Forensics refers to jobs that are done in relation to the detection of crime. The term does not refer to a single job but a variety of jobs that are done during an investigation. With increasing interest in the field of forensics, it is expected that there will be a 27% increase in the number of jobs in this field by the year 2024. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, this increase is higher than the national average.
In order to work as a professional in this field, it is imperative to understand the educational qualifications that individuals need to have when entering into the field of forensics. This field requires technical know-how since it deals with very sensitive issues pertaining to the field of law. For that purpose, it is very important that a person has a degree in this field from an accredited institute. This ensures that a person is equipped with the right knowledge and expertise that he needs to have in order to go ahead and succeed in this field.
Written below are a few courses that you need to study if you want to have a good chance of getting a job in the field of forensics.
Behavioral Statistics Lab
Interview and Interrogation
Criminal Behavior Analysis
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality
Professional Ethics in Psychology
Capstone Research Project
Psychology Major Electives
The educational qualifications might get your foot in the door, but to open the door and make your way inside, you need to have some work experience. For this, candidates that are looking to apply for jobs in the field of forensics need to have some experience of working in a lab. This is so that they are aware of how the different processes work in the lab.
Laboratory experience can be gained by working in a hospital lab as an intern, or even in a chemistry lab or with the police force in your local district. If your local police force has a forensics lab, that can be a great place to intern as you’ll be working right in the thick of it.
Working with the police for a short period of time can also help gain relevant experience of how to work in a legal setting and deal with criminal cases.
A few skills are needed to ensure that a person can do this job effectively. Some of the necessary skills are listed below.
Attention to detail
Strong sense of teamwork
Types of Jobs in Forensics
The forensics field is a vast one. There are a number of jobs that come under the umbrella of the forensics term. A few of them are listed and explained below in detail.
This job mainly entails being in the field. It involves the person studying the crime scene in detail while being at the location of the incident. The crime scene investigator has to gather all the data and evidence from the crime scene. They need to make sure that they get to the evidence first to ensure that valuable evidence is not removed or tampered with in any way.
Alongside that, crime scene investigators ensure that the information is documented so that it is in the record. This includes inspecting details such as the body’s condition, the scene where it was found, other adjoining cues, and so on. Bodily fluids, hair, and tissues of a crime victim are also part of the deal. Documentation is another crucial part of the crime scene investigation. It’s incredibly important that everything is documented so that the right evidence can be used to catch the culprit and bring them to justice.
The investigator might also have to work in environments that are not safe. The weather might not always be suitable for them; like conditions of extreme cold or heat. This job requires a person to have a degree in forensic science or experience for a short period as a police officer.
A forensic photographer mainly deals with recording crime scenes in a series of photographs. They preserve the physical evidence in a criminal case by taking photographs that can be used to examine the crime scene again without having to actually visit the location. These photographers must be well versed with different types of equipment that are used for forensic photography. This includes infrared or ultraviolet lights and different types of imaging tools. They may also be required to prepare the photographs that are used in criminal courts.
Taking pictures of the victims and their injuries also comes as part of the job description of a forensic photographer. These are then used by medical examiners or doctors to find out the real cause of death or severe injury, whichever the case in concern might be. If a person wants to pursue a career in this field, then they should have a high school diploma related to forensics and photography. A degree in photography would also suffice. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the annual salary for photographers in 2015 was $31,710. Also, the employment of photographers, in general, is expected to grow by approximately 3% by 2024.
Forensic analysts are also known as forensic technicians. The job of a forensic analyst is to perform scientific tests on the evidence that has been collected. They work with law enforcement agencies and recover data like documents and emails from computer hard drives. They also test bodily fluids from the crime scene to check if they match that of the person in consideration. Part of the whole process also involves checking the fluids to check if they have any trace of drugs or toxins in them that could have possibly led to the death of the victim.
This job requires a person to come into direct contact with dangerous substances. It is necessary that a forensic analyst is clad in protective clothing to ensure his or her safety. They must also follow all safety and security guidelines in order to make sure that they do not put themselves at any sort of risk.
For a person to qualify for this job, they must have a forensic investigation degree or a degree in another scientific discipline. For those who deal with DNA testing in crime scenes, it is necessary for them to have a degree in biology.
Ballistics experts do all their work in a laboratory. They analyze the information collected from the crime scene to arrive at a reasonable conclusion. They specialize in firearms analysis and perform various tests on bullets or bullet fragments to find out about the type of gun that was used by the culprit (if one was used). They also conduct tests to find out if the gun of the suspect matches that of the gun used in committing the crime.
Part of a ballistics expert’s responsibilities is to find out the angle from which the victim in the crime scene was shot. This requires them to actually fire guns in secure areas in order to test the situation correctly. For this, they wear protective attires and also follow all safety guidelines in order to be safe and to not put others in danger. In addition to all of that, a ballistics expert might also have to work with computer-aided design programs, laser measuring tools, and photogrammetry.
They are also needed to lift fingerprints from the shell casings or to help collect DNA samples from expended rounds. In order to qualify for this job, a person should have a degree in forensic investigation, criminology, or criminal justice. They must also have sufficient knowledge of physics and math so that they can work with factors such as bullet trajectory.
Another name for this job is bloodstain pattern analyst. By the year 2020, it is expected that a lot more positions will open up for this job. This job has become popular mostly through TV shows. It can pay very well as compared to the rest of the jobs in the forensic sector. In this field, the analyst works on blood evidence that is collected on-site and in the laboratory. They analyze the location and shape of the bloodstains, drops, and puddles in order to gather the maximum amount of information that they can.
This is especially useful if a person is murdered using a sharp or a blunt object, which produces a lot of blood splatter. Blood splatter analysts collect trace evidence, click photographs, and create reports and simulations. They might also be called to the crime scenes to gather evidence from the location itself. At times, the evidence is invisible to the naked eye. In this case, they collect evidence using ultrasonic lighting or swabs.
Blood spatter analysts make use of the blood splatter patterns to give information about the number of wounds the victim suffered and how the events happened in a violent crime scene. To get into this field, a candidate needs to have a degree in criminal justice or forensic science.
This job deals with fires, what started them, and whether or not a fire was accidental or deliberate. They take photographs, interview witnesses, track fingerprints, and identify accelerants during the course of a fire investigation. They are required to keep detailed records since their findings are often used by insurance companies to decide whether or not to compensate a victim of fire damage for their loss.
Their main job is to find out the main cause behind the fire. They also arrest suspects and prepare evidence for court proceedings. These workers mainly work for the state, the firefighting agencies, or law enforcement agencies. To qualify for this job, a person should have a master’s degree. They can also work as self-employed consultants. If a person has prior experience in this field, they are highly preferred above the rest. A few required traits for this job are strong attention to detail, independent problem solving, command over math, and good communication skills.
This job entails a wide range of activities that include ethical hacking, procedures to protect data privacy, oral and written communication to legal courts, protection of digital evidence and searches conducted both on-site and in the lab. People in this field are required to know how to use forensic tools in order to get data out of a system, secure a system in a way that it cannot be tampered with, recover deleted or hidden data, unlock digital images that are deliberately kept hidden and perform stringent security checks.
Those who want to work in this field should have the technical know-how of encryption, operating systems, data retrieval software and server administration. In order to work in computer forensics, it is imperative that a person has a degree in forensic science along with detailed knowledge of information technology. A few top universities of the world now offer degree programs that are dedicated solely to computer forensics.
A few skills that are needed in order to have a successful career in this field are an analytical personality, strong command over technology and good communication skills.
Crime Scene Technician
This is a very fast-growing field, and a lot of people have lately been showing interest in it. A crime scene technician is required to work with