Forensic scientists analyze and study evidences found from a crime scene in a forensics lab. They examine hairs, fibers, blood, fingerprints and other physical evidence involved in an investigation. Through their analysis, investigators are able to conclude the sequence of events following the crime and the people involved in it. They examine and record tissue samples, chemical substances, physical evidences, and ballistics evidence. They also perform tests on footprints, debris, papers, and inks. They also identify laboratory results and test findings to categorize materials and substances collected from the crime scene.
Forensic scientists have the duty of collecting evidences used to solve criminal cases. Moreover, they consult with ballistics, handwriting, electronics, medical, chemical, and metallurgical specialists. It is part of their job description to recreate the crime scene to identify the significance of the evidences to the crime. In addition, they prepare laboratory reports and testify in courts as witnesses regarding the evidences found in the crime scene. Their scientific findings and analysis may affect a person’s fate when they are suspected of a crime.
Forensic scientists are generally classified into six areas: medical examiner, crime lab analyst, crime scene examiner, forensic engineer, technical assistance and academic assistance. Each of these professions has different duties and job descriptions. The medical examiners have extended knowledge in pathology. They perform autopsies on corpses and record their observations and findings. They are required to be a graduate from a medical training program which usually takes four years to complete. They also need to complete a residency program for three to five years under the supervision and guidance of their senior MDs.
Forensic anthropologists, on the other hand, help investigators and the law enforcement with identifying bones and human remains. Forensic anthropologists are adept in areas of osteology, pathology, anatomy and statistics. This job will usually require a master’s or a doctorate degree from prospective forensic anthropologists.
The crime lab analysts identify and study biological evidence to help investigators solve a crime. To be able to work as a crime lab analyst, applicants are usually required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in physical or biological science. They also need to have intensive knowledge in chemistry and some background in criminology or law.
Another area of forensic science involves collecting evidence found at a crime scene. Specialists who collect, document, and store evidence at the crime scene are called crime scene investigators or CSIs. They work under the law enforcement agency and could be a part of the police or they could also be a civilian. Law enforcement agencies usually hire individuals who either have a bachelor’s or associate’s degree that has an emphasis on forensic science. Moreover, crime scene investigators are trained on the job and they thoroughly learn the procedures through the training.