Fingerprint Classifier

Job Duties

Fingerprint classifiers identify individuals by examining, classifying, and searching for fingerprints. Fingerprints, the unique ridge-like patterns found on the tips of everyone's fingers, cannot by altered to conceal identity. When a person is arrested, they are usually fingerprinted to find out if they are wanted for other crimes or have a previous criminal record. People applying for jobs that include security clearance are routinely fingerprinted, as are people applying for certain types of licenses and permits. Most fingerprint classifiers working in city and county police departments focus on solving robberies and burglaries.

Fingerprint classifiers visit crime scenes, locate and lift fingerprints from the scene, and cross reference any prints found with prints of known criminals. They may fingerprint corpses or appear in court as expert witnesses. Fingerprint classifiers also work to make positive identifications of individuals. Far from the days of manually searching through catalogs of index cards for a match, today they utilize computer database technology to instantly search automated file systems.

Job Skills

Fingerprint classifiers must have the ability to manage numerous details at the same time and make connections between multiple factors . They should have a strong analytical aptitude. They also need to be able to deal effectively with people because they are often called upon to present their findings to officers, detectives, and administrators. They should have excellent speaking skills as they are often called upon to testify in courts of law.


Fingerprint classifiers may earn $2,244 to $3,523 per month. Fingerprint classifiers working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation earn $26,000 to $36,000 per month.

Training and Education

Applicants for fingerprint classifier positions are typically required to have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Most compete for jobs by taking a civil service examination, although some agencies require applicants to hold an associate of arts degree or courses in criminology, law enforcement, or police science. Some agencies only hire applicants who have prior experience in fingerprinting or have worked as records of fingerprint clerks. Courses in chemistry as well as health and safety can be advantageous because many of the processes used in the occupation are chemical in nature.

Applicants can complete courses lasting 1 to 2 weeks at community colleges or through the FBI. Computer courses can also give applicants a significant edge over the competition. Other special requirements include proof of good eyesight and memory, a valid driver's license, and typing ability. Applicants with arrest records or even minor traffic citations may by disqualified from the application process. Some agencies offer little opportunity for advancement unless the individual is also a police officer. Promotion in most government agencies is based on civil service examination scores.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of fingerprint classifiers is expected to increase faster than the average. This will be due to rising societal concerns regarding security and an increased focus on crime prevention and public safety. Demand will be high and job prospects excellent for all types of postitions in police services.

To learn more about becoming a fingerprint classifier, please visit our section on schools offering Legal Training for more information.