Chemistry: Career Project

Forensic Chemistry - Erika M. Plaza

What is forensic chemistry?

Forensic chemistry is applying facts involving chemistry to both civil and criminal law. A forensic chemist is responsible for identifying evidence, and will some times be required to hold conclusions in court (possibly as an expert witness) confirming or discrediting the legitimacy of the evidence.

Education matters!

A strong background in chemistry & instrumental analysis, and a good grounding in criminalistics are vital. An undergraduate degree in forensic science or a natural science is needed for work in crime laboratories, with added coursework in mathematics, chemistry, and biology. The more advanced positions call for a master’s degree. A Ph.D. is often preferred for promotions (such as lab director) but it is required for forensic research positions at academic establishments. People who are interested in working with trace evidence should focus on "instrumentation skills" and take courses in geology, soil chemistry, and materials science.

So how much is this all going to cost me?

While the cost of a bachelor’s degree varies according to your major, the major factor in a bachelor’s degree tuition is whether you choose a public or a private university. According to the College Board, bachelor’s degree tuition at private universities averaged $26,273 in 2009-2010; public university tuition was about $7,020. Multiply that out and you get $105,092 in total bachelor’s degree tuition at private school and $28,080 at public school. The cost of a master's program is dependent on many different factors. This includes the type of academic institution that students attend and the fields that students pursue their masters programs in.

What about licenses and / or certifications? Are they transferable to other states?

There are no mandatory licensing requirements, but a valid driver's license may be required. Living in another state may require you to obtain a new driver's license. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, certification is not a requirement to find work as a forensic science technician However, it does offer many other advantages, including improved employment prospects and even a better salary. To earn certification, forensic specialists have to have a relevant degree and several years of experience, in addition to passing a certification exam or other review process.

Does becoming a forensic chemist include benefits?

Because it is a government agency, retirement & medical benefits, allowances, and other benefits are secured and are paid for by the state. After retirement, a forensic chemist is also entitled for a $401,000 retirement fee, life and disability insurance and pension plans. They also receive an average bonus of $1,026 to $9,826 per year. A full package of health insurance is also an addition to those benefits.

What would my schedule look like? Would I have to travel?

Forensic scientists work different hours depending on what they do. Some work in forensic laboratories and work 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday. Others work out in the field and may work different hours. Others are "on call" and work after their regular shift; they receive compensatory time. Disaster Mortuary Operations Response Team is a branch of the Federal Emergency Management Association. Teams are sent on an "as needed" basis to major disasters or large criminal cases. Members are sent for two weeks to ANYWHERE in the world and may extend their time as needed. D.M.O.R.T is used to help already existing forensic units. Potentially, travel could end up moving to a different part of the country more permanently.

What about internships?

Though an internship (paid or unpaid) isn't required, it would still be a useful tool to take advantage of (as would any internship for that matter)

Does age really matter?

There is no age requirement to work as a forensic chemist. However, most people receive their bachelor's degree between the ages of 21 and 24. As stated before, people who are looking to become forensic chemists should acquire a bachelor's degree. Therefore, the requirement to be a forensic chemist would probably be in that same age window.

The jobs in this field are in...

What is the projected job growth? Could this lead to a different job in the chemistry field?

The federal government projects an outstanding 20% job growth for this career field. Being a forensic chemist can lead to a different job in the chemistry field, but doing so would be slightly difficult. A lot of background information that is needed in order to consider being a forensic chemist isn't essentially used throughout other jobs in the the chemistry field.

Did someone say promotions?

Promotions are affected by many factors; these factors include your location, the kind of facility you work in and its size, your experience in the field, the level of education you have completed, and whether or not you have other certifications.

Money talks

As a forensic chemist, the average starting salary is about $27, 683. The median salary is anywhere from that to about $52, 471. Raises are affected by many of the factors that promotions are. Developmental conferences are often paid for by the employer.

On the daily

Work from home is very rare. As said before, some work in forensic laboratories and work 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday.

So what are the positive and negative aspects of this job?

Positive aspects:

1.) Benefits

2.) Doing something you love

3.) Helping to bring out the justice in crimes

Negative aspects:

1.) Travel (if one doesn't care so much for movement)

2.) Long hours

3.) The need for an extensive amout of chemistry background

Here are some citations!

"Forensic Chemistry." Forensic Chemistry. American Chemical Society, 2014. Web. 10

Feb. 2014.

"Forensic Chemistry.", 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.

L, Gina. "How Much Does a Bachelor’s Degree Cost?" CollegeSurfing Insider., 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.

"CAREER GUIDE FOR FORENSIC SCIENTIST." Forensic Scientists. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.

"" Forensic Chemist. American Dental Education Association, 2012. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.

ITT Tech. "What Kind of Employment Forensic Science Offers?" HubPages. N.p., 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.

"Forensic Chemistry :: Careers in Forensic Science." Forensic Chemistry :: Careers in Forensic Science. The College of New Jersey, 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.

"Indiana State Police Laboratory Division." ISP Labs: Forensic Scientists., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.

"Forensic Science Job Outlook." The Top Forensic Science Colleges. Forensic Science Colleges, 2014. Web. 09 Feb. 2014.

"Forensic Science Job Outlook." The Top Forensic Science Colleges. Westchester County, 12 June 2013. Web. 09 Feb. 2014.

Williams, Ellie. "How to Get Certified as a Forensic Scientist." Work. Chron, 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.

"Salary Information for Forensic Science Careers." Forensic Science Degree. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2014.