The Sciences of Forensic Science
When in school, forensic science majors often specialize in related areas of science such as computer science, chemistry, biology, and more. To see how each is related to forensics, check out the list below.
Computer science – used to inspect evidence found on electronic devices
Chemistry – used to determine chemical changes at crime scenes; used for drug testing
Biology – used to identify victims, prove suspect was at the scene of the crime, and other types of DNA profiling
Physics – aided in the creation of the microscope and other equipment used by forensic scientists; used often in the field of ballistics
How to Get a Forensic Science Degree
Once you’ve made the decision to pursue a career in forensic science, it is time for you to begin applying to various higher education facilities in order to build your knowledge and improve your career opportunities. But how do you know which forensic science schools you should apply to? Choosing a school is not as easy as picking the first one to send you an acceptance letter. It is an intense process, one that will affect the rest of your life. So it is important to choose a school that will best enhance your knowledge and experience in forensic science.
The American InterContinental University has a great criminal justice online program in which undergraduate students can claim a specialization in forensic science while earning their Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Students who take advantage of this program will learn how to use criminal testing technology and techniques, including but not limited to lie detecting, criminal profiling, and hypnosis. Other skills developed during this time include collecting and analyzing evidence from a crime scene, the ability to interpret crime scene photography, and others. Because the college does most of its educating online, students can participate in courses no matter where they are, perfect for a busy and on-the-go lifestyle.
Boston State University, located in Boston, MA, has one of the best forensic science programs in the United States. This private research university was founded in 1839, and offers its graduate students Masters of Science in Forensic Anthropology, Biomedical Forensic Sciences, and a program on applied forensic science. The university’s forensic anthropology major focuses closely on the anthropological aspects of the death of victims, human anatomy, and crime scene investigating techniques.
Located in Syracuse, NY, Syracuse University offers graduate students one of the best programs for forensic science. Here, students will earn a Master of Science in Biomedical Forensic Science that will prepare them for careers in DNA analysis, toxicology, pathology, and more. Participating in this program is an outstanding way to add zest to your applications for law school and resumes for upper level careers. It provides students with field research experience for crime labs and drug enforcement agencies, as well. Students can take courses in medical death investigation, forensic mental health, nuclear forensics, and more to prepare them for the careers of their dreams.
Careers in Forensic Science
Once you’ve mastered the art of forensic science, you’ll find that you are eligible to begin your journey down a variety of career paths in that field. It’s up to you which path you choose, so it is wise to make the decision on where you’re heading before you walk across that stage and receive the piece of paper that will open doors for you around the world, before you graduate. Below, you will find many job opportunities waiting for you to finish your education in forensic science.
Entry Level Careers in Forensic Science
After you earn a bachelors degree in forensic science, many intriguing jobs will become available to you. With little to no experience, you’ll find it may be difficult to acquire a higher-paying position, but after you put time into one or multiple entry level jobs, you will most likely qualify for a promotion or another position in general.
Crime Lab Analyst
Crime laboratory analysts typically have a bachelors degree in the specific science in which they plan to specialize (i.e., biology) with a concentration in forensic science. They often spend their time analyzing and comparing samples to help seek out criminals. Samples usually include blood and strands of hair, comparing DNA results. Crime lab analysts are particularly knowledgeable in chemistry and biology and spend most of their time indoors inside laboratories.
Crime lab analysts can earn around $50,000 annually.
Forensic Science Technician
Forensic science technicians typically assist forensic scientists in the analysis of evidence found at crime scenes. They also help prepare reports on discoveries. Much of their time can be spent performing laboratory work related to evidence recovered from crime scenes. Forensic science technicians typically have a bachelors degree in forensic science or a related science with a concentration in forensics. They are talented in the field of research, and they have great written communication skills.
Forensic science technicians can earn around $51,000 annually.
With a bachelors degree in forensic science or a more specifically related science and a strong background in chemistry, you can become a forensic chemist. With a job as a forensic chemist, you will be responsible for examining specific compounds in order to determine their origins and how they are created. Forensic chemists also need to know how to write lab reports on their findings. They often work for government agencies in detecting the presence and compositions of narcotics.
Forensic chemists can earn around $60,000 annually, with room to grow as experience levels grow.
Advanced Careers in Forensic Science
Once you’ve gained significant experience or have earned a masters degree or doctoral degree in forensic science, you will qualify for even higher positions in your field. Just a few examples of the many jobs you may qualify for are listed below.
Forensic engineers are responsible for analyzing faulty structures at crime scenes. They are in charge of finding the problem, determining what went wrong, and identifying the cause of the malfunction. Structures typically include vehicles and buildings. After acquiring a bachelors degree in engineering, students who want to pursue a career as a forensic engineer must then proceed in obtaining a license for engineering. This license must be earned wherever the student intends to practice forensic engineering, because examinations can vary from state to state. It is important to note that not all colleges and universities that offer engineering programs also offer courses in forensic engineering.
Forensic engineers just entering the business world can earn around $47,000 annually, with the potential to earn more than $85,000 with time and experience.
Forensic Computer Examiners
If you’re interested in both computer science and forensics, you should consider a position as a forensic computer examiner. Forensic computer examiners focus on locating and analyzing digital evidence, including evidence found on computers, tablets, cell phones, etc. They are skilled at manipulating and maintaining multiple operating systems, various databases, and more. Computer examiners possess excellent communication skills, because they often need to explain their findings to those with less knowledge of technical terminology. They have also earned a masters degree and/or doctoral degree in one of various fields of computer science or mathematics.
Forensic computer examiners can earn well over $75,000 a year depending on experience and education levels.
Fingerprint SpecialistThe job of a fingerprint specialist is rather self-explanatory. Fingerprint specialists use advanced techniques and equipment to obtain and examine fingerprints left at crime scenes and on physical evidence in order to identify criminals as well as victims. Therefore, they spend most of their time on the road traveling to crime scenes, and also in laboratories identifying the prints. Fingerprint specialists have good communication skills, as they record their findings and create reports based on them as well as conversing with investigators to provide them with further evidence to support claims made in regard to a case. Many fingerprint specialists begin as forensic scientists in order to gain experience in criminal research and analysis.
Fingerprint specialists can earn from $70,000 to over $100,000 annually.
*Please note that most jobs, including those listed here, may require court testimonies.
Companies that Hire People with Forensic Science Degrees
Various companies around the world look for people who have forensic science degrees. Many jobs are available in the world of forensic science; it’s just a matter of finding them. Below is a list of companies that look for people with forensic science degrees. You can also check your state’s listings online for jobs available in forensic science.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – government administration; hires positions for forensic scientists, forensic chemists, fingerprint specialists, computer forensics examiner, etc.
Strategic Analysis, Inc. – founded in 1986; private company providing technical and programming assistance to national security agencies; hires positions for computer analysts, biodefense scientist, forensic DNA scientists, etc.
Arkansas Department of Human Services – hires positions for fraud investigators, forensic scientists, food preparation specialists, public safety officers, etc.
Ethos Laboratories – provides laboratory services to institutions around the U.S.; hires positions for forensic scientists, chemists, etc.
Always do your research before applying to schools and for jobs. The information here is merely a starting point on your journey to discovering the right career path for you.