Senior forensic technician - Mickayla Dustin

Mickayla had the chance to meet future colleagues while she studied the Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Science.

Key facts

Career: Senior forensic technician
Programme: Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Science

“Since high school, my favourite subject has been chemistry, and so I carried on with it at university. I went straight from my Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Chemistry and Biochemistry, to the Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Science (PGDipForensic) at the University of Auckland, as I wanted the best chance of getting into the forensic science industry in New Zealand.

“The PGDipForensic programme is conjointly run with staff from ESR – the forensic science provider to the New Zealand Police, therefore it’s a great opportunity to meet potential future colleagues.

"The programme covers all the forensic science areas, which is pretty awesome as you come away with a wide understanding of forensic science and what each forensic team does.

“Soon after completing my degree I was offered the position of Senior Forensic Technician in the Physical Evidence Team (PE) at ESR. I was told that this position hadn’t been advertised in about 10 years, which shows how hard it is to get into this industry (which we were warned about before beginning the PGDip course). So I was very lucky with timing on that one.

“I love my job! It’s so varied. We analyse quite a few different evidence types in PE, such as fire debris, glass, and paint. I search some items, such as clothing and firearms, for blood and sample for DNA.

I’m also the instrument manager for a couple of our instruments, and they often require trouble-shooting and maintenance.

I often help out the clan lab team by being on their technician on-call scene roster, and attend clandestine drug laboratories with the senior scientist and Clan Lab Police team to help out with field testing and taking samples (so they can be taken back to the lab for subsequent analysis).

This sometimes involves attending warrants with the Armed Offenders Squad, which can be quite exciting but also quite tiring as it usually involves a very early morning start.”