Forensic Scientist

Morgan Weidman Mods 25-27

Overall Job Description

Forensic scientists aid criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing evidence. Many forensic scientists specialize in either crime scene investigation or laboratory analysis. Most forensic scientists spend some time writing reports.

At crime scenes they:

  • analyze the crime scenes to determine what and how evidence should be collected
  • take photographs of the crime scene and evidence
  • make sketches of the crime scene, record observations and findings
  • such as the location and position of evidence
  • collect evidence, including weapons, fingerprints, and bodily fluids
  • catalog and preserve evidence for transfer to crime labs
In laboratories they:

  • perform chemical, biological, and microscopic analyses on evidence taken from crime scenes
  • explore possible links between suspects and criminal activity, using the results of DNA or other scientific analyses examine digital media for pertinent information
  • consult with experts in specialized fields, such as toxicology (the study of poisons and their effect on the body) and odontology (a branch of forensic medicine that concentrates on teeth)
  • reconstruct crime scenes

Major Job Responsibilities

“My day-to-day activities vary throughout the week. The majority of my time is spent in the office writing reports and preparing for laboratory visits. Other days I may be carrying out a laboratory visit or attending court as an expert witness.”

Forensic scientists do their job at both the crime scene and a laboratory. They work with DNA, physical evidence, and criminals. Many forensic scientists work in an office writing reports and preparing laboratory visits.

Working Conditions

Most laboratory forensic scientists work full time during standard hours. Crime scene investigators may work extended or unusual hours and travel to crime scenes within their jurisdiction.

Current Salary

The annual wage for forensic scientist was $55,360 in May 2014, or $26.61 per hour.

Education Needed

Forensic scientists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in a natural science, such as chemistry or biology, or in forensic science. On-the-job training generally is required for both those who investigate crime scenes and those who work in labs.

Job Outlook

Employment of forensic science technicians is projected to grow 27 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 3,800 new jobs over the 10-year period. Competition for jobs will be strong because of substantial interest in forensic science.