DEA Fingerprint Specialist Careers

The Drug Enforcement Administration relies on some of the scientific community’s most accomplished fingerprint specialists to recover evidence from crime scenes that can identify narcotics dealers and traffickers.  Fingerprint specialists are highly trained forensic scientists who enter residences, crime scenes and incident areas to analyze items for latent fingerprints.  While it is possible to recover a whole print, in most cases, only partial fingerprints are actually.  Finger specialists’ technical expertise is devoted to identifying potential fingerprint fragments and recovering enough to make a positive identification.

Sponsored Content

Once the partial or incomplete print has been lifted and returned to the laboratory, the fingerprint specialist must analyze it until it is able to produce enough markers to match with fingerprints in federal and international databases. Once a positive match has been made, fingerprint specialists provide the information to DEA investigators. In many cases, fingerprint specialists must also present their findings to the courts.

DEA Fingerprint Specialist Job Description

DEA fingerprint specialist jobs require the following competencies:

  • Monitor and isolate a crime scene to preserve residual fingerprints
  • Direct field operatives in fingerprint recovery methods for high risk areas
  • Use a variety of chemical and electromagnetic methods for identifying and collecting fingerprints
  • Analyze fingerprints to correlate the minimum number of points with prints on record
  • Testify in court as to the reliability of a fingerprint analysis
  • Provide recommendations to managers and investigators derived from fingerprint evidence

How to Become a DEA Fingerprint Specialist

DEA fingerprint specialist job applicants should initially find a job opening on and follow the link to the Office of Personnel Management. Applicants should complete the preliminary questionnaire basic qualifications.  Basic requirements for fingerprint specialist jobs:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Be able to pass a background security investigation
  • Be able to pass a drug test

The DEA is looking for well-educated and experienced forensic scientists who have prior knowledge of:

  • Writing laboratory reports
  • Testifying during legal proceedings
  • Recovering fingerprints, partials and imperfect samples
  • Operation of sophisticated laboratory techniques and equipment to analyze prints

If the candidate satisfies these requirements they will be asked to complete a written exam assessing college level knowledge of science, reading and mathematics.  A structured interview with DEA personnel will be conducted as well as a thorough background investigation.  A medical evaluation will be administered as well as a polygraph examination.

If hired, fingerprint specialists will be required to attend a training program at the DEA Training Academy.  This introductory program will cover various topics including:

  • Ethics
  • Evidence management
  • Analytical procedures
  • Instrument operation and techniques
  • Court procedures

DEA Fingerprint Specialist Salary

Fingerprints specialists can earn some of the highest salaries in the DEA.  A recent job posting listed the annual salary for fingerprint specialists from $105,211 up to $136,771, which is consistent with a GS-14 pay grade.  There may be other positions available for less qualified fingerprint specialists at lower pay grades.  The entering salary is contingent upon education, professional experience, and prior knowledge of job related duties.

Back to Top