How to Become a Forensic Document Examiner: Helpful Tips

By | April 8, 2016
How to become a forensic document examiner

If you are interested in helping to resolve dispute over authenticity of documents, becoming a forensic document examiner is a good choice.

How to Become a Forensic Document Examiner Helpful Tips

Are you thinking of becoming a forensic document examiner? If yes, here are useful tips to guide you into the career:

What is forensic document examination?

Forensic document examination is all about analyzing and comparing questioned documents with known materials in other to ascertain the author of the document.

Documents in form of hand writing, hand printing, typewriting, and commercial printing; photocopies and inks are compared with known materials for the sole aim of establishing their authenticity, and also in detecting alterations where they exist.

Nearly all transactions come with written documentation, which also comes with the tendency of some people to be fraudulent, either by forgery or preparation of deceptive documents.

Other things forensic document experts look at in documents are tracery and freehand attempts, differences in depth and style of imprisoned key strokes where necessary, signature differences, and if intimidation or force was applied in documentation.

The need for document examination has been around for a very long time, but it was within the 20th century that an organization, the American Board for Forensic Data Examiner, was formally established, which encouraged the practice of modern document examination using scientific means.

As science begins to shape the realities of the workplace, forensic document examiners may make use of computers and other equipment for micro analysis to make their work easier.

Misconceptions about forensic document examiners

It is very easy to think forensic document analysts are graphologists. Graphology, or graph-analysis attempts to predict the traits of characters from written exams, while forensic document analysis involves questioning the authenticity of and comparing of questioned documents in other to identify its origin or author; it includes looking into all methods of forgery carried out on documents and even materials in which the documents in printed upon.

Educational requirements and training to become a forensic document examiner

While there are no college degrees that qualifies you to be formally trained as a forensic document examiner, a college degree and masters in the natural sciences like literature and chemistry can put you on the way to achieving a career in this field, especially with a guided training/internship from an expert forensic document examiner, which may last for upwards of two years.

The American Board of Forensic Document Examiners (ABFDE) and a number of other professional associations recommend a baccalaureate degree alongside some lab work.
Further experiences can be gotten from internship with consulting companies on this field.

Forensic document examiner certifications

The body of Forensic Document Examiners (BFDE) offer a voluntary certification program for candidates who must pass the examination through a written test, as well as a demonstration of practical skills and abilities in forensic document analysis.

The certificate awarded has a 5 year validity and is renewable. Qualification for certification includes:

  • A Baccalaureate degree
  • A full time training in a recognized document lab
  • A full time practice of forensic document examination.

Do note that only the American Board of Forensic Document Examiner is licensed to qualify candidates for Forensic Document jobs.

Other recognized organizations for Document Forensic Examiners include:

  • American Academy of Forensic Science (Questioned Documents Section) (AAFS)
  • American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (AASQDE)
  • Mid-western Association of Forensic Science (Questioned Documents Section) (MAFS)
  • South Western Association of Forensic Document Examiners (SWAFDE).

Roles, responsibilities, and duties of forensic document examiner

Forensic document examiners have the expertise to look at a document to determine its authenticity whenever such documents come into question.

They also present reports on a number of documents under contention, such as wills, medical records, deeds, income tax, tickets, contracts, and loans and agreements; election petitions, checks, and even anonymous written documents, in a law court where necessary.

Forensic document examination is a knowledge which benefits lawyers and law enforcement officers by way of providing meaningful insight to pursuing suspects and cross examining opposing experts.

Accuracy, authenticity and authorship are the three distinctive areas any forensic document examiner focuses on while working on a document

Forensic document examiner skills

The requisite skills for a forensic examiner include an eye for details, and the ability to notice differences between similar items, such as handwritings, ink, and paper.

Career opportunities for forensic document examiners

These experts are typically exposed to office and laboratories working for private investigators, law firms and local, state and federal government agencies like law enforcement offices.

A lot of hard work and study is required in the field of forensic document analysis and contacts can be built by networking, which is usually started during the training period.

Forensic document examiner salary expectations

Growth in this area is expected to be at 6 percent increase by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and since there are no formal data available on annual earnings, forensic document experts can earn between the ranges of $35,000 to $102,000 annually.