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What Does a Forensic Scientist Do

Kundan Pandey
Forensic scientists form the integral parts of crime investigation teams these days. Without their expertise, it is virtually impossible to track the criminals in complex cases and punish them. Here's a brief overview on what are the duties of a forensic scientist.
Forensic science jobs are the hottest career options in today's world. With the advent of computer forensics, this multi-faceted science has evolved as one of the most diversified fields in the legal system. Given the depth and complexity of these jobs, it is not uncommon to find people curious regarding the job duties of forensic scientists.
A forensic scientist examines and analyzes all the evidences gathered at a crime scene. Depending on the area of specialization, responsibilities of a forensic scientist may vary significantly. Owing to the multitude of specializations in forensic science, it can be quite confusing to choose a particular subject.
But since the core issue of selecting a specialization comes at the doctoral level in the educational career of a prospective forensic scientist, it becomes easier for students to choose it, since they have already been exposed to a vast number of topics.

Job Description

Typically, a forensic scientist works in a lab environment in law enforcement agencies. His duties include report writing and examining evidences. Usually, he may also be expected to be present in the court to act as expert witness. It is a general misconception that forensic scientists collect evidences at a crime scene.
The fact is that evidence collection is a minor part of a forensic scientist's profession and in most of the legal agencies, there are trained personnel known as crime scene examiners who collect the evidences.
Forensic scientists only visit the crime scene under urgent needs or to understand the case better else they remain engrossed in the lab works during most of their working time.
A forensic scientist works in the area of his or her specialization. While a forensic anthropologist may apply his knowledge to examine skeleton and bone remains found on the crime spot, a forensic toxicologist will find out if toxic substances have been used during the crime or they may also assist coroners in postmortem investigations.
Another lesser known aspect of forensic jobs is that they're helpful in criminal cases other than involving murders and violence. In fact, forensic scientists play pivotal role even in cracking cases of theft, robbery, extortion, fraud and numerous other investigation areas overseen by the police department officials.

Job Requirements

Minimum bachelor's or associate degree is essential for any entry-level job in the forensic field. Right from your undergraduate years, you should be focused on studying natural sciences.
Your aim should be to grasp concept of sciences properly. In your graduation years, you may obtain a degree in forensic science, toxicology, chemistry, biology, criminology or any other specialty that interests you. A B.S. or B.A. is generally considered to be an essential requirement for all forensic jobs.
For several specializations and advancements, it is always advisable to go for a master's degree in your chosen field. A PhD in any specialization is always great for career enhancement. The value of work experience and internships can't be underestimated.
As aspirants of forensic scientist profession, you must be willing to go the extra mile and do some internships in lab agencies. Your teachers and college placement cell can help you to get access to information about labs that recruit interns. Mostly, on the job experience matters a lot.
Excellent written and oral communication skills are necessary to achieve success in this field. Report writing, scientific presentations and note taking skills are the key skills that can help you go a long way in this career.
Besides these talents, you're expected to display a keen sense of interest in your work and high levels of integrity and curiosity.
As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there is going to be a 14% growth rate in terms of employment in between 2018 - 2028 for forensic scientists. This is certainly a positive sign of immense potential in the forensic science profession.
The salary range of Forensic scientists oscillates between US$40,000 to US$120,000 per year for scientists with one to fifteen years of experience. As you can observe, this is certainly a good amount and is again a sign of rewarding career in this field.
Focus, concentration, an eye for detail and total dedication towards the job are vital to gain an edge in the forensic science field.