When most people think about getting into forensics. they usually come from or are interested in a career with a scientific angle such as working as a forensic scientist or a forensic pathologist.

But there are also a few forensic jobs that fall outside of the sciences, and one of these is forensic engineering. As the names suggests, you need to be an engineer to enter this industry, but what is a forensic engineer, and how does their job differ from some of their counterparts who may work in industries like construction.

Forensic Engineering Jobs Explained

Any kinds of career in forensicsis all about applying the knowledge of your particular industry in a legal and criminal investigation environment.

So forensic engineering is focused on using engineering principles to gain an understanding of why buildings and other structures, as well as products and materials fail to meet their intended design purpose & specification.

This failure analysis is then used in any subsequent litigation and dispute resolution to determine such things as fault and liability.


What Do Forensic Engineers Do?

There are two key responsibilities of any forensics engineer. The first is the examination of failure, the second is providing testimony about their findings

Failure Analysis

So basically, people working in forensic engineering are looking for answers to questions such as:

  • Why did that bridge collapse?
  • Should that earthquake have caused that so much damage to a building or were there design faults involved?
  • Should that car have sustained so much damage on impact with a  certain object at a certain angle at a certain speed?
  • Why did a certain medical device fail when it did?
  • Why did an aircraft engine fail midway through a flight?
  • Why did an electrical appliance catch randomly fire?

And so on… The range of questions that need answers are virtually unlimited – where there is a product, machine, building or other structure there is always going to be failure, and a subsequent need for a forensic engineering investigation.

Providing Testimony

In many cases where a forensics engineer has carried out an investigation, there is the possibility that some sort of litigation or dispute settlement is involved.

Forensic engineers are required to summarize their findings into reports and provide testimony about their findings so that their conclusions are easily understood by people without an engineering background.

They will need to have such confidence in their  findings to defend them against questioning by parties who may dispute these findings.

How Do You Get Into Forensic Engineering?

Forensic engineering is just a specialty within engineering, and as such your first course of action will be to go through the regular education and training in order to become whatever sort of engineer you want to be.

Once you’ve completed the necessary education you will generally be best served by getting the necessary certification to work as an engineer in your state, and set to the task of getting some practical experience in your chosen field.

Forensic engineering is not typically a job that you would enter straight out of college – most people would move across into it after building up some experience.

However it might be possible for you to work with a forensic engineer and build up your experience that way, if you know from the very beginning that forensic engineering is the kind of engineering that you want to be involved in.

Forensic Engineering Salary

There are often conflicting assertions when it comes to average salaries in any industry. For an average forensic engineering salary this is definitely true. I have seen people claim average earnings are anywhere between $50,000 – $100,000.

Regardless of what the exact amount is, forensic engineers can expect to earn good money, especially if they have good experience and well recognized skills.

Forensic Engineering Jobs

If you were thinking of entering into engineering and you have the sort of mind that likes to solve problems and work out where things have gone wrong, then there’s no doubt that this could be the perfect job for you.

The career prospects are strong purely because there is always going to be a need for forensic engineering skill to ensure the continued high standards in construction and manufacturing, and to make sure that people are held accountable where failure has occurred though their own negligence.


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