When people talk about pursuing some sort of career in forensics, they are often talking about becoming a forensic scientist, or specializing in one of the many sub-fields of forensic science.

And the idea of trying to land one of the many different kins of forensic scientist jobs available has probably increased in the past decade or so as TV shows glamorize the role played by the forensic scientists and the criminal investigator.

But are forensic scientist jobs all they’re cracked up to be?

I guess the only way to work that out for yourself is to get a bit of an understanding of the work done by the forensics scientist, and compare it to you’re own talents and interests to decide of this is the sort of job that you might want to pursue.

Forensic Scientist Job Description

Just as with any other forensics career, the job of the forensic scientist is all about the relationship between their work as a scientist and the legal and criminal justice systems

Listed below are the three key responsibilities of forensic scientists

Collecting Evidence

The first role of the forensics scientist is to assist in the collection of evidence. This evidence can come from the bodies of victims, from crime scenes, from vehicles and other objects.

Because the evidence will potentially form part of a legal case, it’s important for the forensic scientist to follow various protocols to ensure the evidence isn’t contaminated in any way that would make it inadmissible in a court of law.

Assessing Evidence

Once the evidence has been collected it then needs to be assessed using a range of forensic tools and techniques to help try and understand what happened at the scene of the crime, and hopefully identify potential suspects as well as any victims of the crime where their bodies can not easily be identified.

While the current popularity of TV shows like CSI can make it appear that all forensic scientists have amazing technology available to them, this is not always the case.

They definitely need to rely on their training and sound scientific principles, and where available the technology can certainly assist them in their job.

Providing Testimony

The third key role played by the forensic scientist has to do with providing testimony in a court of law.

Often times they’ll be called upon to provide their professional opinion about the evidence that has been collected.

They’ll need to communicate the importance of this often technical evidence to the court in such a way that it’s easily understood within the context of the case at hand.

They also need to be able to defend their assessment under cross examination.

Forensic Scientist Specialties

The field of forensic science has grown over the past few decades and there is now a large number of different types of jobs that the forensic scientist can choose to specialize in

Some of these jobs include: forensic pathology, forensic dentistry, forensic anthropology, forensic chemistry, forensic botany, forensic dactyloscopy (fingerprint analysis), forensic toxicology and more

For the majority of these fields, you will need to undertake certain degree and study requirements. Some require a medical training background, others fall more in the fields of sciences.

There are also a range of other career opportunities that technically fall within the scope of forensic science, but they wouldn’t generally be considered scientific.

Some example of these non-scientific careers in forensic science would include computer and digital forensics, forensic linguistics, forensic photography, forensic accounting and forensic psychology and psychiatry.

Forensic Scientist Salary

if you’re going to pursue a career as a forensics scientist, the potential earnings are a good thing to know.

Like with nay other job, the more specialized your knowledge, and the greater your experience the more you can expect to earn.

So lab technicians can expect to earn less than someone like a forensic anthropologist who in turn can expect to earn less than a forensic pathologist who has come from a medical training background.

As a general forensic scientists you can expect to earn in excess of $60,000, and this would increase for someone working as a pathologist or forensic dentist.

Forensic Scientists Career Opportunities

Because of the connection between the work of the forensic scientist, and the crimes they help solve, as long as there is crime there is always going to be a need for forensic scientists.

And unfortunately it doesn’t seem like there will be an eradication of crime anytime soon, so the forensic scientist jobs are here to stay.

And while they may not see the job growth of some other emerging industries they still see steady growth and career opportunities and this is unlikely to change anytime soon

So if you’re trying to work out what career to follow and you think that working as a forensic scientist might be something you’d find interesting, you can rest assured that there is always going to be a need for professionals with strong skills and an ability to communicate their findings in a court of law.


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