Forensic & Sketch Artist Jobs

If you have ever seen CSI or any other cop show, you’ve probably seen a forensic or sketch artist at work. After the initial interview with a detective, the forensic artist interviews the victim or witness of a crime. Their job is to get an accurate description of the criminal and sketch a precise and detailed caricature of the person. After approval from the witness or victim, this is what law enforcement uses to search for their suspect.

Forensic artists play a key role in criminal investigations. By accurately communicating with witnesses and victims they can create an anatomically correct, proportioned drawing of the suspect’s face. It is a process that takes lots of skill and needs lots of practice to become an expert.

The drawings and sketches produced by a forensic artist lead law enforcement to suspects. Their works may be used in the initial manhunt or in a criminal’s final conviction. This is why accurate drawing skills, clean records, and honest personalities are key to this job.

While forensic artists are never going to be famous for their work, their work has a very good possibility of being seen worldwide. Everybody has seen the work of a sketch artist at some point. It may be posted on the wall of the local post office, next to an article in the local paper, on America’s Most Wanted, or even on CNN. A detailed, accurate sketch can lead to the apprehension of some terrible criminals. You may remember one of the world’s more famous sketches was that of the Unabomber. FYI, other types of jobs in the law enforcement field are covered elsewhere on JobMonkey.

Sketch artists work for a variety of employers. State agencies, government groups, police forces, airport security, or other forms of law enforcement usually employ forensic artists, After a crime is committed, witnesses and victims are often able to recall the features of the person who committed the crime. A traumatic experience causes the details of a criminal’s face to be etched into memory. This allows witnesses to give accurate details during an interview with the sketch artist. Communicating with a distraught victim is important, as is having the patience to deal with multiple changes to a drawing to get the most accurate depiction.

Forensic artists have a strong ability to do composite drawings of suspects. Beyond this skill they are also able to do both two and three dimensional facial reconstruction, image enhancement of individuals and crime scenes, computer generated images, enhance images for age progressions and disguises, and use identikit software to create the most accurate images of suspects.

While no formal education is necessary to be a forensic artist, most jobs will require experience. Many forensic artists have degrees in art or criminal justice. Often they have completed FBI forensic art courses or have been certified as a Forensic Artist by the Forensic Art Certification Board.

The most important requirement for the job is drawing skills.

Forensic artist jobs are increasing. If you are interested in jobs, check with local agencies that you want to work for. This way you will know what is required to get the job. If your heart is set on being a forensic artist, there is more work in bigger agencies and larger cities. Often forensic artists work as independent contractors or freelancers before they land a full time job with benefits. Forensic artists can plan to make between $14 and $29 an hour depending on experience and location.

As a quality forensic artist, you can sleep easy at night knowing that your work is keeping criminals off the street. Fame usually comes in mysterious ways, but who knows, maybe an image you draw will put an end to a nationwide manhunt or be on news channels worldwide.

Quick Facts About Forensic Artist Work

Job Title: Forensic Artist / Sketch Artist
Office: Crime Scenes, Law enforcement agencies
Description: Using detailed verbal descriptions to recreate accurate images
Certifications/Education: No formal education required, Certificate in Forensic Art, Degree in Art or Criminal Justice is highly recommended
Necessary Skills: Communication, Drawing
Potential Employers: Law enforcement agencies – Police, FBI, Airport Security
Pay: $14 to $30 per hour

Helpful Links:
International Association for Identification
IdentiKit
Forensic Artist
FBI Forensic Facial Imaging Course

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