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Fingerprint officer

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Fingerprint officers check and compare fingerprints taken from crime scenes.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £16,000 to £35,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 per week

1. Entry requirements

Each police service sets its own entry requirements. 

You’ll usually need a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including maths, English and a science subject. Some services may ask for A levels or equivalent.

Experience of working in the police, analytical work or work involving attention to detail will be useful.

Police services will carry out checks into your background and employment history. This might also include checking on your close family members. A criminal record may not always prevent you from being employed in the police service but you must declare any convictions. 

The College of Policing has more information on working for the police.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • a patient and methodical approach
  • organisational skills
  • excellent attention to detail
  • a logical approach to solving problems
  • keyboard and IT skills
  • the ability to prioritise and manage your workload

3. What you'll do

You’ll work with others in the police to process and identify prints.

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • comparing crime scene prints with those of suspects
  • scanning police fingerprint forms into the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System 
  • comparing fingerprints against the National Fingerprint Database to produce a list of likely matches
  • analysing prints and marks to uncover links between crime scenes
  • eliminating prints found at the scene of people not under suspicion
  • classifying records and maintaining fingerprint databases
  • preparing evidence statements and presenting evidence in court
  • attending crime scenes to offer specialist advice
  • getting fingerprint samples from the deceased at the morgue

You might also be involved in mentoring and developing trainee fingerprint officers.

4. Salary

Starter: £16,000 to £21,000

Experienced: £24,500 to £31,500

Highly Experienced: up to £35,000 (senior or supervisory role)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 37 hours a week, including shifts, weekends and an on-call rota.

You’ll spend most of your time in a laboratory or at the service's fingerprint bureau.

Aspects of your work could be distressing or unpleasant.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could become a scenes of crime officer (SOCO).

With further training you could move into forensic science or become a criminal intelligence officer.

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Last updated: 11 September 2018