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Forensic Science

What can I do with this major?

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Many students specialize in forensic science at the graduate level. Some areas of specialization follow.

Criminalistics

 
  • Crime Scene Reconstruction and Mapping
  • Fingerprint Examination
  • Firearm and Toolmark Identification
  • Fire and Explosives Investigation
  • Trace Evidence Collection
  • DNA Collection and Testing
  • Drug Analysis
  • Photography
  • Blood Spatter
  • Wildlife Forensics
  • Forensic laboratories:
    • Medical examiner
    • Coroner
    • Police department
    • Sheriff
    • Crime
    • District attorney
  • Colleges and universities
  • Federal agencies:
    • Drug Enforcement Agency
    • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
    • U.S. Department of Justice
    • Federal Bureau of Investigation
    • Central Intelligence Agency
    • U.S. Secret Service
    • Federal Emergency Management Agency
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Consulting firms

Toxicology

 
  • Ante-mortem Investigation (DUI)
  • Post-mortem Investigation
  • Drug Testing (sweat, hair, saliva, blood, urine, etc.):
    • Workplace
    • Crime-related Investigation (homicide, sexual assault)
  • Human Performance Monitoring
  • Animal Performance Monitoring
  • Environmental Contamination Testing
  • Laboratories:
    • Law enforcement/crime
    • Hospital
    • Medical examiner
    • Coroner
    • Horse racing
    • Sports testing
    • Private
    • University
    • Government
  • Consulting firms

Questioned Documents

 
  • Document (handwritten, typed, printed, copied, etc.)
    • Examination/Analysis
    • Comparison
    • Authentication
    • Dating
    • Alteration Detection
    • Restoration
  • Police departments
  • Sheriff offices
  • Crime labs
  • Law offices
  • Insurance companies
  • Hospitals
  • Government agencies:
    • State and federal bureaus of investigation
    • U.S. Postal Inspection Service Headquarters
    • U.S. Secret Service
    • U.S. Armed Forces
  • Private practice

Odontology

 
  • Post-mortem Identifi cation (mass fatalities, homicide)
  • Age Estimation
  • Bite Mark Analysis (assault, abuse)
  • DNA Collection and Testing (salivary)
  • Dental Malpractice
  • Medical examiners
  • Coroners
  • Government agencies
  • U.S. Armed Forces
  • Law firms
  • Clinics
  • Private practice

Pathology/Medical Examiner

 
  • Post-mortem Investigation
    • Post-mortem Identification
    • Post-mortem Examination/Autopsy
    • Cause/Time of Death Determination
    • Physical Evidence Collection/Analysis
    • Disease Study
  • Clinical Forensic Pathology (investigations of the living)
    • Injury Interpretation (abuse)
  • City, county, state and federal governments
  • U.S. Armed Forces
  • College and university medical schools
  • Hospitals
  • Private organizations

Physical/Forensic Anthropology

 
  • Human Skeletal Recovery
  • Human Skeletal Identification
    • Age Estimation
    • Ancestry, Sex, Stature Determination
    • Cause/Time of Death Determination
  • Animal Skeletal Identification
  • Soil/Vegetation Analysis
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Facial Reproduction
  • Body Decomposition
  • Injury Interpretation
  • Teaching
  • Medical examiners
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Private labs
  • Local, state and federal government
  • U.S. Armed Forces
    • Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
    • Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC)
  • Museums
  • Non-government organizations i.e. ad hoc tribunals
  • Colleges and universities

Forensic Psychiatry/Psychology

 
  • Criminal Responsibility Determination
  • Competency Determination
  • Risk Assessment
    • Sex Offender
    • Violence
    • Suicide
  • Evaluation
    • Involuntary Hospitalization
    • Right to Refuse Treatment
  • Disability Compensation
  • Family/Domestic Consultation
    • Custody
    • Juvenile Delinquency
    • Parental Fitness
    • Abuse
    • Adoption
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Workplace Violence
  • Hospitals including prison and state facilities
  • Local, state and federal government
    • Departments of correction
    • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Colleges and universities
  • Private practice

General Information and Strategies

  • Students interested in forensic science should note that countless undergraduate majors, minors and concentrations may lead to work in this field. The coursework is primarily science-based. Students pursuing this path should plan to complete numerous classes in chemistry and biology.
  • Beware of inaccuracies of the forensic science field as portrayed on television. Research the field and requirements carefully in advance.
  • Most professional forensic science positions require a graduate degree. Research admissions requirements, take prerequisite courses and plan for admission exams.
  • Demonstrate curiosity, analytical thinking and attention to detail for precise documentation of procedures and findings.
  • Develop tolerance for working in extreme conditions at times and in proximity to injury and/or death.
  • Expect to work irregular, “on call” hours.
  • Gain relevant work experience through internships, part-time jobs or volunteer positions.
  • Join professional associations and community organizations to stay abreast of current issues in the field and to develop networking contacts.
  • Read scientific journals related to your area of interest.
  • Forensic scientists often deliver expert testimony in court proceedings. Learn to communicate and collaborate effectively with people in and outside of the criminal justice system including attorneys, judges and members of juries.
  • Plan to participate in ongoing training to maintain up-to-date knowledge of technologies/advances in your specialty area.
  • Research and maintain current certifi cation for your specialty through accredited organizations.
  • Some law enforcement officers work in the forensic science field after receiving specialized training offered by agencies.
  • There is no specific path for becoming a profiler. One must have a proven track record as an investigator before being considered for specific training in this area.
  • Engineering science is a growing field within forensic science. Professionals earn engineering degrees and specialize in areas such as accident reconstruction, failure analysis, quality review, design review, etc. Findings are often applied to litigation and regulation.