effective 7/1/2015.
Base range salary adjustment adopted 6/30/2017, effective 7/1/2017.