Forensic Scientist

Use your knowledge of science to unearth clues to crimes.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$38,000 – $125,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Forensic Scientists do?

A Forensic Scientist works primarily in a lab, running tests on evidence gathered by Forensic Technicians and Investigators. When you’re a Forensic Scientist, it is up to you to sort through the pieces of evidence, and determine what kinds of testing should be done on them. You decide which ones should be prioritized, and which ones can be safely given to the Technicians for testing.

A Forensic Scientist acts as the bridge between the Investigators, the Technicians, and the police. You understand what tests work for what pieces of evidence, and why those tests work. Technicians run tests as well, but what differentiates them from you is that they merely follow your orders, gather evidence, and write reports. It is your lab, and you use it to find answers that help the police and Investigators with their work.

As a Forensic Scientist, you are most interested in science, chemistry, and biology. Law and criminology fall into the realm of the Investigators. And the routine gathering, testing, and writing falls to the Technicians, who receive their on-the-job training mostly from you.

Your work may also lead to writing scholarly papers and reports, and stints with government agencies to lend your expertise to cases that don’t have anything to do with recent crimes, such as cases involving pollution or something similar. You might be called to testify in court for various cases as well, so you should be comfortable speaking in front of others.

Should I be a Forensic Scientist?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Persistent: You keep pushing through, even when faced with tough obstacles.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • How to become a Forensic Scientist

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