Have you been hooked by crime scene investigation shows? Do you love watching your favorite detectives solve bizarre crimes using the science of forensics? Thinking about eventually pursuing a career in forensic sciences? Then read on.
Forensic Science Beyond TV Drama
Forensics is a career path that is becoming more and more popular as the science and technology behind it becomes more advanced. Although a career in forensics is sure to be very different from its depiction on TV, there are many aspects that do apply. A good forensic scientist can completely change the complexion of a major court case with one piece of evidence.
I Have To Pay Attention In My Biology Class?
Forensics is largely rooted in the hard sciences, so if you’ve been dozing off in biology class but you want to solve forensics cases as a career, you might want to pay a bit closer attention. Biology is important to the science of forensics because DNA and other biological evidence are critical to solving various kinds of court cases like murder trials and paternity claims.
The other major sciences—physics and chemistry—also play a crucial role when examining a crime scene. For instance, weapons analysis and ballistics take into account the physical trajectory of a bullet, while the field of toxicology uses chemistry and biology to determine the use of poison.
The Difference Between TV and Reality
Forensics simply takes fields out of the science lab and into a crime lab. The crime scene is the basis for any tests run back at the lab, and there is a tremendous amount of problem solving involved as scientists try to extract as much evidence from a scene as possible. Those montages you see on CSI? Usually, it takes more than a few minutes of work to come up with evidence-based conclusions. As exciting as the montages make it look, forensics involves lots of close attention to detail and investment of time.
Not every forensic scientist is on the scene, as is usually depicted on TV. Usually several scientists handle a criminal case with specific roles being divided amongst team members. There is the medical examiner who focuses on the aspects of the case that a doctor or medical professional would. To get a job like this you need a medical background and follow a career path similar to that of a doctor, except more focused on forensics. Expect to perform lots of autopsies.
Crime Scene Examiners Get All the Air Time
Then there is the crime laboratory analyst who focuses more on the DNA and chemical aspects of the case back at the lab, and therefore need a strong natural science background.
Crime scene examiners are the ones on the crime scene, assessing the scene as a whole. Examiners combine a natural science background with a criminal justice one to tie together the crime itself with the science behind it. This is the job most glorified by the TV dramas, but without the other members of the team, it would be impossible to solve a criminal case. If your favorite part of the TV show is the detective work, this position might be the one for you.
I Can’t Deal With the Bodies and Blood
There are other jobs within the field of forensics that don’t always get such a high profile on TV shows.
One of these positions is that of the forensic engineer. This job requires a forensics background as well as an engineering degree and is helpful in piecing together how accidents, fires, or wrongful deaths might occur. It’s not as glorified as the crime scene examiner, but it’s a perfect field for those of us who want to solve cases without dealing with bodies and blood.
There is also the psychological aspect of forensics. This includes those who do psychological profiling for cases, which is critical to understanding the social science aspect of a crime scene.
So if CSI or other crime scene investigation shows are your thing, there are many different careers in the field to choose from. The important thing is to focus on an aspect of the field you are most interested in and work hard at honing the skills needed. You might not be a part of a TV drama, but you can accomplish great things in the field of forensics.