Forensic Science Specialist: Job Description and Requirements

Forensic science specialists require significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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If you are interested in laboratory science and have a keen attention to detail, you could consider a career as a forensic science specialist. A combination of a bachelor's degree in a science field and some work experience is enough to get started, but earning an advanced degree could make you more attractive to potential employers. Forensic science specialists spend most of their time in a laboratory conducting various tests, but they must also be prepared to provide reports and bear witness in court.

Essential Information

Forensic science specialists spend much of their time in laboratory settings, analyzing physical evidence from crime scenes. They should be proficient in conducting many types of tests, analyzing the results and reporting them. A bachelor's degree in forensic science or another relevant field is required, along with experience in a forensic science lab. A graduate degree can help with career advancement.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in forensic science or science-related field
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 27% for forensic science technicians
Median Salary (2015)* $56,320 for forensic science technicians

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Forensic Science Specialist Job Description

Forensic science specialists examine and evaluate physical evidence, using chemical, microscopic, instrumental and physical methods of analysis. They may be required to work with blood and other biological fluids, hair, gunshot residue, drugs, fibers, paint and glass. Forensic science specialists also typically are responsible for preparing written reports on their findings, serving as expert witnesses in court hearings and conducting research regarding new technologies, equipment and techniques. Additionally, they might be required to train other forensic science personnel in different methods of evidence analysis.

Forensic Science Specialist Requirements

Those who would like to become forensic science specialists should have at least a bachelor's degree. They would benefit from choosing a major that's heavily science-oriented, such as forensic science, chemistry, biochemistry or biology.

A combination of education and experience is necessary to become a forensic science specialist. Those whose highest education credential is a bachelor's degree should have a few years of work experience in a forensic science laboratory to supplement their education. Those who have earned a master's degree or Ph.D. can probably find employment with less work experience.

Forensic science specialist job candidates must have comprehensive knowledge of working in a laboratory. They should be familiar with laboratory techniques, procedures, practices and safety, as well as the maintenance and operation of laboratory equipment. They also should know how to conduct laboratory tests, analyze the results and draw conclusions from the supporting evidence. Personal qualities that might be useful for forensic science specialists include good communication skills, the ability to work with others and knowledge of spreadsheet and word-processing software, as well as dependability, accuracy and integrity.

Salary and Job Outlook

The median salary for forensic science technicians was $56,320 in May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects that this career field will grow by 27% from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the average growth of all occupations.

Forensic science is a laboratory-based field that involves analyzing physical evidence from crime scenes. This involves extensive knowledge of different tests and procedures, as well as thorough documentation and reporting of findings. Job growth in this field should be much faster than average in the coming decade, and a bachelor's degree in forensic science or a related area is a typical minimum requirement.

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