The first decision that you must decide when you determine that you desire a career in forensics is what type of degree and position you want to have. You will have the choice of many different degrees to pursue, which range from a Ph. D. to certification.
At the certification level, your job options will generally be more limited and you may be restricted to serving as a technician. This would be a great choice if you are not that familiar with the field and want some time to work in the industry and learn more about which areas interest you.
Associates and Bachelor degrees are available as well. You may be able to get a specific Forensic Science Degree, or you may prefer to choose a degree in other areas of interest such as biology, geology, chemistry and toxicology, as these degrees often give students the option to take the core courses with a specialty in forensics.
Choosing a bachelor’s degree in another scientific field with a specialty in forensics can give you a greater level of experience in the science of your degree. For example, a B.S. in Geology with a specialty in forensics would make you a greater help in cases where the geology of the crime scene is of importance or when samples of rock or sediment need analysis. You will have the background and knowledge to explain where samples of this type could be found or where they may have come from.
Bachelors Degree in Forensics
If you choose to pursue a degree in general forensics, you can expect to be required to fulfill the basic requirements for other bachelor degrees. This would include any English and language requirements, basic math requirements and basic science requirements. You can also expect to be required to take and pass biology, chemistry and physics. You may also be required to fulfill the school’s math and English requirements.
Most schools that offer a forensic science degree also require you to pass their core courses and electives. The electives should be chosen to enhance your knowledge of other subspecialties of forensic science or criminal justice. Core courses will usually include classes in criminal evidence, courtroom testimony and forensic microscopy. While these are only a few of the classes required, you will, in general, take courses that amount to at least a third of the credits required for your degree within the forensics department.
Masters and Doctorate Degrees in Forensics
If you choose to return to school to obtain a Master’s or Doctorate in Forensics, you will have the choice of choosing an online school or attending a traditional school in your off hours. These programs will allow you to enhance your credentials in your field and hone your skills in forensics. With increased education and experience, you may also be considered an expert witness and be relied upon for expert testimony in court cases.
Forensics Career Opportunities
The employment outlook for forensic science technicians is incredible. The growth has been very rapid in the past few years and the projected growth within the industry for the decade 2006 through 2016 is 31 percent. The average salary of a forensic technician in 2007 was approximately $48,000 per year. Experienced forensic scientists at the Bachelors and Masters Level have a median salary of about $70,000 per year.
Types of Forensics Jobs
While most positions for a forensic science degree are going to involve working for some type of law enforcement agency, there are other options. Private industries are always looking for employees who have critical minds and who can devise logical procedures to solve problems. Make sure that you choose your major wisely in light of future employment and leave yourself the largest selection of positions available.