Crime scene technicians (also known as forensic science technicians) are responsible for detecting, collecting, and preserving physical evidence at a crime scene. Forensic scientists, meanwhile, analyze that evidence in the lab. These titles are sometimes interchangeable, but both point to forensic science, which is used at and after the crime scene to gather evidence and analyze it for its use as evidence.
Forensic scientists analyze physical crime scene evidence including fingerprints, hair, fiber, or glass. Often, they specialize in areas such as DNA analysis or firearm examination, performing tests on weapons or on substances such as fiber, hair, tissue, and body fluids to determine their significance to an investigation.
Forensic scientists also prepare reports to document their findings and the laboratory techniques they used. And they are often called to give testimony in court as expert witnesses to identify and classify substances critical to a criminal case.
Crime scene technicians may carry a certificate, associate, or bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field. Forensic scientists usually need a bachelor's degree, which often includes courses not only in criminology but also legal proceedings.