Should I become a Forensic Scientist?
Thinking of forensic science careers? Are you:
o Detail oriented
o Good with putting pieces of a puzzle together
Is so, a career as a forensic scientist may be perfect for you. Forensic science careers focus on the use of science for the purposes of law. Forensic scientists study crimes, crime scenes and make connections to explain crime. They provide information to investigators, attorneys, judges, and juries with the overarching goal of determining innocents or guilt.
It takes teamwork to solve a crime and thus forensic scientists work together with police officers, sheriff’s deputies, attorneys, DEA, CIA and FBI agents as well as crime scene investigators.
Some forensic scientists work in laboratories, others directly on crime scenes while some teach in colleges and universities. They work for federal, state and local government, medical examiners offices, hospitals, police departments or independent forensic science consultants.
Forensic Science Specializations
There are a number of disciplines within forensic science. Depending on your area of interests, you will be able to chose from a number of exciting careers. For example, criminalists analyze, compare, identify and interpret physical evidence. They examine physical evidence such as hair, fibers, blood, seminal and body fluid stains, drugs, foot prints and bullet marks. They are trained to separate important evidence from irrelevant or those of little value.
Another specialization in forensic science is forensic engineering. Forensic engineers apply the science of engineering to law, civil as well as criminal matters. They take part of accident reconstruction, causes and origins of fires and explosions, design review as well as evaluation of quality of construction or manufacturing.
Odontology, or forensic dentistry, is yet another exciting specialization within this field. This career path involves the application of dental science to physical and biological dental evidence. Odontologists participate in autopsy examinations, conducting dental examinations that use both physical and biological evidence. This specialization is critical in identifying missing persons, identifying victims of major catastrophes or accidents as well as solving cases of assault, rape or homicide.
Out of all the forensic science careers, forensic pathology is probably the most widely publicized and depicted in television shows and movies. While pathology is the study of disease, forensic pathology is the application of the principles of pathology to legal issues.
Forensic pathologists spend their days investigating and examining the cause of deaths due to homicide, suicide or sudden deaths. All forensic pathologists are medical doctors. In addition to medical training, an apprenticeship in pathology is required. Since forensic pathology is a subspecialty of pathology an additional year of training is required focused specifically on forensic pathology. Forensic pathologists work in city, county or state medical examiners offices, hospitals, state and federal government agencies.
Finally, forensic psychologists and psychiatrists deal with a wide range of legal issues, either criminal or civil. In criminal trails they evaluate competency and if a person is fit to stand trial or testify. Juvenile delinquency, child custody, domestic abuse, adoption and foster care are just some of the family issues frequently dealt by forensic psychologists and psychiatrists. Providing expert testimony as well as advising judges and lawyers are common tasks of this career path.
Additional specializations within forensic science careers include physical anthropology, questioned documents and toxicology. As you can see, the number of career paths within the field of forensic science is quite impressive. Given the scope of work and the required training and education for most career paths, the number of jobs to choose from is encouraging. If any of the topics listed above have intrigued you, consider investigating some forensic science degree programs to determine if you should pursue this career path further.