Getting An Education In Criminal Forensics

forensicThe educational requirements for someone engaged in the practice of criminal forensics vary greatly depending on the type work an individual performs.

Most city, state or federal law enforcement agencies maintain some type of laboratory whether it is a very basic lab which does mainly fingerprint processing or a full service laboratory which processes all types of forensic evidence.

Many positions in forensic science require at least a bachelor degree which probably should be in forensic science or criminal justice or crime scene forensics.  A degree in one of these subjects will give you at least some understanding of  fingerprint analysis, DNA analysis, biochemistry, toxicology and much more.  Many of the tests preformed in the laboratories are done by analytical chemists who analyze items such as trace evidence, drugs, hair and fibers, gunshot residue, etc.  You may need to go on for more advanced training in your particular field of interest to qualify for the position desired.

Some positions such as fingerprint analysis may be learned by being trained on the job as an apprentice.


Forensic-Science-S_2132330bMany, but not all of the  positions in the laboratories are staffed by sworn police personnel.

Working with the laboratories are specialists in various areas of forensic science who may work in the laboratories or may be outside help who are called upon for their expertise when required.  These specialists may include the forensic pathologist or the medical examiner both of which require a medical degree plus some advance training.

When you are in high school, if you think you may be interested in a forensic science career, then  in addition to your general studies you probably should complete course work in chemistry and biology.

The collection and preserving of evidence at a crime scene is done by the crime scene investigator (CSI).   The CSI will be expected to take photographs of the evidence, write notes and reports to document the scene without offering any analysis or opinions and provide accurate sketches of the scene together with the reports and photographs documenting the scene.

Some community colleges offer courses in criminal justice and there are CSI certificate training courses available online.  These associate type degrees may be sufficient for an entry level position into the field of  forensic science.  If you are considering an online certificate course for this study be sure you do your research and only enroll in an accredited program.