What are the Different Types of Forensic Careers?

Erin Oxendine

Forensic science is a very important specialty in the criminal justice field. There are different forensic careers such as criminal profiling and computer forensics for local or government agencies. Some forensic careers may focus on the criminal justice system. This includes jobs in law enforcement and the court system. Other experts may work with investigation teams.

A crime scene investigator examines the crime scene and gathers evidence to solve a crime.
A crime scene investigator examines the crime scene and gathers evidence to solve a crime.

Civil courts also employ forensic staff. For example, the forensic professional might need to confirm the signature on a check or legal document. If the document is very old, the lab can study the ink stains. Family members often ask a forensic expert to review the signature on someone's estate documents.

A crime lab analyst inspects material evidence from crime scenes.
A crime lab analyst inspects material evidence from crime scenes.

Law enforcement agencies often hire people for forensic careers. Crime scene investigators review things like fingerprints and tire markings found at crime scenes. Other duties might include investigating blood splatters and shell casings.

Medical examiners may be charged with determining the cause of death of someone who died decades before.
Medical examiners may be charged with determining the cause of death of someone who died decades before.

Another career choice is forensic nursing. This combines medical facts with legal evaluations. Workers may gather and analyze data at crime scenes. A forensic nurse might have to go to the hospital to obtain evidence from the victim’s body.

Forensic experts may be called on to investigate signatures of legal documents.
Forensic experts may be called on to investigate signatures of legal documents.

DNA analysts use their forensic background to check DNA samples. The lab technician looks at DNA found on a victim and will see if there is a match in a database. This is known as DNA profiling.

DNA analysts use their forensic background to check DNA samples.
DNA analysts use their forensic background to check DNA samples.

Medical examiners are one of the most interesting forensic careers. This professional examines the body of the deceased victim to figure out the exact cause of death. A specialization in forensics and a medical degree are required for this position.

Forensic specialists may be used to determine if a fire was caused by arson.
Forensic specialists may be used to determine if a fire was caused by arson.

A forensic engineer specializes in traffic reconstruction, arson and civil claims. Attorneys may consult with forensic engineers regarding train wrecks and building collapses. An engineer would study the mechanical and scientific aspects of the incident.

Independent contractors make up another area of forensic careers. Law firms and other corporations usually hire forensic consultants to cross-check the findings from forensic labs. These individuals serve as expert witnesses and may testify in court.

Computer forensic experts review and secure information found on an alleged criminal’s computer. These professionals look at the person’s Internet history and sites visited. The computer specialist may also look at online bank statements and credit card purchases.

A position in any of these forensic careers would be interesting and challenging. Anyone wanting to get into this field should get a degree and consider advanced courses. Forensic occupations are becoming increasingly popular because of media highlighting this field.

Those working in forensics often use latent powder to develop fingerprints left at the scene of a crime.
Those working in forensics often use latent powder to develop fingerprints left at the scene of a crime.

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