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Degree Forensic Science - What You Need to Know About Getting a Degree in Forensic Science - Course of Study One: The Lab

field forensics major crime

Forensic science. It’s the lifeblood of modern criminal investigations. With its judicial use, guilty criminals are pinpointed and the innocent are set free. Maybe you first developed an interest in forensics by watching shows like CSI or Dexter. While it’s not exactly like in the TV shows, forensic science is a fast-paced and rewarding field to work in. The pay rate is good, but competition is also very high. Top candidates need to make themselves stand out with great grades and college awards, and better yet, real experience in the field. Check out this guide to learn about the two major courses of study that you can choose from in forensic science, and how to give yourself the best chances of landing the job you want.

Course of Study One: The Lab

The first option is truly all about the science of forensics. This is for people who spend most to all of the workday in the crime lab doing hard science. They’re the ones who analyze samples, run DNA tests, and in general work with hard data throughout the day. In terms of TV shows, they’re the ones in the white lab coats.

If you are a science-lover who is infatuated with the processes and procedures at work in DNA testing, fingerprinting, ballistics, etc, then you should definitely check this course of study out. As far as science careers go, this is a cutting-edge and high-demand field. Not only is the work and funding steady, but scientists here also get the rush of helping to solve real-time, real-world issues that many of their peers in other fields do not ever come close to.

If you think the forensics lab is for you, then you should pursue a full bachelor’s degree with a major in forensic science. Most major colleges and universities offer this degree, so check your local schools to find one that will work for you.

Course of Study Two: The Field

If, on the other hand, you would rather be out in the field doing crime scene reconnaissance than cooped up in the lab all day, this course of study is more for you. Field forensics agents will actually go to the crime scene to analyze the situation and collect evidence. They are the ones in charge of collecting DNA and fiber samples, getting fingerprints, and analyzing tire treads for clues. Shows like CSI tend to follow this type of action more closely than what goes on in the lab.

If you are more interested in doing field work (with some lab work blended in, of course), then you would be better advised to pursue a criminal justice major with a minor in forensics study. The criminal justice degree will give you more of the background knowledge and preparation you need to navigate crime scenes and see the big picture. Again, most major colleges and universities offer this course of study, as well as many technical programs in your area. Contact your closest college in order to find more information (or referrals to those who do).

How to Land a Forensic Science Job

Because the demand for jobs in this sector is so high, getting your foot in the door can be a tricky preposition. First off, you should do everything in your power to achieve top marks in your forensics classes. Then go the extra mile whenever possible – find ways to get involved with your local police department so your record will reflect your own motivation as well as some actual experience. Your school should be able to help you with this, in the form of internships or work study programs. Or you can always try to secure something on your own – even if it’s just taking out the trash from the laboratories, at least it gets you in a position to ask questions and see some of how a real lab is run.

When you have finished your studies, make yourself as widely available as possible. Be willing to relocate in order to get the best chances of finding a position – apply to police departments and other investigatory agencies all around the country. Use a resource like Crime Scene Investigator Network to find current open positions from around the US.

If you’re diligent in your studies and your job search, you’ll be on your way to the dream job that really makes a difference. It’ll be a hard road to get there, but you’ll be glad you put in the effort!

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