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What is Forensic Science?
Forensic science is the method used to apply various sciences and techniques to evaluate and investigate a crime scene. Individuals pursuing a career in forensic science will be responsible for maintaining a crime scene to collect samples, the proper care of material, the review and testing of samples in a laboratory setting and the evaluation of results in order to solidify evidence and knowledge. Forensic scientists must be strong will due to the exposure to disturbing material, particularly those who specialize in crime scene investigation. Individuals wanting to work in CSI should be prepared to witness disturbing sights.
A degree in forensic science prepares individuals to apply scientific methods to the investigation of crime. A forensic science program will provide an education in various sciences along with courses in law, investigation and methodology. Such programs will educate individuals in the gathering and analyses of evidence. An education in forensic science requires an individual to be attentive and meticulous, and able to examine seemingly insignificant material for clues. Degrees in forensic science can range from diplomas to master's degrees, with a bachelor's degree most often pursued for entry level positions.
Courses offered in a forensic science program include:
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Court Procedure
- Criminal Psychology
A career as a forensic science technician can lead to varying specialties. Forensic science is used in all manner of test procedures that run the gamut from DNA testing to firearms scarring to soil sample examination. A forensic science technician must be careful in how he or she gathers and stores evidence, and may often be called on to offer testimony on procedure or evidence.
Forensic science technicians are typically employed by local or state governments, but can be found at the federal level as well. Technicians working in evidence gathering will have a abnormal schedule, and will typically be on call day evening, night and weekends. A lab technician will generally work normal hours, but may be on call to review gathered samples if the need arises.
Some specialties available to forensic science graduates include:
- Lab Forensics
- Computer Forensics
- Forensic Pathologist
- Forensic Psychology
- Crime Scene Investigator
Job Growth, Salary and Related Occupations
Job growth in Forensic science is expected to increase much over the next decade, much faster than the national average for jobs. This is due to the increased use of forensics in the prevention and solving crimes as well the matching rate of crime to population growth, resulting in an overall increase in criminal activity with little change in percentage. The average salary for a forensic science technician is approximately $52,000 per year.
For additional information, read our Complete Guide to a Career in Forensic Science on our blog here.