If you want to be part of the criminal justice system and enjoy solving puzzles, a career as a forensic scientist is a good fit. To be on this job path, it is important to uncover the skills and education that it requires. There is some information that can help you pursue employment as a forensic scientist.
What Skills are Necessary for a Forensic Scientist?
To be successful in this field, you must have a desire to solve crimes. However, you do not act like a police officer. Instead, you work behind the scenes in the lab examining crimes and the evidence that is involved. You must use knowledge of scientific protocol and must understand bits of the legal system as well. Before entering this career, there are a few areas of importance that you may want to target.
- Laboratory Experience. As a forensic scientist, you will spend most of your time in a laboratory. You will use a microscope and other equipment to examine evidence, including bullets, fibers, and hair samples. Also, you may extract DNA from blood that has been found at the crime scene.
- Critical Thinking. A forensic scientist must search for less-obvious evidence at a crime scene. This includes fingerprints, bullet shells, and other bodily residue. After collecting and documenting this data, you must think critically and carefully analyze each item. You must be able to form a puzzle in your mind and solve it so that the guilty party is identified.
- Communication. When you are a forensic scientist, you must have exceptional communication skills. You will be speaking with toxicologists and other scientists to compare notes and to learn things that may have involved the crime. All findings must be completed meticulously and communicated to detectives.
- Biology. Obviously, a forensic scientist must be familiar with the human body and how it works. This will help you determine time of death, cause of death, and other DNA-related topics.
What Degree Do You Need?
To begin your career, it is recommended to complete a bachelor’s degree in a natural science. Therefore, studying biology or chemistry is wise. Many times, on-the-job training will be required while investigating a crime scene. It is possible to gain more education as well. Besides general education, a bachelor’s program may include more specific classes.
- Forensic biology
- Organic chemistry
Do You Need Any Certifications?
To pursue this type of study, it is best to choose a program that is supported by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission. It is possible to seek certification from the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board as well.
How long Does Forensic Scientist Training Take?
In most instances, it takes between four and six years of study to become a forensic scientist. Since forensics is a vast field, you may wish to specialize in a certain area. For instance, you may choose to concentrate on accident reconstruction, ballistics, bloodstain patterns, or similar subjects. Therefore, you can perform autopsies, DNA analysis, and psychological assessments.
How Much Will You Make as a Forensic Scientist?
In May 2020, the median average yearly wage for a forensic scientist was $60,590. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics makes this estimate based on different parts of the country.
What are the Job Prospects as a Forensic Scientist?
The employment outlook for a forensic scientist is very encouraging. According to BLS, the field is expected to grow 60 percent from 2020 to 2030. This is much quicker than the average of other jobs. Approximately 2,500 new openings are expected each year. Therefore, employment opportunities are quite high.
How to Find Work as a Forensic Scientist
There are many industries that require the skills of a trained forensic scientist. There are jobs available on the state and local government levels, including with police departments. Security services and law offices often consult with these professionals as well. Also, you may be able to find employment at a diagnostic lab or a substance abuse hospital. As previously mentioned, being specialized opens many more opportunities for work.