Footwear Certification Process, Requirements & Qualifications

Footwear Certification home page

Scope of Certification

A Certified Footwear Examiner demonstrates an in-depth knowledge and understanding of terminology, detection, recovery, photography, preservation, enhancement, analysis, comparison, manufacturing processes, documentation and reporting of footwear impression evidence. Candidates for certification are primarily employed in the field of Forensic Science with duties to include the examination of footwear impression evidence.

A Certified Footwear Examiner will serve in the interest of the science to the best of their ability. In fulfilling this duty, they will use all scientific and investigative techniques at their command to ascertain significant facts relevant to the matters under investigation. Through objective observations, the examiner evaluates these observations to reach their conclusion. Conclusions and opinions will be reported clearly and unambiguously. In carrying out these functions, the Certified Footwear Examiner will be guided by those practices and procedures which are generally recognized within the profession. The motives, methods and actions of the Certified Footwear Examiner shall at all times be consistent with the proper moral conduct and Code of Ethics laid out by the International Association for Identification.

Prerequisite Requirements

Formal Education

  • An applicant must possess a Bachelor's Degree plus two years of full time experience as a footwear examiner, or
  • An Associate Degree (or documentation of 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours of college credits) plus three years full time experience as a footwear examiner, or
  • A High School diploma or equivalent plus four years of full time experience as a footwear examiner.
  • *A footwear examiner is defined as an individual employed full time in forensic science whose duties include the analysis, comparison and documentation of written opinions regarding footwear impression evidence in a laboratory type setting or as part of a specialized investigative unit. The collection, preservation and documentation of footwear related evidence at a crime scene does not constitute experience as a footwear examiner as required by the IAI for Footwear Certification.

Technical Requirements

  • An applicant for certification must have satisfactorily completed a training program in the examination of footwear evidence to include, but not limited to, terminology, manufacturing process, photography, enhancement, recovery and preservation of footwear evidence, comparative examinations, case note preparation and report writing, legal considerations and courtroom testimony. Qualifying training programs should be structured as recommended by SWGTREAD: "Guideline for the Minimum Qualifications and Training Requirements for a Forensic Footwear and/or Tire Tread Examiner.
  • It should be noted that for Certification, hours will be used to calculate figures and credits used to calculate recertification figures.

Experience

  • Experience requirements are set according to the formal education level achieved as detailed above.

Examination

  • Certification shall be determined by testing. All written tests are graded and recorded on a pass/fail basis. The certification test was developed and is maintained by the IAI Footwear Certification Board. Applicants have 2 hours to complete the written examination and 60 days from receipt of the practical problems to work and return them.
  • Must successfully pass a written test including, but not limited to, terminology, manufacturing processes for footwear, photography of track/mark evidence, enhancement, recovery and preservation of footwear evidence with a minimum score of 80%.

    A candidate can prepare for the written test by reading:

    • Bodziak, W. J., "Footwear Impression Evidence (Second Edition)"
    • IAI Recommended Course of Study for Footwear and Tire Track Examiners
    • Published Standards by the Scientific Working Group for Shoeprint and Tire Tread Evidence (SWGTREAD)
  • The practical problems shall consist of the evaluation and comparison of a minimum of three (3) separate cases with no erroneous inclusions or exclusions. Notes, observations and all supporting data used to reach an opinion must be returned with the original test.
  • Anyone failing the written test must wait 6 months from the rejection date to reapply.
  • Anyone failing the practical test due to an erroneous inclusion or exclusion must wait for 1 year to reapply.
  • Those reapplying must submit a new application with all attachments plus whatever fee may be in effect at the time.
  • Applicants failing any part of the test need retake only that part which they failed.

Endorsements

  • Two letters of endorsement are required pursuant to the IAI Certification Program Operations Manual.