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How To Become a Forensic Scientist - Complete Guide

Published By Team Setmycareer on Sep 20, 2023 Updated On 03-11-2023

This guide will help you understand the steps and skills needed to become a Forensic Scientist. It outlines the extensive education, licensing requirements, and experience needed to succeed in this Science Career


So you want to be a forensic scientist? This exciting career combines science, investigation, and justice to help solve crimes. As a forensic scientist, you'll collect and analyze physical evidence from crime scenes to uncover clues that can identify suspects, causes of death, and other critical details.

Becoming a forensic scientist takes dedication and hard work, but it's an incredibly rewarding career for those who have an analytical mindset and passion for investigation.

Forensic Scientists use analytical and scientific techniques to examine evidence from crimes and prepare legal statements that summaries the results for court cases. Forensic Science work generally involves one or more areas of science Chemistry Involves the study of paint, chemicals, and similar substances and compounds.

Biology involves trace and DNA evidence, including blood, hair, fibers, etc. Drugs and toxicology Involves testing for the presence or absence of drugs, alcohol and poisons in blood, urine, and tissues samples.

The duties of a Forensic Scientist includes to carrying out laboratory examinations and analyses submitted by law enforcement agencies and medical examiners and serving as expert witnesses in a court of law. They also carry out tests using scientific techniques, such as infrared spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and scanning electron microscopy. They are also engaged in inputting data into computer programs and utilizing relevant computer database information and developing, maintaining and updating work quality standards, standard operating procedures, and similar methods and procedures and Coordinating work with other members of the forensic team and with outside agencies.


Learn -How To Become a Forensic Science Technician

Work Environment

  • Forensic Scientist typically work normal office hours, they may have to do shifts or be on call. Crimes may happen at any time, so they must be prepared to work evenings and weekends.

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Entry Level Education

  • Bachelor’s / Master’s Degree in Forensic Science.
  • PG Diploma in Forensic Science.
  • Ph.D in Forensic Science, M.Phill in Forensic Science.

Steps To Become A Forensic Scientist

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to kickstart your journey into the world of forensic science:

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in a Relevant Field

Your first step toward becoming a forensic scientist is to earn a bachelor's degree, typically in a natural science field such as:

  • Forensic science
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Biochemistry

Some forensic scientists choose to specialize in a particular field, such as DNA analysis or ballistics. If you have a specialization in mind, opt for a major closely aligned with that subfield. However, if you want a broader education in forensic science, a degree in chemistry or biology will provide a solid scientific foundation.

During your undergraduate program, you can expect to take courses like:

  • Organic and analytical chemistry
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology
  • Calculus and statistics
  • Forensic chemistry
  • Criminalistics

You'll also gain valuable hands-on experience in labs and may have the opportunity to complete an internship, which will help you develop the investigative, analytical, and practical skills needed for success in this field.

Learn About - How To Become A Forensic Science Technician

Step 2: Earn a Graduate Degree (Optional)

While some forensic scientist positions require only a bachelor's degree, obtaining a graduate degree can expand your job prospects and earning potential. Common graduate programs for aspiring forensic scientists include:

  • Master's in Forensic Science: This program provides specialized training in forensic disciplines like trace evidence, forensic toxicology, and forensic DNA analysis. It's the most direct path to becoming a forensic scientist.
  • Master's in Chemistry/Biology: This option allows you to take advanced courses to specialize in a particular scientific field while still gaining some exposure to forensic science.
  • PhD in Chemistry/Biology: Recommended if you aspire to lead a forensic laboratory or conduct independent research. You'll be required to produce and defend a dissertation that advances forensic science methodologies.

When evaluating graduate programs, look for those with forensic science accreditation and hands-on lab work that aligns with your specialization goals.

Step 3: Gain Relevant Work Experience

In addition to formal education, most forensic science jobs require some lab or investigative experience. Here are some ways to gain relevant skills and experience during or after your studies:

  • Intern at a forensic lab: Seek opportunities with your local or state crime lab or police department to gain direct experience in forensic science.
  • Volunteer to assist professors: Approach professors and inquire about helping with research studies, lab analysis, or fieldwork they are conducting.
  • Secure a job in a related field: Look for employment as a lab technician, chemist, biologist, or criminal investigator to build relevant hard and soft skills.

Any experience that exposes you to the process of collecting and documenting evidence, conducting scientific analyses, and preparing technical reports will prove invaluable as you prepare for a career as a forensic scientist.

Step 4: Consider Certification

While certification is voluntary, it can demonstrate your competency and provide an advantage when applying for forensic science jobs. Two respected certifying organizations to consider are:

  • American Board of Criminalistics: This organization offers certification in areas such as molecular biology, drug analysis, and trace evidence examination. To qualify, you must hold a bachelor's degree and meet experience and testing requirements.
  • American Board of Forensic Toxicology: This certification focuses on toxicology expertise and requires a bachelor's degree, 36 months of full-time relevant work experience, and passing an exam.

Keep in mind that maintaining continuing education credits and renewing certifications periodically is essential. It's advisable to get certified in your expected specialty, whether it's drug chemistry or DNA analysis.

Learn About - How To Become A Forensic Accountant

Step 5: Search and Apply for Forensic Science Jobs

Once you have obtained the required degree, gained relevant experience, and obtained the necessary credentials, you'll be prepared to start applying for full-time forensic scientist positions. Entry-level positions to consider include:

  • Forensic science technician
  • Crime scene investigator
  • Crime lab analyst
  • Ballistics specialist

You can find job openings with various organizations, including:

  • State and local government crime labs
  • Coroner and medical examiner offices
  • State police and city law enforcement agencies
  • Federal agencies like the FBI, DEA, and Secret Service
  • Private forensic investigation firms

To build a strong and successful career as a forensic scientist, keep these additional tips in mind:

  • Consider earning a graduate degree to open up more job opportunities, specializations, and leadership roles.
  • Get certified in your field of expertise to demonstrate your capabilities.
  • Stay updated on the latest technology, such as new DNA analysis techniques and digital forensics methods, as this field evolves rapidly.
  • Develop strong communication skills to produce sound reports and provide expert testimony in court.
  • Cultivate a meticulous attention to detail, enabling you to spot even the smallest hair, fiber, or blood splatter that could crack a case.
  • Maintain objectivity and avoid letting external opinions influence your evidence analysis; your primary duty is to seek and present the scientific truth.


With your scientific acumen, analytical skills, and commitment to justice, an exciting career as a forensic scientist awaits. Follow the steps outlined in this guide to transform your dreams of crime scene investigation into a reality.

Disclaimer - This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other College pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals. None of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with SetMyCareer.

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