Criminal Justice Articles

What does it take to become a Forensic Scientist?

Forensic scientists are experts who analyze evidence in the legal system. They provide an invaluable service in the process of investigating crimes and prosecuting the right people. Their job involves analyzing any type of item that is involved in a crime scene or possible criminal act. This can include a wide variety of things, from bullets and blood spatters to handwriting and carpet fibers. Forensic scientists may have to compare two different pieces of evidence and determine if they are a match. They are also frequently required to testify in court. The expert testimony they can provide may be the factor that convinces a jury to send a criminal to prison.

Certain traits are needed to be successful as a forensic scientist. Those who are interested in pursuing this career path should have a strong interest in crime investigation. It's important to be good at math and science. Forensic scientists tend to spend a lot of time working alone. They need to enjoy solving complicated puzzles and have excellent critical thinking skills. The career also requires strong attention to details. Dealing with evidence from murder scenes and other crimes requires forensic scientists to not be squeamish.

The first step to becoming a forensic scientist is obtaining a bachelor's degree in a related field. The ideal majors for those interested in this career are biology, chemistry, forensic science, physical anthropology, and physics. Whichever discipline is chosen to focus on, it's important to have a broad range of knowledge. Get as much experience as possible with working in a science lab and using lab equipment, and take criminal justice classes. Good communication skills are needed to prepare reports and testify in court. Advanced math, particularly trigonometry and chemistry, is often used in analysis. Finally, it's essential to be comfortable with using computers. Students who are lacking in any of these areas should take undergraduate courses to improve their skills.

It's often possible to get an entry-level job as a forensic scientist with a four-year degree. Forensic scientists who have bachelor's degrees tend to have the biggest variety of tasks to do. Employers usually provide additional training to new graduates to help them learn the specific knowledge needed for the job. Continuing education, such as attending conferences and lectures, may be required. Completing these suggestions is a good idea for keeping up-to-date in this ever changing field, even if they aren't required.

Many individuals choose to continue their education and get a master's degree. This provides more opportunity for career advancement and higher earnings. At the graduate level, forensic scientists usually begin to specialize in a certain area of forensic analysis. Some examples of specialties are examining firearms, tool marks, and polygraphs, analyzing documents, toxicology, body fluids and DNA. This gives individuals the opportunity to study the particular area that interests them most in a specialized manner. Doctoral degrees are not needed for most positions in this field. They do give forensic scientists the chance to compete for administrative roles or work in academia or research.

Schools Offering Forensic Science Courses:

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