Science Career Information:
documents below are to
help prospective and current undergraduate students learn about the
real-life expectations and
opportunities for a career in forensic science. Remember, with
a degree in a bona fide science like
chemistry, especially one with an emphasis in analytical chemistry
your employment prospects will be much broader than forensic science.
Even in this economy, the unemployment
rate for job-seekers with a
degree in chemistry
is extremely low (<4 %).
Upon graduating and
applying for a forensic science-related position,
you will very likely have to undergo a rigorous background check to
ensure that you do not have a criminal record or history of drug use. Both
factors raise questions about your character and make you
less employable. You will be expected to testify in court quite often
your role as a forensic chemist, so a history of unethical/questionable
behavior would make your testimony highly questionable. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) published "Qualifications for a Career in Forensic Science" as part of its Education and Training in Forensic Science: A Guide for Forensic Science Laboratories, Educational Institutions, and Students, p. 7-10.
The American Chemical Society (ACS.org) has put together a short
description of what to expect from a career as a forensic chemist. A
link to this description is here.
Follow these links to compare educational preparation and job expectations in the following careers:
Forensic Chemistry (the major offered at Ohio University)
Crime Scene Investigation
Forensic Science in
the US: A Path Forward (2009)
2005 the Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies
Appropriations Act of 2006 became law. According to this law, The
National Academies of Science established a Forensic Science Committee
in the fall of 2006 to complete the study on forensic science for the
Senate report. Two years later, the Committee released an
executive summary and a full length report of their findings. Both
documents are provided below.
"Strengthening Forensic Science" A Path Forward" National Academies
image for article
Scientist: A Career in the
Crime Lab (from 1999)
article describes what forensic scientists actually do.
Forensic scientist can be general or specialized in areas such as
biology, chemistry, toxicology, firearms, and fingerprints.
They work in crime labs run by the city, county, government, or private
sectors. They work on analyzing evidence and writing reports to sum up
their results. Salaries range from $20,000-$100,000 depending
on experience. Forensic scientists must work well
independently, have good oral and written communication skills, have
lab experience, and must have a minimum of a bachelors degree
in a natural science (e.g. chemistry or biology) with an MS or Ph.D.
Dillon "Forensic Scientists: A Career in the Crime Lab", Occupational Outlook
Quarterly, Fall 1999, 2-7
About Hamilton County Crime
Dean (Director Hamilton County Coroner's Office) provides answers to
some FAQs about employment in a coroner's office. In many
jurisdictions, coroners' offices perform forensic testing of evidence
submitted by police officers.
Dean "FAQ About the Crime Laboratory"
Pieces Related to Forensic
that many of these articles are written by journalists or lawyers
Myths: The Shaky Science Behind
Forensic Science (2009)
was found guilty of second degree murder due to forensic odontology
evidence and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Fifteen years later the man who actually committed the crime was
matched due to DNA evidence and the first convicted was set free. This
article is similar to articles promulgated by those related to the
innocence project, which have quite rightly demanded more scientific
rigor in the "police" or "comparison" sciences.
Reagan "CSI Myths: The Shaky Science Behind Forensics" Popular Mechanics, August
image for article
in Court (2010)
this series of articles, Nature Magazine examines different aspects of
forensic science. In one article, Co-founders of the Innocence Project
Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck support the NAS recommendations
in the report Strengthening
Forensic Science: A Path Forward (See link above).
The authors support the establishment of an office of forensic
science improvement and support (OFSIS), which would be responsible for
the standards for all forensic sciences. There is a minority
who opposed this idea saying that it would cost too much and would
reopen too many old cases.
in Court, Nature,
March 18, 2010, 464
Neufeld & Barry Scheck "Making Forensic Science More
Scientific" Nature, March