Forensic scientists use the scientific method to gather and analyze material to be used as evidence by law enforcement and in court proceedings. Forensic scientists work both in the field, where they are trained to recover potential evidence, and in the forensic laboratory, where they examine that evidence and make determinations regarding its provenance. They must always engage in research to stay up-to-date with advances in the field to produce written analyses of their findings, sometimes called Certificates of Analyses, and may be called on to testify as expert witnesses in a court of law; many also train law enforcement personnel regarding forensic evidence at crime scenes. Forensic scientists typically work for state and local governments, but may work at the federal level or for private providers of forensic services.
This position can be considered interdisciplinary, as evidence-gathering and analysis can involve a broad range of academic disciplines. Typically, forensic scientists have backgrounds in biology, molecular biology, chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, and the academic discipline of forensic science itself. A bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement for this position, and some employers may require a master's degree; most employers prefer candidates who have prior experience in a forensic laboratory. A valid driver’s license is also required.
Additional requirements vary depending on the nature of the forensic scientist’s position. These positions are usually specialized into a given subfield, such as controlled substances, fingerprints, toxicology, firearms, trace evidence, DNA, or digital evidence. Some positions may have associated national qualifications which are desired in applicants, such as the International Association for Identification certification for fingerprint work.
Forensic Scientist Tasks
Prepare laboratory reports and may testify in court.
Collect, store, protect, and analyze physical evidence from crime scenes to aid investigation.