Any science, used for the purpose of the law, is a forensic science. FORENSIC SCIENTISTS apply scientific principles to resolve legal issues. They perform comprehensive chemical and physical analyses on evidence submitted by law enforcement agencies. They prepare reports describing results of their analyses. These documents, along with expert testimony from forensic scientists in a court of law, can be important for convicting the accused. Although most forensic scientists focus on criminal cases, others work in the civil justice system, for example, performing handwriting comparisons to determine the validity of a signature.
Salary, Size & Growth
- $53,000 average per year ($25.50 per hour)
- A small occupation (12,400 workers in 2010)
- Expected to grow rapidly (2.0% per year)
Beginning FORENSIC SCIENTISTS should have at least a bachelor's degree in forensic science, chemistry, biology, or physical anthropology. A master's degree is recommended in some fields, such as engineering, and a doctorate in certain others, such as law. Courses in quantitative analysis and statistics is often required. Laboratory experience with analytical instruments and blood sample analysis is helpful. Employers prefer applicants with computer skills for modeling and simulation tasks and to operate computerized laboratory equipment.