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How To Become A Forensic Scientist For The Police

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How To Become A Forensic Scientist In 6 Steps

So You Want To Be A Forensic Scientist?

Forensic science involves applying scientific methods and processes to solving crimes. Forensic scientists are in demand, considering that the field has developed to become an essential part of the judicial system by providing the information needed for criminal and legal evidence. The field applies most scientific principles from different major scientific fields, such as dentistry, botany, DNA, engineering, and geology. In this article, we explain how to become a forensic scientist and provide helpful guidelines on how to thrive in this role.

By Step Guide To Become A Forensic Scientist

  • Step One: Is It The Job You Expect?

    First, assess if a forensic scientist is the job you expect it to be. There is a lot of concern in forensic science organisations that television programmes such as Silent Witness, CSI and Prime Suspect have given a warped understanding of the role. Remember this is a scientist position and not an investigators position. The day-to-day work could be a lot more repetitive than television suggests it might be.

  • Step Two: Study

    You will need to gain A-levels in Biology and Chemistry, and ideally Maths and Computer Science. This range of A levels will give you the grounding needed for all aspects of forensic science. There are lots of other combinations of A-levels, based on science, that you can take that can lead to the same place. Therefore, if you have started your A-levels it is still possible for you to progress into forensic science, even if you have chosen different subjects. Even if you have taken a general science degree there are still routes into forensic science from there.

  • Step Three: Study Some More

    You will need a science degree and postgraduate forensic science qualification, or you will need a degree in forensic science. There are a lot of forensic science courses now so it is possible to gain a specialised degree without having to gain a postgraduate qualification. It is a competitive field, therefore the more detailed your knowledge and understanding, the more desirable you will be as a candidate for a post.

  • Learn What It Takes To Land A Job In Forensic Science

    Since before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle penned his first Sherlock Holmes story, people have been fascinated with how science and reason could be applied to solving crimes. As technology and methods advanced our ability to detect and analyze evidence, jobs in forensic science became viable careers.

    The advent of popular television shows like “CSI” have gotten people even more interested in such careers, so more people than ever are wanting to know how to become a forensic scientist. That means forensic science has become a popular career field, and hard work is needed to make yourself marketable enough to land the job you want.

    For those with an analytical mind, a desire to help others and a drive to succeed, a career in forensic science is a great opportunity to put your strengths to work for you.

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    Forensic Scientist Job Description

    Forensic scientists help the crime investigators by retrieving and collecting evidence and analyzing them for the case. As a forensic scientist, you will work in laboratories as well on the crime scene. Your typical job duty will include:

    • Investigate the crime scene and identify potential evidence
    • Take photographs of evidence
    • Make a blueprint of the crime scene
    • Document what you see in the crime scene evidence, the position of evidence, location, and other stuff
    • Collect crime evidence, such as blood and bodily fluid, fingerprints, weapons, and any other thing that seem suspicious
    • Perform analysis of the evidence, such as biological, chemical, and microscopic
    • Identify and connect links between evidence and crime by matching DNA, blood samples, and scientific results
    • Consult with other experts, such as doctors, oncologists, and toxicologist to understanding the evidence efficiently
    • Testify in court about your findings and analysis

    There are different types of forensic scientists in the crime investigation world, namely:

    Generalist Forensic Scientists: They are also called as crime scene investigators or criminalist. They investigate the crime scene and collect evidence.

    Forensic Chemists or Biologists: They work in laboratories and use chemicals and microscopes to examine the evidence.

    Forensic Computer Examiners or Digital Forensic Scientists: They are specialized in cracking and analyzing computer-based crimes, such as theft, scam, electronic terror, hacking, etc.

    S To A Career In Forensic Science

    How to Become a Forensic Anthropologist: Career and Salary ...

    The education and training required for a forensic science career varies depending upon the goal of the student. These steps can give aspiring forensic scientists a roadmap of where they can expect to go over the next several years.

    In most cases, a forensic scientist will need at least a bachelors degree to qualify for entry-level jobs. Forensic science technicians need a bachelors degree as well, but they can stop their education at this stage and find a solid entry-level job that will provide further training as they work. However, keep in mind that many employers prefer or insist on hiring only those who have earned a masters degree in forensic science.

    At this point, students will also decide what area they might like to specialize in for instance, a forensic science technician who wants to work with latent prints or ballistics will begin taking elective courses that focus on those areas. The student who wants to take on higher levels of responsibility, such as that of a forensic psychologist of medical examiner, should start preparing for the graduate degree.

    Those who choose to continue their education should do so by pursuing the masters degree, and later, the doctoral degree, if it applies to their career goals.

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    What Are The Different Types Of Forensic Scientist

    There are many types of forensic scientist, and your job role will depend on what you choose to specialise in. You could take a broad approach and specialise in one of three main areas: biology, which is the processing of blood, hair, DNA, etc. chemistry usually connected to crimes against property such as burglary and arson or drugs and toxicology, which is the testing for restricted drugs and poisons, examining tissues specimens and processing samples relating to alcohol.

    There are also specific specialisms such as toxicology, forensic psychology, podiatry, odontology and more. It is likely that you would become an expert in your field if you chose one of these specific routes.

    Forensic Science Jobs & Job Description

    Forensic scientists work in the civilian field of criminal investigation. Forensic scientists teach, research, and work in the field to help ensure that justice is served when a crime has been committed. While tasks do vary significantly from project to project, the scope of a forensic scientist job is listed below:

    • Develop and facilitate research methods and systems that are best fit for the crime scene that is being investigated
    • Use observations, samples, and specimens to collect data via physical measurement
    • Use digital means to record and reconstruct aspects of the crime scene
    • Review current scientific literature on an ongoing basis to stay current on developments in the forensics field
    • Record and store observations, samples and specimens collected in the lab and in fieldwork
    • Develop efficient systems to better analyze data and assist with hypotheses and visualization of events
    • Present evidence findings to internal and external stakeholders through a variety of media channels in an efficient manner
    • Provide reports for courtroom discovery and testimony
    • Communicate with senior forensic scientists, police investigators and law enforcement administrators through formal and informal reports

    A senior forensic scientist or chief researcher may have the following or similar additional responsibilities, depending on the goals of the project. These additional tasks tend to be focused on project management and budgetary management:

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    American Academy Of Forensic Science

    Television shows like CSI rarely show the paperwork side of being a forensic scientist. Detailed documentation is an important feature of all sciences, but in forensic science, its even more imperative to document details given their status as evidence in court. Post analysis, reports must be issued and, often times, forensic scientists are part of casework peer review systems at work. Providing proper documentation and paperwork is critical to the process, but perhaps considered less than exciting at the start. Once you realize how important it is, it becomes a top priority!

    Its important for any top science student, and especially a forensic science student, to be an enthusiastic learner with the following qualities: A strong work ethic, good quantitative thinking skills, be task oriented, an ability to work independently and in a team setting, have a passion for science, and have a commitment to professional ethics.

    There are a tremendous number of opportunities in forensic science. The two chief things to consider are a sub-field to pursue, and the nature of your workday.

    Forensic science is a diverse field with a variety of different niches, including forensic anthropology, biology, chemistry, physics, accounting, engineering, computer science you name it, theres likely a forensic science sub-field.

    How To Become A Forensic Scientist: Education And Skills

    Forensic Science | Margaret Pereira | How to be a Forensic Scientist | Today | 1975

    Forensic scientists work with law enforcement personnel and the justice system to study physical, biological, chemical and psychological evidence for crimes. Using the clues they find, they try to uncover further details and figure out what happened in cases related to civil, criminal and regulatory matters. They may conduct their investigation at the crime scene or assess the evidence in a laboratory, write detailed reports on their findings and testify in court about the matter, if necessary.

    In this article, we’ll review what a forensic scientist does and how to become one.

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    Obtain An Associates/bachelors Degree

    The first step is to obtain a degree from a respected program. Again, while not required, FEPAC accredited programs are the most competitive and offer hands-on experiences and better job opportunities after graduation. A certificate in forensic science is a good addition to an associates or bachelors degree. It is not strictly required for any employment opportunities but may help for graduate school applications.

    Depending on the exact position you want, you may need to move on to higher education after finishing your associates/bachelors degree.

    Forensic Scientist Job Outlook And Career Growth

    According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Forensic Science Technicians earned a median annual income of $57,850 in 2017. The job outlook for this occupation is quite bright, with growth expected to be 17%, which is much higher than the industry average. A lot of new jobs are expected to be added in the years between 2016 and 2026, so now would be a great time to plan a career in forensic science.

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    How Accurate Is Tv Forensics

    While parts of crime TV shows can be well researched and accurate, other aspects often fall a long way off the mark.

    Most shows will put some degree of effort in consulting forensic analyser companies to ensure that the lab scenes use realistic forensic equipment. However, the uncanny ability to solve most homicides within a one-hour timeslot is, as Brendan points out, unrealistic.

    “Meticulous notetaking and methodical processing of a crime scene is what ensures that evidence integrity is upheld, but isnt exactly the sexy stuff that forensics is seen to be.

    “Unfortunately, no one wants to watch a TV episode where the stars wait 50 minutes for the coroner to collect a dead body!”

    Becoming A Forensic Science Technician

    How to Become a Forensic Science Technician: Career and ...

    Forensic science technicians belong in the law enforcement community. They are trained to examine physical evidence by conducting scientific analyses on it. Their output is critical in solving crime because it provides leads and clues, and the processed data helps determine the guilt or innocence of suspects. Functions include DNA testing gunshot-residue testing confirming the presence of substances that are involved in the crime analysis of fingerprints, bloodstain pattern, body fluids and tissues, hair, fiber, handwriting, or questioned document and court appearance to testify as expert witnesses. They are generally grouped into the category of Criminologists , and their tasks are highly similar to those of crime scene investigators.

    If you are interested in working as a forensic science technician, start preparing for the recruitment process as early as possible. Take time out to study all the requirements and prospects, to see whether or not this profession is right for you.

    Below is a five-step guide on how to become a forensic science technician:

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    Training For Forensic Officers

    Once hired, both crime scene investigators and forensic science technicians get on-the-job training. For CSIs, that usually means shadowing more experienced investigators as they learn the ins and outs of the role. Each department will have its own procedures for collecting, transporting and documenting evidence, so a large part of this training will be unique to your jurisdiction.

    A forensic science technician, on the other hand, will learn in a laboratory setting after meeting the minimum degree requirements to land the job. This training typically takes less than a year and gives the technician all the lab-specific procedures for handling evidence. Before beginning work, a technician may be required to pass a proficiency exam or otherwise meet requirements for acceptance as a permanent laboratory employee.

    How To Become A Forensic Scientist In New Jersey

    The New Jersey Association of Forensic Scientists is one of the biggest providers of forensic science and investigative services in the US. With laboratories located all over the state, the Association has been a forerunner in promoting the field of Forensic Science in New Jersey. Before its founding in 1967, only the Newark City Police Department Lab and the New Jersey State Police Lab provided forensic science services. But with the growing rates of crime and population, the demand increased manifold over the years. The current State Police laboratory system, also referred to as the Office of Forensic Science has multiple laboratories. These include:

    • Central Laboratory Hamilton Technology Complex, Hamilton, NJ
    • North Regional Laboratory Little Falls
    • South Regional Laboratory Hammonton
    • East Regional Laboratory Sea Girt

    The field of forensic science is a highly technical one, requiring detailed education, training and experience. Therefore, to become a forensic scientist, you would need to invest a lot of your time, energies and efforts in the process.

    Even though this is not a requirement, it is still considered an added bonus if you are certified by an accredited forensic science association. These could be any of the following organizations:

    • Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Inc.
    • New Jersey Association of Forensic Scientists
    • Eastern Analytical Symposium & Exposition
    • The American Board of Criminalistics
    • The International Association for Identification

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    Post Graduate Courses :

    Masters degree in forensic science prepares the individuals for advanced positions within the forensic science industry. It typically has 32 40 credit hours which consists of core subjects like drug analysis, criminalistics, biological evidence, DNA analysis, trace evidence, Blood splatter patterns, and toxicology etc. Graduates should have at least 3.0 GPA to join MSc in India. Such candidates can hold senior-level jobs in various departments like crime labs, police departments, and governmental agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration, hospital labs, medical examiners offices, and pharmaceutical companies.

    Pick A Forensic Science Specialty

    I Want That Job!: Forensic Scientist

    Forensics is a vast field, and it is common for forensic scientists to specialize in a particular area. As a forensic scientist, you can choose to investigate ballistics and firearms, arson and explosives, fingerprints, trace evidence, eyewitness testimonies, accident reconstruction and bloodstain pattern analysis.

    You can carry out autopsies, dental identification, anthropological identification, drug identification and DNA analysis. You can also conduct psychological assessments of victims, witnesses and criminals, and build psychological profiles of perpetrators based on the clues they leave behind.

    Focusing on one or more of these specialties is essential for anyone interested in knowing how to be a forensic scientist.

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    Get A Forensic Science Education From An Accredited College

    A bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement for a career in forensic science, but some employers will require that you have a master’s degree or a doctorate. Higher degrees, as well as specialized training, are necessary if you want to work in more advanced forensic science fields such as forensic psychology, forensic anthropology or forensic pathology.

    Generally, the higher degree programs require you to have first obtained a bachelor’s degree and some field or work experience, but there are also hybrid programs that let you complete both degrees simultaneously.

    Most professional forensic scientists have graduate or postgraduate degrees in forensic science, toxicology, genetic engineering, biochemistry or any of the natural sciences, biology, chemistry and physics. You should also take courses in math, statistics and writing.

    Further, you should focus on learning applied research methods, fieldwork practices, legal matters and how the criminal justice system works. It will help to have good communication skills and logical thinking and analytical abilities.

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    Engage In Continuing Learning

    Consider an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree in biology, forensic science, forensic biology, or chemistry. Forensic science technicians can also join professional organizations, such as the CSFS, to stay updated with the latest investigative methods and technologies. You can take courses in evidence analysis, forensic photography, and crime scene investigation to improve your skills.

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