Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a degree in forensic art?

At present there is no university offering a degree in forensic art. People have wandered into the field of forensic art from all walks of life. One need not be a police officer in order to become a forensic artist. I myself am not a sworn officer. You should however contact your local police department or sheriff's office and inquire about job openings because many departments have civilian positions that may be of interest to you.

Where can I get training?

The FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia also offers a three week program in forensic art. However, in order to attend the FBI Academy, one must fulfill all the prerequisites. Essentially, in order to attend the FBI academy one must be employed by a police department and have completed several composites yielding positive subject identifications. The following link will provide you more information on the FBI Academy:

In addition there are many workshops taught by both practicing and retired forensic artists. There is also training offered through the International Association of Identification (IAI):

How many forensic artists are there?

The discipline of forensic art has very few fulltime positions. I have heard numbers ranging from 12 to 20 fulltime forensic artists in the United States. There are many other practicing forensic artists who have some other job description. For example one may be a detective or fingerprint technician who also draws for his/her police agency. In addition some people who work in the graphic services unit of their police departments also do forensic art cases.

Is there a certification process?

Training in forensic art is usually obtained through workshops. There is no course that I would recommend that legitimately "certifies" the student upon completion. Taking courses (the FBI’s Forensic Facial Imaging and IAI workshops included) merely provide a certification of completion.

One may apply for certification by The International Association of Identification only after acquiring all the necessary training and experience required by the Association. The International Association of Identification (IAI) is the only organization that offers a professional certification in this field. The IAI certification in Forensic Art is only for composite drawings. There is no certification in facial reconstructions, age progressions, postmortem drawings…etc.

Some people specialize almost exclusively in one aspect of forensic art such as composite imagery. However, many cases require expertise and knowledge in different areas of forensic art such as reconstruction and postmortem identification aids. With regard to digital imaging software, a working knowledge of these programs is an obvious asset when producing demonstrative evidence or any sort of visual information for case presentation in court.

Do you offer internships/tours?

No. In general my department does not offer tours to the public. Most of the tours that are given are to people within the law enforcement community. In addition to law enforcement officers, tours are given to pathologists from the Medical Examiner’s Office and students from the University of Miami’s forensic anthropology program.