The Path To Becoming A Forensic Scientist

If you are looking to get into an incredibly challenging, progressive, and rewarding career, then look no further than the field of forensic science. Forensic science offers the opportunity to contribute to society in a very meaningful way. A degree in forensic science will train you to use scientific principles to discover the truth behind a crime, helping to answer the question of whether the person responsible for the incident being investigated intended to commit a crime, did commit a crime, or if they are innocent of any wrongdoing.

The field of forensic science includes a variety of different disciplines, including criminalistics, engineering sciences, general forensic science, odontology, pathology/biology, physical anthropology, psychiatry and behavioral science, questioned documents, and toxicology.

Once you have decided on a career in forensic science, you will need to choose which area you will practice. In addition to the area that you are most passionate about, you should also take into consideration such factors as steady hours vs. flexible hours and routine vs. job variation. These will help you pinpoint what discipline makes the most sense for you.

A career in forensic science will require a college degree. While there are a number of colleges that offer undergraduate degrees in forensic science, this path does not always make the most sense for aspiring forensic scientist. You actually benefit much more from concentrating solely on the science aspect of the job. This will help you develop a more thorough understanding of the skills and knowledge needed to be proficient and capable of accurately performing the tasks you will need to complete on the job.

The area of science that you decide to pursue in college should correlate with the field of forensics that you are intend to work in upon entering the workforce. A degree in psychology would make more sense for a forensic psychologist, while a pre-med degree would be a great idea for a medical examiner. For me, a degree in genetics made the most sense for me on my path to becoming a criminalist.

Some forensic scientists go on to earn a graduate degree following the completion of their undergraduate studies. Although this is not required for everyone, it certainly does improve your visibility in the job market. My Master’s degree in forensic science really helped me refine my skills and prepared me to hit the ground running when I entered the workforce.

For more information on the decisions that you will need to make while on the path to becoming a forensic scientist, please check out this article.

About The Author:

Mignon Dunbar is a forensic scientists with over 8 years of laboratory experience in both analytical chemistry and molecular biology. She currently serves as a Criminalist with the City and County of San Francisco. Mignon Dunbar holds a B.S. in Genetics and a M.S. in Forensic Science, both from the University of California – Davis.