How to Become a Forensic Scientist

Learning how to become a forensic scientist could lead you to an exciting degree in criminal justice. Forensic science is unique in that it combines science and the law to determine the events that led up to a crime. Forensic scientists have to know about scientific procedures and crime scene investigation in order to get through their day to day work. If you have a passion for both of these fields, you may be a perfect candidate for working as a forensic science technician. Here is a step by step guide to show you how to become a forensic scientist.

Getting an Education

In order for you to become a forensic scientist, you will need to go through a degree program related to your field of study. Some colleges actually offer a forensic science degree, and others offer degrees that simply relate to the field. Those degrees may include chemistry, biology, or physics programs. You should not need more than a bachelor’s degree to begin work as a forensic scientist, but some students get master’s degrees or higher to work in education or research. For the most part, you can expect to spend four years getting your forensic science education before working in the field.

Common courses in a forensic science degree program include:

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Criminal Law
  • Detection and Recovery of Human Remains
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Forensic Biology
  • Forensic Entomology
  • Forensic Photography
  • Genetics
  • Histology
  • Intro to Probability and Statistics
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Narcotics and Drug Abuse
  • Physical Forensic Sciences
  • Sex Crimes

These courses may be supplemented with others related to crime scene investigation, like DNA sampling and chemical analytics. You can check with a school you are interested in for more information about the courses you may take in your degree program.

After your degree program, you can choose whether or not you want to take the time to get a forensic scientist certification. This will require you to pass an exam that showcases your skills in laboratory experimentation. While this is not a requirement to work as a forensic scientist, it will make you look better when you go to apply for a job. You should certainly look into certification if you want to find the best job possible right out of college.

Finding a Job

Once you have a degree in forensic science, you can begin looking for work in a crime lab. Many forensic scientists will start off as interns until they get the hands-on training they need to work just like anyone else. If you want to jump straight into work though, you will need to find out what sort of forensic science jobs are available in your area. You can look on the web and in local papers for some information, but you will probably have the best results if you contact crime labs and law enforcement offices in the area. Those places should be able to point you in the right direction.

You will need to have a resume ready to give to your potential employers, so make sure you have that prepared in advance. Your resume should include:

  • Objective: A brief statement explaining why you want to be considered for a certain position.
  • Accomplishments: A list of awards and leadership positions you have held in the past.
  • Education: A list of schools you have attended, as well as the degrees or certifications you hold from those schools. Start with the most recent education and work your way down.
  • Work Experience: A list of any internships, seminars, or other programs you may have participated in to become a forensic scientist.
  • References: Professors and previous employers who would recommend your services to someone else.

With your resume in hand, all you will need to do is fill out a job application at a place hiring near you and hope you get called in for an interview. Explain your skills during your interview, and try to show your potential employer that you can in fact handle the task at hand. If he or she thinks you are capable of working in the lab, you will be a part of the criminal justice system in no time. Then you can help others learn how to become a forensic scientist just like you.

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