Forensic scientists work in labs where they examine, identify, and interpret evidence collected in crime scenes. Crime scene investigators collect evidence and pass it to a forensic scientist who uses the items in numerous ways to help catch criminals. Forensic scientists must also record the evidence and any tests ran on it in detail to prove the truth in court. A forensic scientist also has to be able to present his or her physical evidence verbally in court, so a strong communication background is important.
The first step taken to become a forensic scientist is to first pass the education required to become one. The education level chosen depends on what kind of forensic job you are interested in and what salary you are going for. Most entry-level forensic positions require a bachelor’s degree in forensic or natural science (Anne 1996). Undergraduate programs consist of toxicology, biochemistry, and criminal justice classes. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences also recommends English classes. This is because forensic scientists need very honed written and oral communication capabilities to write detailed reports and testify physical evidence in court.
Some labs might even require a master's degree in forensic science for more advanced positions, like a lab technician leader or supervisor. If you attain a master’s degree you can also choose a specialty like ballistics, forensic engineering, toxicology or digital and multimedia sciences. Most of these specialty programs include a thesis class as well, for the ability to research a topic write a thesis on it is essential in this job. This practice helps improve the critical thinking and writing skills needed for a future career. Participation in lab work and an internship is also usually required.
After the initial education requirements have been met you must find an open forensics position to work in. Forensic scientists usually end up working in federal or state crime laboratories directly out of college. Nailing a position in a government job can provide a wide range of benefits, however most beginner forensic scientists are paid minimum at first. This beginner pay averages out to around $1500 per month. Although it’s not much, in most cases this will change as experience in the job is usually accompanied with better wages.