Questioned Document Examination - Training


There are three possible methods of instruction for an aspiring document examiner:

  1. Self-education is the way in which the pioneers of the field began, as there was no other method of instruction.
  2. Apprenticeship has become the widespread manner in which many examiners are now taught. In fact, this is the method that is recommended by ASTM in Standard E2388-05. To conform with the ASTM standard such training "shall be the equivalent of a minimum of 24 months full-time training under the supervision of a principal trainer" and "the training program shall be successfully completed in a period not to exceed four years". The training program must also include an extensive list of specific syllabus topics outlined in ASTM Standard E2388-05.
  3. College and university programs are both very limited at this time. This is due, in part, to the relatively limited demand for forensic document examiners. It also relates to the need for extensive practical experience; particularly with respect to handwriting examination. It is difficult to include this degree of practical experience in a normal academic program.

There are some distance learning courses available as well. These are taught through a virtual reality classroom and may include an apprenticeship program, a correspondence course, or both.

A trainee must learn how to present evidence before the court in clear, forceful testimony. Fledgling examiners in the later stages of training can get a glimpse into the legal process as well as a better sense of this aspect of their work through participation in a mock trial or by attending actual court hearings to observe the testimony of qualified examiners.

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