Forensic Science Career Guide 2020- Best Paying Jobs
The term forensic scientist does not describe a single profession rather it has many sub-species that are linked to law enforcement. The literal meaning of the term forensic means implies to the test that are conducted for the detection of crime. All the profession linked in solving the crime or to the courts falls into the category of Forensics. General forensic science jobs are the cross between the two sectors of law enforcement and medical sciences.
The bureau of labor statistics suggested 31% of growth in the field of forensics in the upcoming years. The average salary in the field of forensics is $55,000. Some fields in the forensics only require previous experience in the field of law enforcement such as evidence custodian. On the other hand, some fields require doctorate of medicine. Most of the entry level positions require a bachelor’s degree in any field of natural sciences.
So, if you are interested in pursuing your career in the field of forensics you are at the right place. This article will give you information about the forensic science jobs along with their educational requirements and the salaries that are offered on those positions.
Best Paying Forensics Science Jobs
Arson & Fire Investigator
After the fire, an arson investigation is being carried out by the professionals. These professionals collect evidence in such a way that it helps them to determine the actual cause of the incident. During the evidence collection these professionals can take photographs, record the interview of witnesses, collect finger prints and search for the accelerants.
It is the responsibility of the fire investigators to keep detailed record because their findings can be a part of prosecution in proving a miss conduct. The fire investigators are authorized to consult experts from other departments such as police, chemists and structural engineers.
Becoming an Arson & fire investigator
The minimum educational requirement for becoming a fire investigator is a high school diploma. The individuals with previous experience in the field are preferred. The fire investigators are bound to take training sessions which enhances their capability in investigation.
If you are interest to join the position, you must be US citizen and hold a valid driving license. A background history check is done which is mandatory to be passed.
According to bureau of labor statistics the employment opportunity for the job is expected to grow 6% in the upcoming four to eight years. The arson & fire investigators can be employed on government jobs as well as private sector jobs. They can work for insurance companies, private investigation firm and law attorneys.
According to the bureau of labor statistics the average annual salary of an Arson & fire investigator is $ 56,670.
In US the crimes involving firearms is increasing. The increased crime rate demands that the evidence shall be processed in such a way that it can help in determining the culprit behind the incident. Therefore it is important to have someone with background understanding in how firearms operate. This is where the ballistic experts are required. Ballistic expert is forensic specialist who is responsible for collecting and analyzing ballistic related evidences.
Ballistic is science rooted in physics. Ballistic experts are called upon to determine everything from trajectory to probable distance to angle when studying firearms. They use background information and educational knowledge to determine the actual reason behind the incidents.
Most often the ballistic experts are hired by state and federal government agencies however there might be occasions where they work as third party observers to impartially analyze the evidence.
Becoming a ballistics expert
The minimum educational requirement for becoming a ballistic expert in a bachelor’s degree, however some law enforcement agencies require a master’s degree. During the course work of the degree, an aspiring candidate must emphasis of the following topics:
- Principles of biology
- Biology laboratory
- Chemistry laboratory
- Organic chemistry
- College physics
- Calculus based physics.
After getting the degree or experience in the related field the person has to apply for the positions that are being announced. The candidate will have to go through drug test, polygraph exam and background check. The candidate will then be shortlisted by the employer.
So if you are willing to advance in the career of ballistic expert, you must undergo training program. The main focus of the training is on evidence handling, microscopy, firearms identification, crime scene searches and expert witness testimony.
The average annual salary of a ballistic expert is $50,000.
Many of the Dexter fans think that the job of Dexter is a fiction of television; however it is not the case. The Job is real field of forensic sciences and the space for new blood spatter analysts is there due to the lack of professionals in the field. Most of the bloods spatter analysts work in laboratories that are associated with law enforcement agencies and are very important part of the crime resolution particularly in the cases of homicide and violent crimes. The analysts are required to perform additional forensic science duties.
Becoming a blood spatter analyst
According to the bureau of labor statistics the minimum educational requirement for entry level position in the field is a bachelor’s degree in natural sciences. The blood spatter analysts require a meticulous a thorough understanding of blood and human body. Anatomy plays an important role in understanding the behavior of blood before and after it leaves human body. Math and environmental sciences are also important for the job of blood spatter analyst.
The interested people who do not have a bachelor’s degree can apply for open positions that require associate’s degree and work experience. The individuals have to pass back ground check and drug test. The applicants are short listed after the interviews and once selected they get the training for their jobs.
During their training a fresh employee will have to work under a senior analyst before he’s authorized to work alone. The fresh employee will have to work with an experienced person in the laboratories, visit crime scenes with him to learn about evidence collection and observe the experts testify in the court.
According to the bureau of labor statistics the Average annual salary of a blood spatter analyst is $57,850.
Computer forensics is professional who works for law enforcement agencies as well as private sector to extract information from computers and other storage devices. The devices from which the data has to be extracted are often encrypted or corrupted due to viruses. The computer forensics has the best knowledge of extraction of data from these damage storage devices.
The bureau of labor statistics stated an increased growth in the field of computer forensics. The reason for this growth in the upcoming years is due to the increased reliance of the technology by the criminals. The crimes that take place today have much more involvement of computers as it used to be. Currently the computer forensic jobs are mostly available with the law enforcement agencies and government organizations but there is an increased demand for computer forensic experts in the field of heath care, financial organizations, accounting and law firms.
Apart from the employment in government sector, the computer forensics is hired by private sector. Often, the computer forensics is tasked to secure the information of a business firm. Therefore a computer forensic does not only needs to have knowledge about storage devices rather he must also understand the networking to secure the information systems of private firms.
Becoming a computer forensic
The minimum educational requirement for the field of computer forensic investigator is a bachelor’s degree in computer forensics or similar field. The aspiring individuals have to attain a GIAC certification which basically demonstrates the knowledge of the individual about the computer forensics.
After attaining both the above mentioned requisites the individual can apply for the position of computer forensic investigator whenever the position is announced. The applicants are than short listed on the bases of interviews.
The average annual salary of a computer forensic investigator is $ 89,000
Crime Lab analyst
The crime lab analysts work in state or federal law enforcement agencies. The prime responsibility of a crime analyst is to analyze the evidences and prepare reports which can be used in prosecution against the criminals. They also communicate with the investigation teams to confirm or deny the theories made by them.
There are currently 12,000 individuals holding this job title. Some of their responsibilities are examination of polygraph exams, ballistic and firearms identification, analysis of organic and inorganic substances and toxicology screening.
Becoming a crime lab analyst
The minimum educational requirement for the job of crime lab analyst is a bachelor’s degree in forensic sciences, microbiology or any other related field. If the applicant has done an internship in a crime lab it will prove to be a huge plus for him or her.
The aspiring candidates apply for the position of crime lab analyst when they are announced. The candidate then has to go through physical examination, drug test and background check. The candidates are then being shortlisted. Once selected the candidates attend training program before they can start their job.
Many employers require previous work experience for the job of crime lab analysts. The students are highly recommended to pursue an internship. Apart from this the regular on job training sessions are being conducted. A crime lab analyst needs to be detail oriented. The crime lab analysts are required to submit their findings in the court in written and oral forms therefore a crime lab analyst must have exceptional communication as well as writing skills.
The salary for the crime lab analyst vary depending upon the area of expertise, geographical location in which he or she is working and the agency with which he or she works. Crime lab analysts with excellent computer skills and lab experience are expected to have handsome salary packages. Overall the bureau of labor statistics has projected a growth of 17 % for the field of crime lab analyst in the upcoming years.
The average annual salary of a crime lab analyst is $ 55,660
Crime Lab Technician
The crime Lab technicians work with the evidence that has already been collected. The crime lab technicians perform several tests on the evidence, process the evidence using microscopes, chemicals and other lab equipment. Some lab technician positions require performing evidence analysis in the field as well. A crime lab technician must have background knowledge about forensics and are being trained about the rules of handling the evidence during their job training.
Apart from the employers who provide on job training, there are private labs which provide training to the students as well as professionals. These private labs have contracts with law enforcement agencies therefore the experience earned there is none less than that earned during the job.
The candidates who have higher education have good job prospects. Overall the positions for crime lab technicians are expected to grow 17% in the upcoming years. This increase in the demand is primarily due to the rising forensic science methods used for the collection and processing of the evidence.
Becoming a crime lab technician
The minimum educational requirement for the job of crime lab technician is a bachelor’s degree in forensics, chemistry, biology, microbiology or any other related field. The courses for the degree that is preferred by the employers are. Toxicology, crime lab procedures, criminal justice administration, biochemistry, ontology, traces evidence and physical evidence. A crime lab technician must have good communication skill.
A Crime lab technician must be able to use microscope and have strong knowledge about chemistry and statistics. Most of the employers do not require work experience whereas if the aspiring candidate has experience it would be a huge plus.
The average annual salary of a crime lab technician is $ 41,000.
Working as crime scene investigator is possible as lab technician, crime scene technicians, and even forensic scientist. A crime scene investigator is responsible for understanding various techniques and tools that are available to find the suspects in different types of criminal cases.
Working on blood samples, evidences and individuals present on the crime scene is the responsibility of the crime scene investigators. The crime scene investigator needs to understand the various methods that are used in tracking the suspects.
Becoming a crime scene investigator
The minimum educational requirement to become a crime scene investigation is a bachelor’s degree or an associate diploma in the fields of forensic sciences and crime scene investigations. If the he course work of the degree is in law enforcement and forensic sciences it would be very helpful for an aspiring candidate, even after being selected for the job the course and theoretical frame works are going to help him out in performing his duties.
The crime scene investigation job requires the following skills.
The intuition and judgement power of an individual must be very strong. This skill is gain through years of experience of investigating the crime. As the evidence collection is quite a hectic job because it demands standing, stooping, lifting and other physical activity, therefore a person willing to become crime scene investigator must be physically fit. Moreover the person willing to become crime scene investigator must be analytical about things. He must possess ability to evaluate evidence objectively.
The bureau of labor statics projected a job growth of 7% for the field of crime scene investigator. Most often the crime scene investigators are from police department, so if you are willing to become a crime scene investigator you should see other requirement for becoming sworn police offer.
The crime scene investigator makes an average salary between 38,000 to 102,000 depending upon the title that you are holding.
Forensic DNA analyst
DNA is gaining more prominence in the field of criminology and forensic science because it is a unique genetic coding for every individual that makes him different from another human being. Due to this uniqueness of it the results obtained from it are very close to perfection. The results of DNA are considered to be more accurate than fingerprints.
A DNA analyst will performs the following duties:
- Works on the DNA collected from crime scene and make unique DNA profiles
- Compares the collected data to existing samples
- Testifies to findings in courts
- Writes reports on findings
- Maintains chain of custody
- Communicate the findings to law enforcement agencies.
The DNA analysts compare the DNA samples taken from suspects and victims to determine their presence on the crime scene. A person’s involvement into a violent crime is also being test with the help of these DNA samples. Similarly other questions of identity can also be answered by the DNA analysis.
Becoming a Forensic DNA analyst
The minimum educational requirement for the job of Forensic DNA analyst is bachelor’s degree in molecular biology, forensic sciences or any other related field. An aspiring individual must have knowledge of laboratory procedures and ways to use the equipment.
The results being obtained from DNA testing have proved too precise and perfect, it is for this reason that demand of DNA analysts is constantly growing and will continue to grow. Currently there are more than 10,000 jobs in the field of DNA. The DNA analysts work with law enforcement agencies at local, state and federal level. They also have employment opportunity in private sector. The private sector firms who have contracts with law enforcement agencies hire these DNA analysts.
According to the bureau of Labor statistics, the average annual salary of a forensic DNA analyst is $62,490.
Polygraph examining is an important tool in solving crime and identifying the suspects and witnesses. The polygraph examiners are trained to use lie detectors and provide analysis of the results. The examiners undergo a long training to nourish their skills and they are often used in internal administrative investigations of law enforcement personals.
The term poly graph means many writings. It refers to science of test in which several psychological responses are tested to see if there is any chance of deception. Introduced in 1921 the poly graph has been used for a century in criminal investigations. The phenomena works on the notion that telling a lie would cause stress at that stress can be seen is psychological behavior of the individuals
Becoming a Polygraph examiner
The educational requirement for a polygraph examiner is accredited polygraph training program, however some employers might require a bachelor’s degree. The degree shall be in the field of criminal justice, psychology, behavioral sciences, communication skills or basic law classes.
The polygraph examiners might work for law enforcement agencies or as private contractors. So if you are planning to become a polygraph examiner, you must be happy to hear that you have employment opportunity in both private and government sector.
The salary of a poly graph examiner varies depending upon his geographical location, area of expertise, experience in the field and certification that he or she has. Law enforcement agencies are police department continues to use to services of poly graph examiners as their background investigations. The poly graph examiners continue to receive highly specialized training which means that they will be in demand in foreseeable future.
The average annual salary of a polygraph examiner is $58,230
Forensic Document Examiner
Forensic document examiners help solving the crime by checking the authenticity of a document. The definition of document given by southeastern association of forensic document examiners is “Anything that has mark, sign or symbol which conveys message to someone”. The most important documents that these forensic documents examiners examine are lottery tickets, wills, bank records and letters.
The forensic document examiner needs to have knowledge about using technology that could assist him examining the document. The forensic document examiner also has the ability to determine the individual who produced fake document or a fake signature. The document examiners write a report about their findings and have to give a testimony before the court about their findings.
Becoming a forensic document Examiner
The minimum educational requirement for the job of forensic document examiner is a bachelor’s degree in any field of natural sciences. The document examiners have to go through eye sight test which is mandatory to pass. If an aspiring candidate is selected he or she has to undergo a training of two years under an expert examiner.
The forensic document examiners are mostly being hired by local, state and federal level law enforcement agencies. Some examiner establish consulting group and work as independent consultants. The used specific knowledge based to uncover the discrepancies and consistencies in documents.
The certification for the forensic document examiners is being done by American board of forensic document examiners. The requirements to have the certification are bachelor’s degree and meet the level of experience. Forensic document examiners fall into the category of forensic science technicians. The job growth for forensic document examiners is expect to increase tremendously in the upcoming years.
The average annual salary of a forensic document examiner is $57,850
A number of crimes these days involve a toxin entering into the body such as driving under the influence, drug abuse or poisoning. Detectors and law enforcement personals seek help from forensic toxicologist when they suspect a chemical substance is related to a crime.
The forensic toxicologists are responsible for analyzing samples form bodily fluids to determine the presence of absence of a harmful substance in the body. The forensic toxicologists also examine the food and the environment to determine the presence of any harmful substance. They have to work with medical examiners to establish the role of harmful chemical causing the death.
Becoming a forensic toxicologist
The educational requirement for becoming a forensic toxicologist is a bachelor’s degree in forensic sciences, chemistry, clinical chemistry or related field from accredited institute. The course work for a forensic toxicology program includes:
- General toxicology
- Principles of forensic sciences
- Applied statistics for data analysis
- Toxic substances
- Forensic medicine
- Special topics in forensic toxicology
Forensic toxicology if addressed differently at different universities. The forensic toxicology programs can often be found at the criminal justice, medicine, health sciences, and pharmacology departments. The individuals are recommended to pursue their bachelor’s degree from accredited institution by forensic science education programs accrediting commission.
The employment of the forensic toxicologists is real-time and steady. According to bureau of labor statistics the field of forensic technicians which includes forensic toxicology is expected to grow 17% in the upcoming years.
The average annual salary of a forensic toxicologist is $ 59,000
The forensic accounts are responsible finances along with the money trail. This job is the combination of two disciplines. The first one numbers and the second one is identification of corruption. So if you are good at numbers and somewhat interested in exposing the wrongdoing this career must be the best choice for you. A forensic accountant helps a private company in keeping track of their finances or work for government agencies to expose corruption and white collar crime.
A Forensic accountant needs to have a strong grip on the tax laws and must have knowledge of financial practices. Moreover the financial account needs to have report writing skills and must be able to give a testimony before the court.
Becoming a Forensic accountant
The minimum educational requirement is an undergraduate degree in finances, accounting or any other related field. The curriculum of the degree includes classes in business administration, finance, marketing, economic and statistics. Graduates with certification and master’s degree can enhance their salary and employment potential. Students who do not have majors in accounting and finance can also benefit from advanced studies by pursuing majors in these courses.
Forensic accountants have diverse employment opportunities in the market. The forensic accountants can begin at entry level positions and move up with great speed because of the fast promotions in the job of forensic accountant.
A certification will help a forensic accountant in strengthening his resume. There are various option available for forensic accountants but the two most recognized ones are, association of fraud examiner and American institute of certified public accountant.
The average annual salary of a forensics accountant is $ 70,500
Forensic anthropologists are experts of human remains and are often called to work in forensic investigations particularly in the cases where deaths have occurred due to natural disasters such as hurricane or as a result of crime. Using the knowledge of bones an anthropologist is able to determine the actual cause behind the death of a person.
The prime responsibility of an anthropologist is to deal with human remains, inspect decomposed remains as an indicator of trauma, provide biological information about the remains, compilation of reports and work in coordination with personals of law enforcement agencies
Becoming a forensic anthropologist
The minimum educational requirement for a forensic anthropologist is a bachelor’s degree. the bachelor’s degree holders can apply for entry level positions whenever they are being announced. An individual willing to join on advanced position must have a master’s degree or even a PhD degree. These degrees would help individuals in pursuing their career in the field of research or consultations. Moreover the students who are willing to pursue their career as forensic anthropologist are recommended to strengthen their resume by working with some experience forensic anthropologist.
The bureau of labor statistics projected a job growth of 10 % for the forensic anthropologists in the upcoming years. The salary of a forensic anthropologist varies depending upon the years of experience, the geographical location in which he works and the level of education that he has.
The average annual salary of a forensic anthropologist is $50,165
Forensic Odontologist (Dentist)
Odontology is a branch of science that deals with the teeth. The forensic odontologist are called by detectives and law enforcement individuals when a dental evidence if found. Forensic odontology has played a crucial role in solving important high profile cases in the past including the conviction of notorious killer Ted Bundy. Therefore the role of forensic odontologist cannot be denied when solving a crime.
The prime responsibility of forensic odontologist is to collect evidence from the crime scene whenever they are being called. After carefully collecting the evidence, they analyze and perform tests on them to draw certain conclusions.
The minimum educational requirement for the job of forensic odontologist is education of dentistry. There are various steps which a person has to take before he can call himself forensic odontologist. After completing the doctoral degree in forensics, the student has to complete residency in forensic odontology. After they have achieved the required experience they are eligible to get certification from American board of forensic odontology certification. An Aspiring candidate must have knowledge of forensics if not; he has to take training before he joins the job.
The bureau of labor statics classifies the forensic odontologists into the category of dental specialists. During the upcoming years, jobs of forensic odontologist are expected to grow by 16 %.
The salary of a forensic odontologist varies depending upon his experience, the geographical location in which he is working and the agency he works for. The dentists usually prefer to work as independent entity and are hired by law enforcement agencies.
The average annual salary of a forensic odontologist is $156,240
Forensic psychologists use the principles of psychology to work with attorneys, judges and other legal specialists to help them understand the psychological aspects of the cases. Additionally the forensic psychologist deal with emotionally unstable people therefore the job can be physically and mentally demanding.
They appear in the courts as witnesses, work on emotional stabilization of Children who have bee abused, create plans for rehabilitation of criminals as wells as the victims and provide curriculum to the correction institutions.
Becoming a forensic psychologist
The job of forensic psychologist demand advanced study as well as licensing. To deals with patient, a forensic psychologist needs to have a doctoral degree. In addition to the education every state has its own licensing requirements. The specific requirements vary from state to state, but previous work experience and doctoral degree is required by most licensing authorities.
Along with other forensic professions the demand for forensic psychologist is expect to grow in the upcoming years. Bureau of labor statistics projected a job growth of 19 % for the forensic psychologists. The increased in salary and demand for the forensic psychologists will keep attracting many students to pursue their career in the field of forensic psychologists.
Apart from the job, forensic psychologists have perk of becoming sel employed. It is completely up to the will of the person to choose between the two. A forensic psychologist can have a Private clink where he treats the patients.
The income of forensic psychologist depends upon his experience, geographical location where he works and the reputation that he has in the market.
The average annual salary of a forensic psychologist is $ 79,010.