The term forensic science involves forensic (or forensis, in Latin), which means a public discussion or debate. In a more modern context, however, forensic applies to courts or the judicial system. Combine that with science, and forensic science means applying scientific methods and processes to solving crimes. what are the best colleges for forensic science? Let’s have a look. What should you major in? Check from here!
what are the best colleges for forensic science?
what are the best colleges for forensic science? Here are the best colleges for forensic science.
|1||Mercyhurst University||Erie, PA|
|2||University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL|
|3||Texas A & M University-College Station||College Station, TX|
|4||Pennsylvania State University||University Park, PA|
|5||University of Nebraska-Lincoln||Lincoln, NE|
|6||Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis||Indianapolis, IN|
|7||Cedarville University||Cedarville, OH|
|8||Loyola University Chicago||Chicago, IL|
|9||Ohio Northern University||Ada, OH|
|10||Madonna University||Livonia, MI|
Here is the list of ranking of top institutions in India – what are the best colleges for forensic science in India?
3.Forensic Science, Mylapore
4.Stanley Medical College
5.Arts & Science college
6. University of Madras
7. St.Michael Polytechnic
8.College of Gandhian thought
9.Sindhi college of arts and science
10.Swami Dhayanand college of arts and science
From the 16th century, when medical practitioners began using forensic science to writings in the late 18th century that revealed the first evidence of modern pathology, to the formation of the first school of forensic science in 1909; the development of forensic science has been used to uncover mysteries, solve crimes, and convict or exonerate suspects of crime for hundreds of years. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
The extraordinary scientific innovations and advancements in forensic science have allowed it to become a highly developed science that involves a number of disciplines and thousands of forensic scientists specializing in everything from DNA and botany to dentistry and tool marks.
The Application of Forensic Science
The field of forensic science draws from a number of scientific branches, including physics, chemistry, and biology, with its focus being on the recognition, identification, and evaluation of physical evidence. It has become an essential part of the judicial system, as it utilizes a broad spectrum of sciences to achieve information relevant to criminal and legal evidence. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Forensic science may prove the existence of a crime, the perpetrator of a crime, or a connection to a crime through the:
- Examination of physical evidence
- Administration of tests
- Interpretation of data
- Clear and concise reporting
- Truthful testimony of a forensic scientist
Forensic science has become an integral part of many criminal cases and convictions, with objective facts through scientific knowledge serving both defense and prosecution arguments. The testimony of forensic scientists has become a trusted component of many civil and criminal cases, as these professionals are concerned not with the outcome of the case; only with their objective testimony based purely on scientific facts.
Forensic scientists perform both physical and chemical analyses on physical evidence obtained by crime scene investigators and law enforcement officials at the crime scene. These scientific experts use microscopic examining techniques, complex instruments, mathematical principles, scientific principles, and reference literature to analyze evidence to identify both class and individual characteristics. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Although the majority of forensic scientists perform their jobs within the confines of the forensic laboratory or morgue, their work may also take them outside of the laboratory and to the crime scene, where they observe the scene and collect evidence. Forensic scientists may work for local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and government, private laboratories, and hospitals. They may also serve as independent forensic science consultants. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
The Organization of Forensic Science
Due to the highly complex field of forensic science, forensic scientists are most often skilled in a particular area of forensic science, such as latent prints, questioned documents, trace evidence, or firearms, just to name a few.
Forensic scientists may be divided into three, major groups:
Forensic Pathologists: These include medical examiners and other professionals who oversee autopsies and clinical forensic examinations
Forensic Scientists: These include forensic professionals working in law enforcement, government, or private forensic laboratories who are responsible for dealing with any number of specific tests and analyses, such as toxicology, ballistics, trace evidence, etc.
Associated Scientists: These include scientific professionals lending their knowledge to forensic science, such as forensic odontologists, forensic botanists, forensic anthropologists, etc. These scientists apply their knowledge to the forensic science field as to provide investigators with crucial information regarding everything from bite marks to insect infestation on the postmortem body. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Forensic science is therefore further organized into the following fields:
- Trace Evidence Analysis
- Forensic Toxicology
- Forensic Psychology
- Forensic Podiatry
- Forensic Pathology
- Forensic Optometry
- Forensic Odontology
- Forensic Linguistics
- Forensic Geology
- Forensic Entomology
- Forensic Engineering
- Forensic DNA Analysis
- Forensic Botany
- Forensic Archeology
- Forensic Anthropology
- Digital Forensics
Forensic science often includes even more specialized fields, such as forensic accounting, forensic engineering, and forensic psychiatry, among others.
The Study of Forensic Science
Although forensic science may be a very complex study, particularly in the areas of DNA and trace evidence, for example, the study of forensic science is grounded in fundamental concepts and techniques that are gathered from the natural sciences. In particular, the study of forensic science involves a multi-disciplinary approach that covers everything from biological methods to analytical chemistry techniques.
The majority of forensic scientists study a specific physical science, such as chemistry or biology, while others pursue forensic science degrees that are rooted in either chemistry or biology.
A comprehensive degree from a college or university draws from the biological sciences, as well as from the fields of criminal justice and the law. Students learn to develop an appreciation of both the scientific and social environment of the criminal justice system, and many students go on to focus their degrees on specific areas of forensic science, such as DNA, trace evidence, toxicology, latent prints, or questioned documents, for example.
What is forensic science?
Any scientific process used as part of a criminal investigation is considered forensic science. This spans both the grim, grisly procedures of the autopsy room and the cutting-edge analysis of a crime scene.
But it also encompasses the less glamorous, painstaking lab work of DNA profiling, fingerprint analysis, and the uncovering of hidden digital files. There is even such a thing as forensic accountancy.
What techniques are used to solve crimes today?
The bulk of modern forensic work involves the analysis of DNA or fingerprints left at a crime scene. In murder cases, forensic autopsies help work out how a person died.
A range of more specialized and elaborate forensic techniques can be used to identify suspects in the most serious cases, such as tracking serial killers or terrorists. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Read more about DNA and forensic science:
Forensic genealogy: how the police are using family trees to solve cold cases
Crime writer Val McDermid on real-life forensic science
Shakespeare’s remarkable scientific accuracy
What is DNA?
These methods include forensic ecology, where tiny traces of pollen or fungal spores can be used to tell where a suspect has been, or forensic entomology, where the presence of certain insects can help reveal how long a person has been dead.
As people spend more and more time on devices like smartphones and computers, so-called ‘digital forensics’ is playing an ever-greater role in criminal investigations, too.
The growth in this field of forensic science also reflects the fact that there are now over four million CCTV cameras in the UK.
Is forensic science anything like what we see on TV?
Rarely. According to forensic scientist Prof Sue Black, who has advised a number of crime writers throughout her career, “There is an element of truth in TV crime, but also an element of fantasy – the work is often long, slow, and laborious, and viewers quite rightly don’t want to see us doing our double-blind trials.”
Nathan Clarke, a professor of digital forensics and cybersecurity, says the depiction of tracking technology in spy movies, where security services miraculously enhance fuzzy images of suspects, is pure fiction.
“In reality, you need someone to sit there and watch hours of video,” he says.
How does DNA profiling work?
Although 99.9 percent of our DNA is the same in every person, the remaining 0.01 percent is different enough to distinguish one individual from another. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Forensic DNA profiling looks specifically at highly variable stretches of DNA called ‘variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs).
These are short sequences of genetic code that may occur tens or hundreds of times at specific points in a person’s DNA. VNTRs are often located in parts of the human genome with little or no known function.
Mutations in the genetic code here will not cause abnormalities, and so over many generations, these sections of our genome have become hugely varied. And because unrelated people will almost certainly have different numbers of VNTRs in different places, they can be used to discriminate between two people.
DNA found at a crime scene is processed so that these sections can be compared to those from a sample swabbed from a suspect, or compared to a huge number of DNA profiles held on police databases.
As well as helping to identify suspects, DNA profiling has helped prove the innocence of people incorrectly convicted, in some cases decades after the crime, and is often used to help identify victims, especially where people have been killed in large numbers or when their remains are badly damaged. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
What’s the smallest amount of DNA from which a suspect or victim can be identified?
As technology advances, scientists can process smaller and smaller samples to develop a DNA profile.
Modern techniques can ‘amplify’ tiny amounts of DNA from minute traces of any material that contains fragments of tissue or cells, such as blood, semen, saliva, urine, feces, hair, teeth, or bone. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
‘Low-level’ or ‘touch DNA’ can sometimes even be collected from a few skin cells left behind after a person has touched an object or victim. With a full sample and the latest DNA profiling techniques, investigators are able to generate a ‘match probability’ of up to one in a quintillion (1018).
The chance of a random person in the population having that DNA profile is infinitesimally small.
If a suspect’s DNA is found at a crime scene, will it always lead to a conviction?
Not necessarily – there are all sorts of innocent reasons why a person’s DNA could be at a crime scene or on a body.
And even when DNA found at a crime scene is clearly that of the perpetrator, the police still need to find a match – if the murderer is not already a suspect, and their DNA profile is not on file, the evidence is effectively useless. However, in such cases, a person’s own family can land them in it.
A serial killer is known as the Grim Sleeper, who killed at least 10 people in Los Angeles between 1985 and 2007, eluded police for decades, despite them having a sample of his DNA. The culprit was finally apprehended when his son was arrested for weapons offenses.
The son gave a regulation DNA sample, which partially matched the DNA profile found at all of the Grim Sleeper crime scenes, which led the police to investigate his relatives. Police posed as waiters to get the father’s DNA from a pizza slice and found that it matched the crime scene DNA. He was arrested in 2010.
Can DNA evidence be faked?
Although DNA profiling is an excellent way to distinguish between individuals, it is still not immune to falsification, errors, or manipulation.
In 1992, a doctor and rapist called John Schneeberger evaded justice by injecting other people’s blood into his arm just before his DNA was sampled by police. He was found guilty when forced to take another test years later.
It’s also possible, although extremely rare, for a person to be a ‘genetic chimera’, meaning that they have cells in their body with different DNA from the rest of them. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Why do forensic scientists still use fingerprinting?
With fingerprints, police can often use their own in-house specialists rather than call on external forensic scientists. The digitization of fingerprint records means a photograph of a fingermark can be sent from a crime scene and compared to a database almost in real-time.
According to the Fingerprint Society, fingerprints remain the number one ID metric for crime scenes in the UK, accounting for the identification of well over 100,000 suspects in 2012. Prints can also help indicate what someone was doing or how they entered a building – for example if they are found leading up to a broken window or in a grip figuration on a weapon. And unlike DNA, it’s hard to plant a fingerprint at a crime scene. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
How accurate is fingerprinting?
Fingerprints may be considered an ‘older’ forensic technique, having first been used in the 1890s, but the technology behind them is continuously being improved. As well as the well-known method of ‘dusting’ for fingerprints at the scene, forensics teams can also use chemical reagents and lasers to reveal extremely faint prints.
Even more sensitive tools can be deployed if objects are taken back to the lab. One method involves gold or silver particles being placed with a sample in a vacuum; the metal will settle on the faintest of marks.
Is everyone’s fingerprint really unique?
The underlying patterns of ridges on people’s digits are determined genetically, but the way individual ridges divide and break is dependent on conditions in the womb and the movement of the developing fetus.
Even the fingerprints of identical twins will be different, while their DNA will be the same.
What else might police look for at a crime scene?
Criminals often wear gloves while committing premeditated crimes, but they can’t float in and out of the crime scene, so footprints can be crucial.
While footwear can’t definitively identify an individual, knowing the exact model of a shoe the perpetrator wore is still very useful intelligence when looking for a suspect.
In more serious crimes, forensic ecologists will look for traces of biological material that can link a suspect to a certain area, such as the type of woodland where a body has been found. Pollen and fungal spores are especially important as they are picked up easily but not easily shed, even from clothing and footwear that’s been washed.
But suspects are likely to have walked through many types of soil, mud, or vegetation before and after being at a crime scene. It all adds up to a huge headache for those trying to analyze and compare all the biological material found on the suspect. The rarer the pollen or spore that forensics can match, the more credible the case. A good example is also the first-ever example of forensic ecology.
In 1959, a man was murdered while traveling down the River Danube in Austria, but a body had not been found. Mud on the suspect’s shoes contained a type of pollen from ancient hickory trees.
Scientists concluded this could only have come from vegetation growing on exposed Miocene-age rocks, and the only place such soil had developed was a small section of the river 20km north of Vienna.
Presented with this theory, the suspect confessed and took police to the body – exactly where the scientists had predicted.
Other techniques have often seen on TV, such as blood spatter and ballistics analysis, may give detectives an idea of what happened at a crime scene, but rarely help find the perpetrator.
What can forensics teams learn from human remains?
In the first 72 hours after death, a pathologist is usually able to provide a reasonably accurate determination of the time and cause of death.
If a person has been dead for long, forensic entomologists may be called on to estimate the time of death, based on the number and type of insects feeding on the corpse. This method can be used to determine a period of hours, weeks, or even years since death.
Read more about DNA and forensic science:
Forensic science: What we still don’t know
DNA: A timeline of discoveries
How to use DNA databases to catch the perpetrator of a crime
Blowflies are almost always the first insects to arrive and lay eggs on a corpse, as they are mobile, common, and able to smell death from up to 10km away. Eventually, other families of insects are attracted to the body, such as beetles.
For more heavily decomposed or damaged remains, forensic dentists can match remnants of teeth to known dental records, or even use what they find to draw conclusions about the victim’s age, size, gender, race, and socioeconomic status.
What is currently being developed at the cutting edge of forensic science?
Forensic scientists can use anything to link a suspect to a crime scene, as long as they can prove the samples are unlikely to match by chance.
In the US, scientists have looked at the atomic structure of fragments of glass to prove it was from the same sheet of glass as that found broken at a crime scene.
Pioneering techniques that mix digital forensics with anatomy are also now being used to identify people from small areas of their bodies seen in photos or videos.
Features such as vein patternation or knuckle marks can identify suspects from images showing only small areas of their hands or arms. Grimly, this is likely to be used in cases involving sexual abuse.
As our understanding of DNA improves, we may one day be able to create a photofit-style image of a suspect solely from DNA evidence.
However, such ‘DNA phenotyping’ is not yet accurate enough, and can’t predict many aspects of how a person looks, such as whether they have a beard. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Anatomy of a modern crime scene
Prints can be recovered from surfaces. Their position helps detectives sequence events.
Insects on the body can help to determine when the victim died. Blowflies and then maggots arrive first, followed by beetles.
There may be visible bodily fluids, but DNA can be collected from less obvious sources such as a drinking glass.
Pollen and spores from plants and fungi can stick to clothes or car tires, linking suspects to a precise location.
Forensics can recover a footmark that’s almost invisible to the eye.
As a forensic scientist, you’ll provide scientific evidence for use in courts of law to support the prosecution or defense in criminal and civil investigations.
You’ll be primarily concerned with searching for and examining contact trace material associated with crimes. This material can include:
- blood and other body fluids
- fibers from clothing
- paint and glass fragments
- tire marks
- flammable substances used to start fires.
Although evidence is usually presented in writing as a formal statement or report, you may have to attend court to give your evidence in person as an expert witness.
Types of a forensic scientist
Job activities depend on the area of forensics in which you work. The main areas are:
chemistry – connected to crimes against property, such as burglary and arson. You’ll be involved in the examination of substances such as paint or chemicals, including fire investigation and accident reconstruction.
biology – connected to crimes against people, such as murder, assault, and rape. You’ll be carrying out DNA testing and the examination of minute contact traces, such as blood, hair, and clothing fibers.
drugs and toxicology – where you’ll be testing for restricted drugs, examining tissue specimens for poison detection, and analyzing blood and urine samples for alcohol, for example in drink driving offenses.
Responsibilities ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
As a forensic scientist, you’ll need to:
- analyze samples, such as hair, body fluids, glass, paint, and drugs, in the laboratory
- apply techniques such as gas and high-performance liquid chromatography, scanning electron microscopy,
- mass spectrometry, infrared spectroscopy, and genetic fingerprinting
- sift and sort evidence, often held in minuscule quantities
- record findings and collect trace evidence from scenes of crimes or accidents
- attend and examine scenes of crimes
- liaise with teams and coordinate with outside agencies, such as the police
- analyze and interpret results and computer data
- review and supervise the work of assistants
- present the results of your work in written form or by giving oral evidence
- justify findings under cross-examination in courts of law
- research and develop new forensic techniques.
- Not all forensic scientists get involved with crime scene work or reporting. You may choose to stay in the laboratory.
- Salaries for forensic scientists typically start at around £20,000.
- With experience, this can increase to between £25,000 and £35,000.
- Salaries at senior levels can exceed £45,000.
- Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Although you’ll typically work normal office hours, you may have to do shifts or be on call. As crimes may happen at any time, you must be prepared to work evenings and weekends.
What to expect
Although most of the work is laboratory-based, experienced forensic scientists may have to attend crime scenes.
- The balance of work in the laboratory, court, and office varies between roles.
- The work may be stressful and distressing at times, particularly when attending scenes of crimes. You’ll need to feel comfortable presenting and defending your evidence in court under cross-examination.
- If attending a crime scene, you’ll need to wear protective clothing to prevent contamination of the scene and sometimes to protect yourself from hazardous materials.
- The work can be painstaking and time-consuming so you’ll need to have patience.
- Although there isn’t generally much travel involved, you may need to travel to attend conferences and training courses.
To work as a forensic scientist you’ll usually need either a degree in a scientific subject, such as biological sciences or chemistry or a degree in forensic science. Degree subjects such as statistics and geology can be useful for entry into specialist areas of forensic science. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
While there’s been an increase in the number of forensic science undergraduate degree courses, they may not all provide the skills and knowledge required to work as a forensic scientist. It’s a good idea to check details of accredited courses with The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS).
Competition for jobs is intense, so you may need to consider taking an MSc or Ph.D. in forensic science to give you an edge. A master’s in a forensic specialty, such as archaeology or anthropology, can also be useful. Search postgraduate courses in forensic science.
If you want to work as an assistant forensic scientist, you’ll need at least four good GCSE passes or equivalent, including English and either science (biology/chemistry) or maths and at least one A-level or equivalent in a science subject. In practice, however, many assistant forensic scientists have at least a first degree.
You’ll need to have:
- the capacity to undertake fine, analytical, painstaking work with exceptional attention to detail
- a logical, unbiased, and methodical approach to problem-solving
- a persistent approach and enquiring mind
- the ability to work well in a team, as well as independently
- strong written and oral communication skills and the ability to communicate scientific information to non-experts
- the ability to work to deadlines
- good color vision.
You’ll typically need experience working in a laboratory, for example in a hospital or a research center. Work placements occasionally arise in biological research and development.
Entry remains competitive and you might find short-term contracts and agency work that could lead to full-time appointments. It may also be worth sending targeted speculative applications to ask about work experience or work shadowing opportunities with relevant organizations such as police forces.
Joining the Chartered Society of Forensic Scientists (CSFS) as a student member can help with keeping up to date with developments in the sector and making valuable contacts. See CSFS student membership for more details.
Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Forensic scientists are employed by commercial companies that provide forensic science services to the police and other agencies. Employers include:
- Cellmark Forensic Services
- Eurofins Forensic Services
- Key Forensic Services
In Scotland, a national forensic service – which includes biology, chemistry, DNA, drug analysis, scene investigation, fingerprints, and specialist services (such as documents and handwriting) – is provided by the Scottish Police Authority Forensic Services.
Other employers include:
forensic science units within local police forces, such as the Metropolitan Police Specialist Crime and Operations (SC&O)
government departments such as the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Centre For Applied Science and Technology (CAST)
Forensic Science Northern Ireland (FSNI), an agency within the Department of Justice.
You might also be employed by medical schools, university research departments, public health laboratories, and companies dealing in specialist areas such as fire investigation.
Look for job vacancies at:
The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences
Forensic Science Northern Ireland (FSNI)
New Scientist Jobs
Scottish Police Authority
There’s no one place where jobs are advertised, so check the websites of relevant professional bodies, police forces, and key employers, as well as industry publications.
Strong links exist between some university departments and employers, so check with your university for potential contacts.
The training you receive will vary depending on your employer and area of specialty. However, you’ll usually follow a program of on-the-job training and development involving short courses and practical casework. Areas covered may include laboratory skills and proficiency tests, blood pattern analysis, and statement writing. More generally, you may receive training in health and safety, courtroom and presentation skills, and project management.
The changing nature of forensic science means that it’s vital that you keep up to date with the latest research and developments throughout your career. A series of events, as well as other continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities such as conferences, seminars, lectures, and workshops, are provided by the CSFS.
It’s also possible to study for a Master’s or Ph.D. in forensic science or in a forensic specialty such as archaeology or anthropology. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Although entry into the profession is competitive, career prospects are generally good. Promotion is based on experience, responsibility, and appraisal reports. Being geographically mobile can be helpful when looking for new roles.
You’ll usually need to get between two and five years’ experience after entry to be able to progress to the role of the reporting officer. This involves taking on your own cases, dealing directly with the police, and bringing together evidence into a statement. You may need to give evidence in court as an expert witness.
With further experience, you could go on to become a casework examiner, responsible for coordinating work in your area of expertise. You would supervise the work of others, visit scenes of crime, attend conferences, and may also carry out research and publish articles.
There’s scope to move into a managerial position, but progression often depends on developing an area of expertise. Alternatively, you could follow a career in research.
The term “forensic scientist” doesn’t describe a single job title, but rather a host of scientific specialties that apply expertise to legal questions. “Forensics” means “of or having to do with questions of law,” so nearly any discipline can be considered “forensic” if it’s applied to solving crimes or to the court system. Wherever your interests lie, there’s likely to be a discipline that fits you. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Forensic Science Technicians
Technicians are the utility players of the forensic science field. They assist in the collection of evidence, conduct analysis, and help investigate crime scenes. Often called crime scene technicians or crime scene investigators, forensic science technicians conduct most of their work either on the scene or in a laboratory.
Specially trained in evidence collection, technicians must have an eye for detail. They might also provide assistance to other forensic scientists and serve as liaisons to other specialists.
Forensic science technicians can earn a median pay of $58,230 annually as of 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Bloodstain Pattern Analysts
Popularized by the television series “Dexter,” bloodstain pattern analysts do just what the job title suggests: They analyze patterns in blood to help gather important clues about various crimes.
Often referred to as blood spatter experts, bloodstain pattern analysts are forensic science technicians who specialize in violent crime scenes. They can help determine the type of weapon used, whether a struggle occurred, the direction of travel of a victim or suspect, who was the primary aggressor, and whether wounds were self-inflicted—all through the examination of drips, spills, spatters, and stains.
Bloodstain pattern analysts can start at salaries in the neighborhood of $42,000 a year, according to BLS. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Forensic Ballistics Expert
Detectives call on forensic ballistics experts when they need help tracing a bullet back to a gun or identifying the type of firearm used. These experts provide crucial analysis at complex scenes, helping investigators identify the trajectory of fired rounds to find a point of origin.
Forensic ballistics experts can identify what type of bullet was used, its caliber, and even where it was manufactured. They can analyze whether a gun was recently fired and whether a particular bullet was fired by a specific gun.
Forensic firearms experts, according to BLS, can earn a median of $56,750 with job growth of 17% expected through 2026. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Forensic DNA Analyst
Deoxyribonucleic acid analysis (DNA) is gaining more and more prominence in criminology and forensic science. DNA contains the genetic coding that makes us…well, us. It’s believed to provide as as-close-to-perfect identification as possible, far more accurate than fingerprinting.
DNA analysts compare DNA samples taken from suspects and victims to determine whether someone was present at a crime scene, whether they were involved in a violent encounter, and other questions of identity when a sample is available. DNA analysts can also compare unknown samples to databases to identify potential suspects.
DNA analysts can expect to earn an average of about $64,000 a year, BLS reports. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Polygraphs have limited admissibility in courts, but the polygraph exam remains a useful tool in solving crimes and detecting deception from suspects and witnesses.
Polygraph examiners are trained to conduct examinations using the “lie detector” and to provide analysis of the results. Polygraph examiners undergo lengthy training to hone their skills, and they’re often used in internal administrative investigations of law enforcement personnel.
Polygraph examiners might work for criminal justice agencies or as private contractors. Their services are quite often employed during the candidate screening process for many sensitive jobs. ‘
Polygraph examiners earn around $95,000 a year on average, according to the 2019 ZipRecruiter database. PayScale’s database sets a lower average of $52,230. (Both are self-reported.) ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Forensic Documents Examiner
Forensic documents examiners compare handwriting samples and use their expertise to identify forgeries of contracts, checks, bank statements, and other documents and electronic records. They can also determine the validity of a signature through handwriting analysis and even determine the relative age of a document.
A forensic documents examiner must undergo an apprenticeship to learn the trade, and she might be employed by private contractors or government agencies. Forensic documents examiners most often assist in white-collar crimes and work with digital experts and forensic accountants.
Salary and earning potential for these experts can vary significantly depending on the employer and level of expertise. ZipRecruiter self-reports average $47,044—ranging from $16,000 to $109,500. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Digital Forensics Experts and Forensic Computer Investigators
Digital and computer forensics is becoming an extremely important field, and these experts are much in demand. Criminals are leaving more clues and electronic fingerprints as we all use computers and digital devices more and more. Cybercrime is a growing problem, as well as child exploitation and other similar types of criminal behavior that have found a home online.
Forensic computer investigators are trained to collect data from damaged and wiped hard drives, cellphones, tablets, and other computing devices. This digital evidence can be essential in the successful prosecution of electronic crimes.
Forensic computer investigators might work directly for law enforcement agencies or on a contractual basis. Their earning potential is significant due to increasing demand. ZipRecruiter’s self-reported salary averages $98,857 per year—ranging from $24,500 to $151,000. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
CAMI scientists conduct research to detect and measure drugs, alcohol, toxic gases, and toxic industrial chemicals in victims of fatal aircraft accidents as a contribution to the analysis of accident causation.
CAMIOKC/Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons
The ancient Greeks were the first to note the various signs and symptoms of poisons, and they were the first society known to uncover murders from poisoning due to this ability.
The field of toxicology has developed and evolved significantly since that time. Today, forensic toxicologists help investigators identify the causes of death that include poisons, chemicals, and intoxicating substances. They assist in the prosecution of DUI and DWI arrests and can detect the presence of drugs or alcohol in a suspect or victim’s blood.
Aspiring toxicologists should have a firm grasp of chemistry, biology, or both, as well as knowledge of pharmacology. ZipRecruiter’s self-reported average salary is $85,670—ranging from $25,500 to $152,000. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Despite their notoriety and their known ties to organized crime, some of the United States’ most famous gang leaders were ultimately brought to justice through financial and tax violations. The first forensic accountants were instrumental in successfully prosecuting Al Capone.
Forensic accountants specialize in financial crimes and are trained to follow the money trail. They work to weed out fraud and to help protect bank accounts. Forensic accountants also assist courts in assessing awards and damages and to identify and investigate financiers of terrorism.
Forensic accountants can earn up to $150,000 a year and should have a bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting at a minimum. The majority of ZipRecruiter self-reports earn from $67,500 to $92,500. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Forensic engineers work with machinery and structures. When a bridge collapses for no apparent reason, forensic engineers determine how it happened and why. They can pinpoint foul play and differentiate it from structural failure due to age and lack of maintenance.
This career path requires at least an engineering degree. The program you choose should be approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. The BLS puts the median salary for this profession at about $85,000 annually. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Grisly crimes and cold cases call for the expertise of someone who specializes in identifying human remains. Anthropologists can determine the age, sex, and weight of a victim by studying decomposed physical remains and skeletal systems, as well as the types of injuries the victim received and the potential cause of death in many cases.
Forensic anthropologists often work at colleges and universities and provide assistance to law enforcement entities on an as-needed, contractual basis. They generally hold a master’s degree or a doctorate in physical anthropology and can expect to earn a median salary of about $62,000 a year, according to BLS. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Sometimes DNA identification is impractical and fingerprint analysis is impossible. Forensic odontologists use unique dental features to identify human remains when particularly gruesome crimes occur or after mass casualty events. They can also analyze bite marks and compare them to samples to help identify victims and suspects, as well as help investigators, determine whether injuries are defensive or offensive.
Forensic odontologists have doctorates in dental surgery or dental medicine and they usually practice general dentistry and perform forensics services in addition to their dental practices. Forensic odontologists earn between $150,000 and $180,000, according to the American Dental Association. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Forensic psychologists provide psychological services and analysis for nearly every facet of the criminal justice system. They perform important services to corrections, courts, and law enforcement, from jury consulting to prison counseling. The job also involves investigating allegations of child abuse, and they evaluate victims, witnesses, and suspects for veracity and competency. This helps judges determine whether a suspect can stand trial.
Forensic psychologists also perform the important work of evaluating law enforcement candidates during the hiring process. On average, forensic psychologists earn from about $40,000 to more than $120,000 a year, reports BLS. Salaries can vary greatly depending on the level of education, expertise, and employer. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
Forensic pathologists provide one of the most important components of any homicide investigation: They determine the cause of death. Also known as medical examiners, forensic pathologists employ their medical training to identify which, if any, injuries were fatal. They can also help investigators learn the type of weapon used and determine an approximate time of death.
Pathologists play a crucial role in learning whether or not a crime even occurred. Forensic pathologists are medical doctors and can earn more than $200,000 per year. The average self-reported salary in the PayScale database is $102,751. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
An arson investigator uses residue, ash, and other substances left after a fire to pinpoint whether such an event was intentional arson or the result of an accident. They might be called on scene to analyze the behavior and characteristics of fires while they’re still in progress. An arson investigator’s science is flames.
The education required for a career as an arson investigator is on par with that of police officers. You don’t necessarily need a college degree, although it would certainly enhance your resume, particularly if you choose a criminal justice-related major or one in the field of fire science or chemistry. Mean pay is about $64,000 annually, according to BLS. ( what are the best colleges for forensic science? )
What Job Is Right for You?
Forensic science careers can be rewarding and challenging, and they’re not limited to these profiles. As times change, investigative needs change, so this list is by no means encompassing. what are the best colleges for forensic science? Your Choice!