Online Forensic Science Degrees
In criminal justice, forensic science technicians help to solve crimes by collecting and analyzing the physical data at crime scenes, searching for clues left behind by criminals. They walk through and study crime scenes, taking pictures and gathering evidence. They also conduct laboratory work, using various means of analysis to help determine who committed a crime.
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Work Environment for Forensic Scientists
Because of the nature of the job, forensic scientists typically find themselves in two places – the laboratory where they work or out at the crime scene, collecting evidence. Obviously, a crime scene can be anywhere. The laboratory can be within a police department, a morgue, a crime lab or a medical examiner’s office.
Typically, people who enter the forensic scientist field and want to work in a laboratory will earn a bachelor’s degree in fields such as forensic science or natural science. Some who enter the field are already police officers who have graduated from a police academy. Smaller agencies in rural areas may consider those with a high school diploma and training.
Job Duties in Forensic Science
Forensic scientists are among the first group of law enforcement personnel called to the scene of a crime. They help search the scene for clues, taking photos of the crime scene and sometimes drawing sketches. They also collect any fluids or other substances that could be used to solve a case.
They also work in labs, analyzing data and running tests to determine traits of the suspect in a crime or help piece together what took place at a crime scene.
Maintaining composure is a big part of the job, as is being extremely detail-oriented. As pointed out in the occupational handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), forensic scientists cannot afford to make mistakes when collecting data at crime scenes, or during the later analysis at the lab.
Job Outlook in the Field of Forensics
The (BLS) projects the number of jobs for forensic science technicians to increase by 19 percent between 2010 and 2020, faster than the average of most other occupations. That translates into 2,400 more jobs.
The BLS warns that the field has increased in popularity due to the portrayal of forensic scientists on television, and that those with a bachelor’s degree have the better shot at earning a job.
The median pay for those who work in forensic science was $51,570 in 2010, according the BLS, although pay varies widely depending on location. The highest 10 percent of all earners made about $83,000.