A forensic scientist gathers physical evidence from crime scenes. He or she then analyzes that evidence to help in the investigation of the crime. Forensic scientists are sometimes called crime scene investigators
or forensic science technicians.
In 2008, 13,000 people were employed as forensic scientists. They worked primarily for state and local governments.
Many employers prefer applicants who have at least two years of specialized training or associate degrees in applied science or science-related technology. Others prefer applicants with bachelor's degrees in chemistry
, or forensic science
. Career preparation is also available through two year formal training programs that combine the teaching of scientific principles and theory with practical hands-on application in a laboratory setting with up-to-date equipment.
Why Do You Need to Know About Educational Requirements?
Science technicians must have strong communications skills. Technicians should be able to work well with others. Organizational ability, an eye for detail and skill in interpreting scientific results are also important.
Technicians usually begin work as trainees in routine positions, under the direct supervision of a scientist or a more experienced technician. As they gain experience, technicians take on more responsibility and carry out assignments under only general supervision, and some eventually become supervisors.
Why Do You Need to Know About Advancement?
Forensic scientists earned a median hourly wage of $24.75 and a median annual salary
of $51,480 in 2009 .
Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much forensic scientists currently earn in your city.
A Day in a Forensic Scientist's Life:
On a typical day a forensic science technician might perform some of the following duties:
- examine, test, and analyze tissue samples, chemical substances, physical materials, and ballistics evidence, using recording, measuring, and testing equipment;
- interpret laboratory findings and test results to identify and classify substances, materials, and other evidence collected at crime scene;
- collect and preserve criminal evidence used to solve cases;
- confer with ballistics, fingerprinting, handwriting, documents, electronics, medical, chemical, or metallurgical experts concerning evidence and its interpretation;
- reconstruct crime scene to determine relationships among pieces of evidence;
- prepare reports or presentations of findings, investigative methods, or laboratory techniques;
- testify as expert witness on evidence or laboratory techniques in trials or hearings;
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Science Technicians, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos115.htm (visited November 22, 2010).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Forensic Science Technician, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/19-4092.00 (visited November 22, 2010).
Should You Become a Forensic Scientist? Take a Quiz to Find Out.