What is a Forensic Sketch Artist? How To Become A Forensic Sketch Artist

Forensic Science Career Guide

What is a Forensic Sketch Artist? How to become

a Forensic Sketch Artist All You Need To Know

Forensic artists are the helping hands for law enforcement agencies. They draw the sketches of the suspects and help the law enforcement agencies identify the suspects. A forensic artist draws the visuals to create the image of the suspect, and this image will help law enforcement agencies identify the suspects whenever they see them.

Traditionally speaking, forensic artists were the only means of catching the criminals, and the imagery drawn by the forensic artists was circulated in the intelligence circles of the agency. The forensic artists used analogy paper and pencil sketches to draw the sketch of a suspected criminal. These sketches were drawn with the help of someone who had seen the suspects. This was an individual who was a victim or a witness of the crime scene most of the time.

A forensic sketch artist needs to have excellent probing skills. These probing skills help make the forensic sketch by asking the witness or the victim questions. Forensic sketch artists are specialized in getting verbal information from the witness and then rightfully expressing the information in the form of imagery. This imagery is beneficial for law enforcement agencies. Once the imagery is made, the agencies spread them in their intelligence circles and publish them so that the public can help in identifying the culprits of an event.

The forensic arts is a unique technique learned after years of practice. The forensic artists are either employed by law enforcement agencies or work as freelancers for various law enforcement agencies. Freelancers are not permanent employees of the agency. Instead, they are available on telephonic calls, and they assist the agencies whenever a sketch is required. Forensic artists are usually bachelor’s degree holders with specializations in arts, criminal justice, or computer sciences.

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The forensic artist’s definition can be derived from their work. Generally speaking, there are three main disciplines in the field of forensic artistry.

  • Composite art or imagery
  • Postmortem or facial reconstruction
  • Image modification and enhancement

The composite art or imagery deals with the image drawing. In this discipline, the composite artist has to draw the visuals by asking probing questions to witness the crimes. The information revealed by the witness is then used for drawing the images to identify the culprit.

The Postmortem or facial reconstruction deals with drawing facial images on computer software. Most often, they also deal with the clay and construct suspects’ faces through clay.

The image modification and enhancement deal with modifying the images. This discipline is primarily helpful for the people who are looking for lost individuals.


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The career outlook for Forensic Sketch Artist          

Forensic artistry is beneficial for law enforcement agencies; it helps them identify unknown suspects so that they can arrest them and initiate legal proceedings against them. The forensics artist mostly works with the law enforcement agencies, and either they are permanent employees of the agencies, or they offer their services as freelancers.

how-to-become-a-forensic-artistIn both cases, forensic artists make good money. According to the bureau of labor statistics, the expected growth in law enforcement careers is up to 5 percent in the coming years. As per the prediction, 37,500 new openings are expected in the upcoming years. These statistics show that there is going to be considerable demand for forensic artists in the upcoming years. If you aspire to become a part of the law enforcement agencies, you must immediately start learning forensic art.

How to become a Forensic Sketch Artist

There are four steps involved in becoming a forensic sketch artist. We shall discuss them one by one. Make sure to go through every section so that you can get all the information regarding the career path of forensic artistry. By now, you must have understood what a forensic artist is and what a forensic artist does. It is now time to discuss the steps to become a forensic artist so that you can follow them and make progress in your career. So, let us jump straight to the steps without any further due.

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Graduate from a high school

The first step is to pursue your education and complete a high school diploma. While you are completing your college degree, make sure to take as many courses as possible, and this course shall be related to your career path. Computer sciences, arts, anatomy, and physiology are some of the courses which are going to be super beneficial for you.

Having a grip on a foreign language is always a plus. You will have the edge over your coworkers, and you can use this edge for your benefit. For example, while interviewing a foreigner whose first language is not English, you will always be in an advantageous position.

Undergraduate or professional training program

If you are admiring becoming a forensic artist, you are advised to pursue a two-year associate degree or a four-year college degree. This will help you advance in your career and land your desired positions. Computer skills and artistry are the skills you must emphasize, and if there are courses taught on these subjects, you must focus on both of the courses.

There is not any specific degree that will lead you to this career. However, a degree in arts or criminal justice is going to be beneficial for you if you are willing to pursue your career as a sketch artist.

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Get enrolled in the Sketch artist training program

The training programs are essential to becoming a successful sketch artist; most of the sketch artists have enrolled themselves in these training programs. The forensic art training will enable you to become an expert in your field. Typically the training will teach you how to probe the individuals and use the provided information in your favor.

Gain Experience

You are encouraged to gain professional experience. This experience can be acquired by working on different projects. The more diversified portfolio you have, the better are your chances of advancement in your career. You are advised to work on as many projects as possible at the begging of your career. This will enhance your portfolio and give you chances to polish your skills and get expertise with your profession.

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Salary of Forensic Sketch Artists

You might also be wondering how much does a forensic artist make. There is no fixed salary for forensic sketch artists, as there are many things involved in this career. Therefore, the salary expectations for this career also vary. Educational degrees, years of experience, and the workplace matter a lot when it comes to the salary of Sketch artists. For example, an individual with a forensic art degree is likely to get paid with a higher salary than someone working without a degree. Secondly, the more experienced an individual is, the more likely he/she is to get a higher amount of salaries.

forensic-artistThe bureau of labor statistics has revealed a rough salary for forensic sketch artists. According to the figures, the average annual salary of a forensic sketch artist is 48,960 USD. The forensic sketch artist’s salary is quite handsome, and individuals who choose this career path are likely to end up making a good life. If the salary of is forensic sketch officer is compared with that of a police officer, there is not much difference between the two.

As mentioned earlier, educational degrees play many roles in the forensic artist’s salary. An individual with a high school diploma is likely to get lesser pay as compared to someone who has a university degree. Another essential factor is certifications. Having proof of certifications will help you advance in your career, and you will quickly get promotions. Make sure you choose the proper certifications that help you land at advanced positions.

The table below shows how much does experience impacts your salary.

Position Years of ExperienceSalary Per Hour
Entry LevelLess than one year$ 14.87
Early careerOne to four Years$18.54
Mid-careerFive to nine years$20.46
ExperiencedTen to nineteen years$21.74
Late- CareerTwenty or more years of Experience$24.37

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