What Forensic Science Career is Right for You?

Learn about what forensic scientists do, where they work and the different forensic specialties.

forensic evidence representing forensic science careers

If you're passionate about science and can stomach the gory details, there are many great forensic science careers that might be just what you're looking for.

Using science to help identify criminals and analyze evidence against them, forensic scientists are detectives with microscopes. From matching shell casings to the gun that fired them, to using hair samples to identify a suspect, forensic scientists help determine the facts of a legal case. These careers offer criminal justice jobs that will really keep you busy.

What Forensic Scientists Really Do

Forensic scientists are sometimes also referred to as criminalists, and the field is sometimes called criminalistics. While they may not be exactly as they appear on TV, forensic science careers do play a crucial role in our legal system.

Forensic scientists essentially do two things:

  • They analyze physical evidence collected at crime scenes
  • They provide expert forensic testimony before and during trials
  • Investigators collect evidence such as blood, hair samples and other trace evidence, and send it to crime labs to be examined
  • Use chemical and biological techniques to analyze the evidence and document their findings
  • Prepare reports on their findings and provide expert opinions for people within the judicial system
  • Accurately document everything they do so that their testimony holds up in court

Forensic Science Careers

There are many forensic science schools and career options to go with them. Forensic scientists can work in any one of the following fields:

  • They can become forensic scientists and work in a forensics lab evaluating trace evidence and poisons, sometimes presenting their findings at trial.
  • Those more interested in computers and technology can work in the world of computer forensics, scouring deleted hard drives for evidence that will help convict criminals.
  • You can work in forensic psychology. Forensic psychologists evaluate the psychological state of those on trial, convicts seeking parole, and witnesses, who may or may not be telling the truth.
  • Finally, there are forensic pathologist careers for students with a more scientific bent who want to learn how to identify human remains.

Workplaces

Forensic science careers offer a variety of job opportunities. Forensic scientists work in the forensic labs of such places as these:

  • Police departments
  • Sheriffs' offices
  • District attorneys' offices
  • Regional and state agencies
  • Medical examiners' offices
  • Private companies
  • Colleges and universities
  • Hospitals
  • Toxicology labs
  • Federal law enforcement agencies such as the DEA and the FBI