There has been an increased interest in forensic science careers due partly to the success of television shows that feature forensic scientists in key roles. When considering this career path it is important to learn what the real world forensic science job is all about. There is specific training that is required and the type of training that is chosen will in many ways dictate what specific field you are qualified for.
There are a number of different disciplines within forensic science. Ranging from forensic veterinary science to forensic anthropology. Forensic science is used within the law enforcement and the science community to answer questions in legal matters including civil and criminal cases. The forensic scientist analyzes facts in a scientific manner in order to gather information that may be necessary in an investigation.
Unlike the characters in television shows most forensic science technicians complete much of their work inside either a crime lab or science lab. The technician may also at times perform work out in the field or at some other necessary location.
Those still in high school that are interested in forensic science careers should start taking courses in computers, science, and math in order to build a solid foundation for future education. Recommended science classes include earth science, biochemistry, and biology. These classes will create a better understanding when enrolled in college courses.
A bachelor’s degree is required for most forensic science careers, though some employers may accept an associate’s degree. Those that have an associate’s degree should expect their first job to be an entry-level position. Some employers will offer to provide assistance with the cost of continuing your education in forensic science. A master’s degree or at times a doctorates degree is required for higher positions.
There are two main forensic science careers available that forensic scientists commonly go in to. These are forensic criminal investigation and civil forensic investigations.
In forensic criminal investigation the technician’s duties may include the examination of materials in order to identify specific elements. This can include using specialized equipment and techniques to test material to determine the presence of drugs or to retrieve particulates of DNA. The results of these tests may then be used in the prosecution of a suspect or in the solving of crimes. Some of the types of items that may be tested include footprints, burned fragments of material, and bullet testing. There are specific areas of expertise in the forensic criminal investigation field. These can include biochemistry, fingerprint analysis, ballistics, and handwriting analysis. The forensic scientist may be called to testify during criminal trials in order to support the discovered evidence.
Forensic scientists can also be employed as a civil forensic investigator, or may be called in to assist in the investigation of a civil matter. Those working civil cases will be called to perform tasks such as the verification of signatures on contracts, testing soil or water for contaminants, and DNA testing. Most of this type of work is preformed in a stationary lab in order to have the necessary equipment on hand for proper testing.
Those considering forensic science careers should first gather as much information as possible in order to decide which area they would like to focus. Those with applied science and technology degrees often find it easier to secure employment in a field that matches their science discipline. This type of career can be very exciting and rewarding. Contributing to this is the opportunity to work with other professionals on a variety of cases.
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