SWAFDE is a regional organization of Forensic Document Examiners, with membership throughout the United States. Any person, regardless of sex, race, creed, or national origin who is a United States citizen and whose primary profession is that of a Forensic Document Examiner and whose primary place of employment is within the United States, is eligible for membership as long as he/she otherwise meets all of the requirements as set forth in SWAFDE’s Bylaws and Directives.

Please note that prospective members must either practice Forensic Document Examination as their primary profession or be in a training program under the guidance of an experienced examiner whose qualifications to train have been approved by the Board of Directors. New members must be sponsored by an Active member of SWAFDE. For more information, please contact the membership chairperson.

What does a Forensic Document Examiner do?

A Forensic Document Examiner examines documents to determine authenticity and/or to discover who wrote them. The examiner may subsequently be called to present expert testimony in court to demonstrate the basis and reasons for his/her opinion. The most common examination is the comparison of handwriting and/or signatures, but other examinations include examination of typewritten or machine-generated documents; detection of alterations; decipherment of obliterated and indented writing; examination of watermarks, rubber stamps, and other impressions; and ink differentiation. Many Forensic Document Examiners working federal, state, or local crime laboratories. A number of others are in private practice and mainly work on civil cases.

How can I become a Forensic Document Examiner?

The amount of training generally considered acceptable in this field is 2-4 years, full time. This is normally accomplished by apprenticeship in a law enforcement crime laboratory or under the direct supervision of a qualified private document examiner. There are no college programs that will train you to become a Forensic Document Examiner. SWAFDE does not recognize self-instruction, online or correspondence courses as fulfillment of the basic training requirements. SWAFDE affirms the current version of ASTM standard E2388 as containing the basic requirements for Forensic Document Examiner training.