Forensic Scientists play an instrumental role in criminal investigations. They help apprehend criminals by gathering and analyzing physical evidence. Criminal investigation and laboratory analysis are their two main aspects of their jobs.
What Do Forensic Scientists Do
Forensic scientists perform the following tasks:
- Visit the scene to determine the kind of evidence that needs to be collected, and how the process should be completed.
- Photograph crime scene and evidence.
- Sketch various aspects of a crime scene.
- Make notes of the observations and details.
- Gather all the physical evidence related to the crime, such as weapons, fingerprints, and body fluids.
- Record and preserve evidence before sending it to the forensic lab.
They generally perform the following tasks in the laboratory:
- Identify and define the types of crime scene evidence with the help of scientific analysis.
- Use chemical and physical analyses to determine any possible connection between suspects and criminal activity.
- Interact with experts of other related fields to get a better understanding of evidences.
- Reconstruct the crime scene according to scientific findings.
How to Become a Forensic Scientist
Forensic scientists require a bachelor’s degree in forensic science or a natural science if they wish to work in law enforcement.
However, many rural agencies may only require a high school diploma. Technicians who wish to work in a laboratory require a bachelor’s degree either in forensic science or natural sciences such as biology or chemistry.
Students going for a forensic science degree should make sure that their coursework includes mathematics, biology, and chemistry.
Forensic Science Programs Online
There are a number of forensic science programs available online. These programs include master’s programs, graduate certificates, and also non-credit courses.
The major advantages of online programs are the flexibility and the convenience they offer to students. Students may also save on additional costs for travelling and textbooks, which are usually associated with on-campus programs.
Many new developments are taking place in online education and well reputed schools are now offering their courses online, which helps to make education accessible to more people.
Forensic scientists require on-the-job training before they are eligible to work independently. New crime scene investigators work as apprentices under experienced investigators. Through apprenticeship, they learn appropriate procedures and methods of gathering and recording evidence.
Forensic scientists learn laboratory specialties on the job as well, and the length of laboratory training depends on the specialty. DNA analysis training takes six to twelve months, while firearms training may last for three years or more.
Career Outlook and Salary
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of forensic science technicians is likely to grow by 14 percent between 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The average mean annual wage of forensic scientists was $64,890 in May 2020.