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So you want to work in Forensics?

In the forensics industry forensic scientists search for and examine contact trace material that is associated with crimes. They also provide scientific, impartial evidence in court cases to support either the defence or the prosecution in both civil and criminal investigations. The trace material can include hairs, clothing fibres, blood and other body fluids, glass or paint fragments, flammable substances used to start fires and footprints or tyre marks. Crime scene investigators and crime scene technicians will be some of the first people to attend crime scenes before evidence goes back to the lab for further investigation.

The main areas of forensics include biology, which is connected to crimes against people like assault and murder, drugs and toxicology, and chemistry, which is connected to crimes against property, like arson and burglary.

While most of the work is laboratory based, some experienced forensic scientists will also attend crime scenes.

The work may be distressing or stressful at times, especially when attending the scene of a crime. There is also a lot of responsibility involved with presenting and defending evidence in court under cross-examination.

Types of jobs in the Forensics industry include:

  • Crime Scene Technician
  • Evidence Technician
  • Computer Forensics
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Fingerprint Analyst
  • Blood Spatter Analyst
  • Arson & Fire Investigator
  • Ballistics Expert

Personal Skills

Five key skills that will help you score a job in the Forensics industry:

  • An enquiring mind and a persistent approach
  • The ability to undertake painstaking, analytical work with excellent attention to detail
  • A logical, methodical and unbiased approach to problem solving
  • Strong written and oral communication skills to communicate scientific information to others
  • The ability to work to deadlines

Interview and Job Hunting tips

  • Try contacting potential employers who may be willing to take you on as a short-term work experience candidate (typically unpaid) or, if you can, find paid temporary or part-time work to get some experience.
  • Any laboratory work will provide you with beneficial experience, whether it is in the pharmaceutical industry, a university, or even in a hospital lab.
  • Even if you are applying for entry-level graduate jobs, any experience you can get will help to set you apart from other applicants, especially when there is quite a lot of competition.
  • These days more jobs are being advertised on LinkedIn which, even if you don’t plan on using it for looking for jobs, is a great way to get into networking and showing off the qualifications and skills you’ve gained.
  • Finding a position in forensics requires a lot of patience and persistence. Remember that sometimes there will be hundreds of applications for a single position so try not to become too disheartened.