Forensic Osteologist

Analyze bones to learn the circumstances of a person's death.
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Quick Stats

Salary Range
$39,000 – $102,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Forensic Osteologists do?

To understand what a Forensic Osteologist does, simply break down the title. Someone involved in forensics uses science and deduction to rebuild the details of a crime or determine the cause of death. An Osteologist studies bones. So, a Forensic Osteologist studies bones to find the cause of death or positively identify the remains.

As a Forensic Osteologist, you’re often called upon when bones are found. It might be part of a police investigation, something a hiker finds in the woods, a skeleton dug up by an Archaeologist, or items gifted to a museum. However you come across your next project, you’ll need a full cup of coffee with a dash of intuition, a spoonful of curiosity, and a healthy dose of scientific precision.

Bones tell an amazing story. Your first job is often to identify whether the bones belong to a human or an animal. Next, you date the bones. There’s a fine line between your work and that of the Archaeologist or Anthropologist, so dating is important.

Once you’ve verified that the bones are human, you investigate clues that help identify the age, race, gender, and even the occupation of the deceased. Then you study fractures, breaks, and scars that help make a positive identification or determine the cause of death.

Your work is precise. Not everyone can understand this kind of detailed work, let alone do it. So, you turn your findings into easy-to-read reports and explain them in court during criminal investigations.

Should I be a Forensic Osteologist?

You should have a doctoral degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Persistent: You keep pushing through, even when faced with tough obstacles.
  • Flexible: You're open to change and think variety is the spice of life.

  • How to become a Forensic Osteologist

    We recommend at least a Doctoral degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's. Check out these schools offering Forensic Osteologist-related education!
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