Did you ever watch CSI, Criminal Minds, or NCIS?
I think at some point, many of us during our childhood believed a job in forensic science was a very exciting career option. But did you actually decide to study and graduate in forensic science or a similar field?
Probably not, but you will be happy to know there are many job opportunities in forensic science. They range from solving serious crimes to assisting legal systems in court. If you are looking for a career in this industry, qualifications vary from a high school diploma to a master’s studies.
I’ll touch on the Popular Jobs in Forensic Science you can apply for in a bit, but before that…
- What Is Forensic Science?
- What Does A Forensic Scientist Do?
- Qualifications To Become A Forensic Scientist
- Qualities For A Successful Forensic Scientist
- Popular Jobs In Forensic Science
- Let’s Focus On Crime Scene Investigation
- Final Thoughts
What Is Forensic Science?
Forensic science is a crucial element of the criminal justice system. Forensic scientists examine evidence from crime scenes and develop findings that can either save someone from going to prison or put someone away for a very long time.
There would be little way to discover what and how something happened to someone without forensic scientists. Forensic scientists rely on several sciences, including chemistry, biology, and physics.
What Does A Forensic Scientist Do?
Most of the work done by forensic scientists is laboratory-based. They must examine hair, blood, drugs, glass, textile fabrics, and paint so that they can find a suspect in a criminal case. For example, taking a sample of hair or clothing from a suspect can determine whether or not it matches with something from the crime scene. Scientists have other responsibilities that include:
- Looking for evidence and collecting it from crime scenes.
- Writing reports.
- Gathering evidence.
- Sketching crime scenes.
- Photographing crime scenes.
- Analyzing tool, tire, and footmarks.
- Giving evidence in court and explaining to the jury the findings.
- Recovering data from electronics such as mobile phones and laptops.
- Consulting with other professionals.
- Using analytical techniques such as DNA profiling.
Qualifications To Become A Forensic Scientist
First of all, it would help if you were interested and were successful at science during your high school years. This will put you a step ahead and determine if you are the right fit for the role.
There are courses specifically for studying forensic science at universities throughout the country. You should note that forensic laboratories do not take placement students. This means you should try to gain experience in something similar using the same data analyzing techniques.
Qualities For A Successful Forensic Scientist
Often forensic employees have to testify in court. Therefore you must have excellent communication skills and the confidence to get your point across to a judge and jury.
Problem Solving Skills
You must think on your feet and use logic to look for problems and solutions.
A crime scene can be an incredibly uncomfortable place. You must be able to keep your emotions in check and stay professional.
You must be well-trained and understand how to input data onto computer systems and use the lab equipment to run tests.
Observation and Attention to Detail
Because the scientists are working with important evidence, you must notify any small change and avoid making errors.
Popular Jobs In Forensic Science
Forensic pathologists are experts in determining the cause of death. They will analyze and study the ins and outs of the body to conclude how someone died, whether it was from natural causes or violence. They must also attend crime scenes, issue death certificates, and in some cases, testify in a courtroom.
It takes at least 13 years to become a forensic pathologist and requires lots of studying—a Bachelor’s Degree in Science or a specific course related to Forensic Pathology. You must have a Doctor of Medicine, complete a residency program, complete a one-year fellowship in forensic pathology and obtain board certification.
Average Salary: $195,046
Forensic Science Examiner
An examiner is highly respected and seen as an expert in the field. You can expect a much higher salary and a longer career. They are usually more experienced and analyze data alone. Once they have made a forensics report, the examiner will pass the information onto the attornies, client, and law enforcement in that specific case.
A Bachelor’s degree in forensic science or forensic biology.
Average Salary: $87,623
Forensic engineers examine machines and figure out the cause of why they failed. They then determine if there was any foul play involved. This ideally checks if something that hurt someone or something was purposefully harmed or determines if it was an accident. A forensic engineer must be a great communicator, and attention to detail is critical.
A Bachelor’s degree in engineering, pass the fundamentals of engineering (FE) exam, and some job roles may ask for a master’s degree.
Average Salary: $85,525
Forensic accountants are responsible for looking into crimes that involve money and complicated transactions. They are looking for any illegal activity. There are many areas of specialization in forensic accountancy to choose from, including; tax fraud, money laundering, bankruptcy, and breach of contract are, to name a few.
You must have a Bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Average Salary: $79,929
Forensic artists are critical in some cases to finding a criminal. Artists must listen carefully to a victim’s description of someone and create a realistic drawing based on what they provide. These drawings are usually then used by police who release them to the public through different platforms such as television, social media, and good old-fashioned paper copies.
They also create age projections for missing persons, sketches of victims from surveillance footage and photos, examining remains, and creating an image of what someone may have looked like.
A degree is not always necessary; however, your career is likely to progress at a far faster rate if you have one, such as a Bachelor’s Degree in an artistic field and further training in forensic artistry.
Average Salary: $63,000
Crime Scene Investiagator
Investigators must use special equipment and procedures to analyze a crime scene. They must take care of the crime scene and preserve any evidence. This could be anything from a traffic accident to homicides. They must collect any important evidence from the crime scene, such as hair, textile fibers, bullets, fluids, and footwear impressions, and then present the findings to the laboratory.
A Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, Computer Science, or Forensic Science.
Average Salary: $43,960
Crime Laboratory Analyst
Lab techs collect data and samples and run tests to determine any wrongdoing. Laboratory analysts have to bring samples from the crime to the courtroom to explain any evidence of crimes.
Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science, Physical Science, or Biology.
Average Salary: $55,436
Forensic investigators have to analyze evidence found at a crime scene. They may collect this evidence themselves and visit the crime scene. Take photos, collect samples and use the evidence collected to finalize their thoughts on what happened.
A bachelor’s degree in Forensic Science or Criminal Justice.
Average Salary: $72,325
A forensic nurse must work with victims with short or long-term health consequences due to a violent crime. They provide care to victims of abuse, assault, and human trafficking, among other things. Nurses must work closely with the police and attornies and present evidence through photos of victims’ bodies.
A Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. It is encouraged to become certified in a subspecialty such as SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensics Examiner).
Average Salary: $73,300
A fingerprint analyst analyses fingerprints left at a crime scene. Once they have the evidence, they run it through national databases to see if they can find a match to a victim or criminal. They must attend crime scenes, sweep the area for fingerprints, preserve the evidence, and identify and label prints.
A Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science, Criminal Justice, or Biology.
Average Salary: $53,313
Let’s Focus On Crime Scene Investigation
Firstly, check out my Crime Scene Investigator Job Description to get a more in-depth look into what the position entails, and why not try my How To Become A Detective or my How To Become A CIA Agent for an exciting career alternative!
CSI work can be very challenging and takes a certain personality type. So, we recommend reading up on How To Become A Crime Scene Investigator – The ULTIMATE Career Guide to becoming a Scenes Of Crime Officer (SOCO), and Becoming a Crime Scene Investigator, as well as the excellent, Practical Crime Scene Processing and Investigation, to decide whether its the right fit for you.
But that’s not all; we also enjoyed the informative Death Investigators Handbook – A Field Guide To Crime Scene Processing, Forensic Evaluations, & Investigative Techniques, or how about Digital Photography for the Crime Scene Investigator, and even Investigating Cybercrime (Crime Scene Investigators) all available online in 2023.
There are many paths to go down when looking at a career in forensic science. You can choose which suits you best and your interests.
Unfortunately, it is challenging to gain work experience in this industry due to the nature of the roles and the need for confidentiality. However, don’t let that put you off.
Choosing to study a degree in a generalized science may help you determine which role would suit you best. Almost all forensic science jobs require a degree and lots of training.
Good luck and enjoy the Forensic Sciences!