Anyone looking to take their interest in forensics and turning it into a career needs actionable information on the right steps to take in order to make it a reality. You may not have been privy to information on the requirements and the various job categories in the forensic profession. This article fixes all that, you will also find out that most forensic jobs have several things in common.
For example, the personal or characteristic qualities required for a successful forensic career, whether you are working in laboratories or poring through documents and financial records, are fundamentally the same. At the end of the article, you will find it easier to figure out what department suits you best and what you need to get a job in the forensic system.
Qualities you need for a forensic science job
There are personal skills that you can develop to help you become a successful forensic scientist. Even if you have started your career, you might want to think about developing these skills to help you be more efficient at any forensic science job.
- IT (Information Technology)
- Interpersonal skills & communication
- Time management & Organization
- Attention to detail & Accuracy
- Handle pressure and stressful situation
All of these skills fit well with the nature of the job. You are going to be handling a lot of data, putting them through tests and fact checks because accuracy is vital. Therefore, developing these skills will help you put your knowledge to good use and achieve the results you want with a minimal error margin.
List of forensic science jobs
Forensic science jobs deal with analyzing and interpreting data and materials gotten from a crime scene to be able to solve cases with law enforcement. These data can come in different forms depending on the criminal case, hence the need for different sub-departments. The following are examples of forensic science jobs and what you need to get one
1. Forensic scientist
Forensic scientists are required to analyze data and samples collected from crime scenes to be able to come up with answers that solve mysteries. Their work can be limited to laboratory research and tests and could extend to collecting data from the scenes by themselves and having to testify in court. Forensic scientists carry-out operations like analyzing blood samples, fingerprint testing, etc. they are known to handle sensitive material and to be able to uphold a confidential agreement. They also need to have a good background in science-related fields.
Hence, forensic science job ads will ask for a BSc or higher qualification in a science course like chemistry, physics, biology, forensic science, medical degrees, etc. In addition to this, they will also need a background in criminology. These jobs range from entry-level positions to experienced positions depend on the ads and current availability. It will also help if there is a previous internship experience, which explains why some people start off working as laboratory assistants, then work their way up.
Job availability is often in federal or state organizations, where you can work in their criminal labs. There are few opportunities in private organizations, and even so, these organizations work with federal and state bodies. In addition to getting the right educational background, belonging to necessary associations, having other forensic scientists’ qualifications like certifications and experience put you in the right place. Jobs are often posted on the AAFS website and membership is available to help you stay abreast of new information, trends, and forensic science internship opportunities.
Forensic science specialists work closely with law enforcement to solve crime. For more information about forensic sciences careers visit the website of DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Administration). The salary of forensic scientists who works with the federal sector is stated as the highest-paid according to the US Bureau of labor statistics. Job availability in this sector is expected to grow by up to 14% in demand over the next decade. Which means now is as good a time as any to look forward to a career as a forensic scientist.
2. Forensic psychologist
Like other psychologists, forensic psychologists have to analyze and interpret different behavioral patterns as well as navigate psychological well-being in a way that benefits the legal system. This means that they often have to work with witnesses, prisoners, jury, and litigation parties. Their jobs can be preventive and involve counseling which brings about successful rehabilitation of criminals into society. They also help interpret psychological patterns to help come up with suspects, explain motives, and spot criminal tendencies early. With the help of background knowledge in psychology, they can properly serve in this role.
It is thereby pertinent for forensic psychology job ads to require a background education in psychology and criminal law.
Some different educational achievements and certifications can help you pave a path as a forensic psychologist. They include a BSc in psychology for entry-level positions, degrees in forensic psychology, a law degree, and a state license. These certifications can be gotten at bachelors’ level, master’s level, or doctorate level. Each progression broadens your specialization and relevance in the field. In addition to certification and education, a forensic psychologist does not often start off working as one, there needs to be an introduction to the system through available internships and job placements in places that require criminal psychology.
Dr Burchett: Forensic Psychology – From CSUMB Psychology
Jobs for forensic psychology careers can be found in prisons, in the courthouses, police stations, law firms, juvenile detention, etc. therefore, seeking entry-level jobs and internships in any of these places is a good start. In addition to these, you need to obtain the necessary license to practice in your state. This involves joining the professional bodies required for health and psychology. Jobs as criminal psychologists can also be done privately; as consultants for family, law enforcement, adult individuals, ad neuropsychologists, etc.
You can look up the many opportunities for a forensic psychologist to branch off and the different job roles.
The salary earned by forensic psychologists depends on whether you work for governmental bodies or you a private practitioner. It also depends on your state and you can look up. how much different US states are willing to pay forensic psychologists and check this for salary expectation for forensic psychology jobs in the UK.
3. Computer forensic analysts
With a rapid increase in cybercrime from 2012, the role of computer and data analysis to solving crime has become vital, therefore, this branch of forensic science – computer forensic analysts are in charge of making this possible. They are charged with the role of analyzing data from a computerized device under approved legislative procedures.
The data can be in different formats; video, links, IP addresses, hardware, and software recovery, audio files, etc. to be able to do this, every computer forensic analyst must possess certain skills related to IT and computer science. Which makes a strong education and experience an essential requirement for getting a good computer forensic job. At the end of the day, they may be required to testify in court, as well as submit reports about their discoveries and analysis.
What Is It Like to Work In Cybersecurity Forensics? – From Ask Nato Riley
To start your education, you should get a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, criminal law, computer forensics, and related fields. You can get the education from either universities or institutes that train for this specific purpose, like InfoSec Institute. Afterward, you should seek out certifications, internships, and job placements in the relevant fields. There are several certifications from GIAC that will give you an advantage as a candidate for any forensic job ad.
Since 1970 digital forensic has evolved to protect us from cyber criminal.
Overview of Digital Forensics – ISACA HQ
Jobs in this field come with titles like digital forensics, cyber forensics, etc. and they can be found with any governmental investigation, security, and intelligence agencies. Keep in mind that you should be prepared to stay updated and ready to learn and grow in this field because technology is constantly growing, and so are its related crimes. With a good educational background, certification and growth mindset, expect a salary for computer forensic jobs to start from $50000.
4. Forensic anthropologist
Forensic anthropologists are professionals that play the role of identification and analyzing human remains to solve criminal cases. They might have to identify human remains at a crime scene, find the cause of death, and identify anthropologic details of the different specimens. In 2010 it was officially added as a unit under the FBI with in-house professionals and laboratories to help solve criminal cases. Since this service is a highly specialized one that requires particular skill and knowledge, every forensic anthropologist must have the necessary background education besides criminal law.
You can start by getting an anthropology educational background or majoring in criminal law. Getting undergraduate degrees in general related science like archeology, physical anthropology, forensic science, biology, and so on are also accepted. Afterward, you can proceed to study forensic anthropology to help you specify for the job. You can get degrees from universities and get your certifications from ABFA.
Katharine Pope: Forensic Anthropology – From American Anthropological Association
If you are interested in becoming a forensic anthropologist, you can find more information on the website of American Anthropological Association. They include entry-level and experienced placements from both private and governmental agencies. If you are looking to work with the government, you might not see jobs specified as ‘Forensic anthropologist jobs’, what you might see are openings for anthropologists and archeologists. You can also decide to join the academia by looking for research associate jobs like this one with SNA International. However, the median annual salary of a forensic anthropologist is about $60000, which improves as you climb up the ladder.
5. Forensic accountants
Forensic accountants are specialized with following money tracks and uncovering fraud and the perpetrators. This job description involves a lot of attention to details, auditing and often dealing with a large amount of data. Sometimes fraud cases can go on for years before being solved and uncovered, however, as a forensic accountant, your job is to specialize in a small audit.
You might have to go over family financial records, profit and loss statements, etc. and give a detailed report. You might not always have to solve fraud but rather settle a financial dispute like in divorce cases. In general, only a small percentage of forensic accountants have to work on major financial and organizational fraud, and your role depends on whom you work for and their specialization.
What does a forensic accountant do? – From AICPA
Since a forensic accountant is required to go through spreadsheets, account statements, profit and loss statements, tax reports, and so on. the job requires a knowledge of accounting, business, and audit. In addition, you must be certified as a public accountant according to your state’s requirements. As a beginner, you need to get your undergraduate degree in accounting, or business and proceed to study criminal law. With an accounting or business degree, you can work for law firms, courthouses, etc. and then upgrade your education if you desire.
Being a member of FASNA will help you stay aware of news and trends in your field. A new forensic scientist can expect a salary of $50000 to $80000 annually with a chance to move up the career ladder and grow potential earnings to $150000 according to the US BLS. Getting a Master’s certification and experience in relevant fields is a way to progress as a forensic accountant. You can search for jobs with forensic accounting firms like Deloitte, PWC, EY, KPMG, etc. or you can work for the FBI. If your goal is to work for the FBI, you can find more information on the website of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
6. Forensic analysts
Forensic analysts have been trained to handle data in legally permissible ways that can make them valid in a court. There are policies and procedures that forensic analysts must follow to be able to come up with reports that the court of law can accept. Therefore, they need to have prior education in relevant courses to be able to perform this role. They do not only analyze the data; they are charged with data collection and preservation. Therefore, they have to go to crime scenes to collect the likes of fingerprints, blood, weapons, cameras, and recordings, etc. Detailed information on the job description of forensic analysts can be found on the Better team website.
Forensic DNA Analyst describes his path to a successful career in STEM – From IREXdc
To become a forensic analyst, you often have to get a degree (diploma, undergraduate, Masters, or Doctorate) in legal fields. For example, criminal law, criminal justice, forensic science, sciences, etc. In addition to the educational background, you need to have a clean background, gain experience, and take the physical assessment required. Most of the expertise you will get as a forensic analyst will be gotten from field training. Therefore, you can start looking out for criminalist jobs right from when you are still in school.
Forensic analyst jobs are often labeled as crime lab analysts; therefore, this should be a keyword used when job searching. The US BLS estimates a median annual salary for forensic analysts to be about $58000, and that the number of available jobs in this field should grow over the next couple of years. Job vacancies for crime lab analysts or other forensic jobs are often put up on AAFS (American Academy of Forensic Sciences) among other job websites. Note that you might be also be required to handle computer data and not just biological data. You must be able to prepare reports on data being handled.
7. Forensic technician
Forensic technicians help out with criminal cases by handling evidence and analyzing them. This job can either be done on the crime scene or in the laboratory and it often depends on the kind of evidence being dealt with. Under the tag of a ‘forensic technician,’ there are different types of forensic scientists. Usually, people decide where to go based on their interests and qualifications. You should know that working as a forensic lab technician means that your work hours will be the usual 8hrs during the day, however, working on crime scenes are different. You may be called to scenes at odd hours, you might also have to manage and take on office responsibilities at odd hours; it depends on your employment contract.
Day in the Life – Forensic Technician Sarah Finch – From City of Fayetteville, NC Government
The job description for forensic technicians working on crime sites is also different from those working in labs. Eventually, you can advance to a managerial level which will mean reduced hands-on responsibilities. To get a forensic technician job, you need a strong background in the sciences. This means that you can take an undergraduate program in general sciences like biology, physics, chemistry, etc. and specialize with a Masters’ degree in forensic science. It is also possible for police officers and other legal practitioners to move to become a forensic technologist.
Job ads for forensic technicians are available on Crime Scene Investigation network, on ,Jooble, etc. The 2019 salary projection for forensic technicians starts at $58000, for entry-level job positions.
In conclusion, working as a forensic scientist is a stable field with opportunities to advance in your career. Also, you can build a career that offers a lot of self-fulfillment in the long run. Almost anyone can start working as a forensic scientist because of the modest entry-level jobs; you can start right after getting a diploma. Jobs in this field are usually interesting because of the diverse nature of crime and growing or making a switch to another employer is often easy. In some cases, a forensic scientist can work as independent consultants. With the seven different forensic scientist jobs listed here, you can easily pick one that interests you.