Forensic Scientists are considered experts in their field and often must testify in court to explain their analysis and the significance of their findings. To become a forensic scientist requires continual learning, however for those just starting a career in forensic science, a Bachelor’s Degree in any field is often acceptable. An advanced degree or an emphasis in science classes is beneficial to the initial hiring process.
Due to the rising popularity of forensic science brought about by several successful television series, several colleges and universities are now offering courses specializing in forensics and legal studies. These courses can certainly help you when you look for a job as a forensic scientist but they are not required. Certain specialties in forensic science require specific classes, for example, Genetics, Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry are required for DNA analyis. If you are interested in a becoming a forensic scientist, it is best to check with nearby forensic laboratories before applying to see if they have any advice for you that may be unique. Laboratory experience is also helpful in addition to a degree, even if it’s not in a forensic lab. Some agencies offer internships which is an excellent way to get started.
A “discipline” refers to a specialized area of expertise in forensic science. Examples of disciplines are question documents, fingerprint analysis, DNA analysis, and drug chemistry. Most forensic laboratories enroll scientist in their own training program designed for their discipline immediately after hiring. Everything about the forensic specialties is taught to the trainee after they are hired. Laboratories strive to have a certain number of scientists with advance degrees. For example, laboratories accredited with ASCLD require that a lead DNA analyst have a minimum of a master’s degree. So while it’s possible to be hired with only a Bachelor’s degree, those with a Master’s or phD do have an advantage.
If you are interested in becoming a forensic scientist, the first thing you need to do is learn about the various disciplines and descide which one intests you. Contact the forensic laborartory in your area and ask about their requirements and hiring opportunities. Forensic labs are found in nearly all states and privately owned laboratories exist as well. On a national level in the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operates a forensic science laboratory and hires trainees as well.
A good education is required to become a forensic scientist and it’s crucial to take your studies seriously if you want to succeed. A career in Forensic Science is highly competitive and very demanding. Not only are good grades important, but you must also be willing to continue your education throughout your career.