Ballistics Expert

Occupation Information table
Overview: Ballistics experts test guns and spent bullets in criminal cases to prove guilt or innocence of crime suspects. They make microscopic comparisons between gun barrel flaws and the bullets found at a crime scene. They analyze bullet shots, angles and gun powder to determine their source.
Duties: Ballistics experts examine bullets, bullet fragments, cartridge clips, gun powder stains, shot patterns and firearms evidence found at the scene of a crime or in a suspect's possession.

They test fire weapons to determine if a specific weapon was used in a crime by microscopic comparisons of test bullets with bullets found at the crime scene.

They conduct experiments with weapons to determine the location from which bullets were fired by studying the angle at which a bullet hit a person or an object.

Ballistics experts prepare reports and testify in court as expert witnesses using artwork, photographs and examples of how a weapon was used by the suspect during the crime.

Degree(s): A.S./B.S. QCC/John Jay Dual/Joint Sciences for Forensics 
Job Outlook: Employment in this field is projected to grow 14% or higher from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the average projected growth for all occupations.
Salary Range (National Average): $38,000 to $42,000
Growth: Growth
Education Level: Typically, a Bachelor’s Degree from a 4-year college (some are 5 years) is required to be considered for this occupation.
Additional Training/Education: A bachelor's degree in physics coupled with an interest and additional coursework in chemistry and criminal justice is the appropriate educational preparation for this occupation. An associate degree may qualify you for assistant positions. Specialized training programs in ballistics must also be completed which are offered by Federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and also in state crime laboratories.
Advancement Info: Advancement depends on experience and knowledge of forensic testing. Law enforcement agencies have designated levels for promotion. Technicians begin at a trainee level and advance as they gain skills. Experienced technicians can advance to lead worker or supervisor. Some may advance to an administrative position as director of a crime lab. A master's degree in criminalistics or forensic science may be required for administrative jobs.
Recommended Skills:
  • Identifying the most appropriate equipment and tools needed to get a job done.
  • Paying attention to what other people are saying, and taking time to understand the points being made.
  • Inspecting and testing products or services to assure they meet the desired specifications.
  • The ability to understand complex written paragraphs, instructions, or reports.
  • Using logic to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Using scientific methods to investigate and conduct experiments.
  • Talking, giving speeches, or speaking in a group to convey information, explain ideas, or give instructions.
  • Composing and communicating your ideas in written form.
Recommended Values:
  • Having the ability to work with equipment or material things.

* National data collected by the Department of Labor in 2014 with projections through 2024. For New York green job information .

* For New York salary data information .

* For New York green job information .

Understanding acquiring positions in this field may be enhanced through continuing academic study (i.e. earning a baccalaureate or a master's degree) and/or work experience in the field, Queensborough Community College has established transfer agreements with other institutions for students who wish to further pursue their educational goals. Students are highly encouraged to meet with one of our Career Services to fully understand the opportunities available through study in their degree program.