Avid fans of “Bones” and “CSI” have reason to rejoice: your dreams of becoming a forensic scientist can come true! You can study to work in this exciting and rewarding field, which has been romanticized in mystery novels and in movies and television.
Forensic scientists use a combination of science, math, chemistry, and problem solving to help solve criminal or civil cases in the legal world. They work with police officers and analyze evidence found at a crime scene. Then they create reports detailing their findings and conclusions. Sometimes a forensic scientist may testify in court as an expert witness.
What A Forensic Scientist Does
The main responsibility of a forensic scientist is to analyze things like hair, blood, fabric, and weapons to find answers. They examine DNA evidence, look for traces of drugs and poison, and analyze blood splatters, dirt, and surfaces. All these clues can help police find suspects and make arrests.
Some forensic scientists specialize in a certain area. Some analyze documents for forgeries, some examine firearms and projectiles to match weapons to a crime scene, some specialize in polygraph testing, and some use massive digital databases to sort through fingerprints to identify possible suspects.
This is an extremely fast-paced, exciting career, that is similar to that of a forensic psychologist. Being a forensic scientist can be very rewarding as you help bring criminals to justice, protect communities, and help the court determine if a person is guilty or innocent. Forensic scientists have major responsibilities in the legal system.
How to Become a Forensic Scientist
To land a dream job as a forensic scientist and work at a place like a government crime lab, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Secret Service, or Health and Human Services, you will need a bachelor’s degree. Most forensic scientists earn their degree in forensic science or a related field like chemistry, physics, or biology. A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.) will help you advance your career. Some forensic scientists choose to be certified by an organization like the American College of Forensic Examiners, but this is not required.