Forensic Chemist

Identify chemicals in evidence found at crime scenes.
picture of Forensic Chemist

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$39,000 – $116,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Forensic Chemists do?

“Forensics” conjures up images of Policemen stringing yellow caution tape around a crime scene, while frazzled Investigators rush to and fro, bagging evidence and chasing down suspects. In reality, the investigation takes a much slower pace and the criminal is long gone.

Some criminals are good at hiding; most are not. Often within 24 hours, the Police know who committed the crime. But it takes evidence collected and analyzed by a legal-savvy Forensic Chemist to ensure that the case holds up in court.

Though your job as a Forensic Chemist does involve bagging evidence and examining it in the lab, you’re on the lookout not for blood and fingerprints but for chemical substances. Examples are gasoline and poisonous materials. The presence of gasoline, for example, may prove that a fire was set on purpose and not merely an accident.

A Forensic Chemist’s work hours are spent in the lab examining evidence with the most high-tech equipment on the market. You’ll dip fabric in chemical solutions to test for a reaction, check for particles under a microscope, and keep an eye on other chemical tests that need several hours or days to complete.

Finally, when the case goes to trial, you testify in court about your findings. It requires legal knowledge to ensure your evidence is not thrown out due to improper collection or examination techniques. If a legal investigation were made of fabric, you’d be the stitching holding it together.

Should I be a Forensic Chemist?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • Also known as: Formulary Chemist

    How to become a Forensic Chemist

    Most Forensic Chemists have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aea9cl&chl=|certificate+%286%25%29||bachelor%27s+%2877%25%29|master%27s+%283%25%29|doctorate+%2814%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,77
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