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Certification Program Overview
Certification is a voluntary process of peer review by which a practitioner is recognized for attaining the professional qualifications necessary to practice in one or more disciplines of criminalistics.
The American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) was formed by a majority of the nation’s forensic science associations to establish a certification process. The ABC Board is comprised of representatives from these forensic organizations. Your forensic representatives can answer any questions which you may have regarding the certification process.Objectives
Areas of Testing
Following acceptance of a completed application, candidates must pass an examination which tests subject areas of criminalistics including:
Study guides consisting of sample questions, bibliography and knowledge, skills and abilities are available for each examination. (See below)
All ABC examinations are three hours in length and consist of 220 multiple choice questions (a few are multiple-multiple choice), 200 of which will be scored, and 20 which are being piloted for future examinations. The questions are divided 60-40%, general to specialty questions except for the Comprehensive Criminalistics Examination which is 100% drawn from the areas of law, safety, ethics and all disciplines in a crime laboratory.
There are two levels of certification that can be attained: Diplomate and Fellow.
Diplomate (D-ABC) - >> Study Guide
Certification as a Diplomate of the ABC, denoted by the designation D-ABC, is awarded to individuals with a BS/BA in a natural science, two years of forensic laboratory or teaching experience and upon successful completion of any ABC Examination. The examinations are: Comprehensive Criminalistics Examination (CCE), Drug Analysis (DA), Molecular Biology (MB), Fire Debris Analysis (FD), Trace Evidence- Hairs and Fibers (THF) and Trace Evidence – Paints and Polymers (TPP). The CCE is a comprehensive examination covering all disciplines found in a crime laboratory as well as the areas of safety and ethics. Diplomate status is designed for laboratory directors, supervisors, educators, or where Specialty Examinations have not been planned or developed, (e.g. explosives, soils, etc.) or those no longer able to maintain the proficiency testing requirement for their Fellow status.
Fellow (F-ABC) - >> Study Guide
Certification as a Fellow of the ABC, denoted by the designation F-ABC, is awarded to successful completion of any of the ABC examinations, successful performance on a proficiency test, and a minimum of two years experience in the specialty area. The specialty areas currently covered are Molecular Biology, Drug Analysis, Fire Debris Analysis and Trace Evidence – Hairs and Fibers and Trace Evidence – Paint and Polymers. An ABC Fellow certificate signifies that the analyst is qualified to conduct examinations in the specialty area.
An individual who meets all requirements for certification except for the two year forensic laboratory or teaching experience may sit for any examination and upon successful completion of the examination they become “Certification Eligible” until they complete their two years experience in the specialty tested.
The certification is valid for five years. All certificates will expire on the fifth anniversary of the Diplomate or Fellow Certificate. Recertification can be accomplished by continued participation in the field of Forensic Sciences through training, casework, publishing, etc. or by retesting. Fellows must successfully participate in annual proficiency testing.