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Forensic Science Degrees and Education

Forensic scientists collect and analyze physical evidence found at crime scenes. They collect fingerprints, saliva, blood, semen, drugs, and firearms. They also collect bones and reconstruct skeletons as well as prepare reports, preserve evidence, discuss collected evidence with law enforcement and attorneys, and testify in court. Since the scientific evaluation of evidence can determine a defendant’s guilt or innocence, forensic scientists serve an important role in the criminal justice system.

Forensic Science Careers

There are variety of areas of practice in forensic science. These include:

Education Requirements

To get a forensic science entry level job, candidates need to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, microbiology, genetics, or medical technology, and it is recommended candidates take law and communication classes. While earning a degree it is also highly recommended that you participate in a low or non-paid internship in a crime laboratory to get experience in the forensic application of science. Laboratory experience may be required by some crime labs to get a job.

Special Skills

Since forensic technicians work with many people in stressful situations, it is important to be able to work well with others. It is also important for forensic scientists to have good speaking and writing skills since they prepare reports and testy in court. Forensic scientists must also possess excellent hand-eye coordination since they handle small pieces of evidence to examine under a microscope.

The majority of forensic technicians work for state or federal crime laboratories. As a result, forensic scientists may be able to receive medical and retirement benefits. Forensic scientists typically earn about $57,850 annually or $27.80 hourly, according to O-net.

Working Conditions

Forensic scientists working for the government usually work 40 hours a week but sometimes work extra to meet deadlines and work on large caseloads. Forensic scientists spend most of their time in labs but often travel to crime scenes to examine and analyze evidence, as well as testify in court.

Job Outlook for Forensic Scientists

Experienced and skilled forensic scientists are typically in demand, but because of threats to cut budgets, there are few entry-level positions and there is high competition for these jobs. The job outlook for a forensic scientist is currently much faster than average (15% or higher) according to O-Net.