There are many ways to become a forensic scientist and fortunately, there are several colleges and universities that offer 2-year associates’ and 4-year bachelors degrees in forensic science. Individuals who want to become a forensic scientist have a lot of degree options because although a degree in forensic science is sufficient, some employers might require applicants from different degrees to fill in for other specialties. An applicant with a bachelors’ degree in chemistry, biology or forensic science may apply for forensic jobs. However, a person who might be interested in holding a forensic engineering job might be required to possess an engineering degree. Likewise, individuals applying to become a forensic anthropologist are required to have an anthropology degree.
Forensic scientists are also expected to have an extensive knowledge in areas of biological science, pathology, and anatomy. For instance, medical examiners are often medical doctors who have the knowledge and the experience in working with pathology. Other forensic scientists such as crime lab analysts and technicians are also required to have a bachelor’s degree in a physical or biological science with some chemistry and criminology background. Additionally, crime scene examiners or crime scene investigators are expected to have a bachelor’s degree an associates’ degree in forensic science. Another option for those who want to become more adept in this field is attending a graduate program to obtain either a master’s degree or a doctoral degree in forensic science.
Generally, a license is not needed for forensic scientists to work professionally. Students who graduate from forensic science also do not need to take any certification examinations to be able to work as a forensic scientist in a laboratory. However, forensic scientists who wish to boost their career opportunities may choose to become a certified forensic scientist. The American College of Forensic Examiners Institute and The American Board of Forensic Toxicology offers certification exams for those who wish to become certified.
Forensic scientists may be promoted as the manager of the laboratories they work in. They may also train the new crime lab analysts. There are cases when forensic scientists will also have to work with police officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Office of the Homeland Security, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Some are also employed by federal, local, and state governments, police departments, hospitals, law firms, universities, and medical laboratories.
Employment opportunities for forensic scientists are expected to increase rapidly within the next decade. Job prospects remains favorable as this profession is now considered to be one of the most stable and fastest growing in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an increase in this field by 12% until the year 2014. The demand for forensic scientists will also continue to grow as the crime rates in the nation escalate. Furthermore, the increase in the demand for forensic scientists will exceed the number of graduates. Therefore, it has also been stated in recent studies that there will be more than 10,000 job vacancies in forensic laboratories in the next five to 10 years.