What Can You Do With A Forensic Science Degree

Alyssa Omandac

What Can You Do With A
Forensic Science Degree

A forensic science degree provides an education into the application of science in the legal system. Forensic science graduates learn how to analyze evidence during a criminal investigation. Forensic scientists assist law enforcement agencies by reviewing DNA, fingerprints, toxicology, ballistics, and other factors that may influence the prosecution of a crime.

Forensic sciences include a large range of specializations. Forensic science graduates may choose to specialize in bloodstain pattern analysis, forensic accounting, digital forensics, or dozens of other subdivisions in this field. Depending on their career ambitions, forensic science graduates may work in laboratories or spend time collecting and preserving evidence at crime scenes.

Typical employers for Forensic Science graduates

Local and State Governments
Federal Law Enforcement Agencies
Criminal Investigation and Security Services
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Clinics

Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories
Hospitals and Nursing Homes

12 Career Options

  1. Forensic Science Technician
  2. What they do

    Forensic science technician is a broad job category that may include employment at a law enforcement agency or diagnostic laboratory. Forensic science technicians analyze evidence collected by crime scene investigators and typically work in a lab setting. They may need to analyze blood spatter patterns, fingerprints, DNA, and other evidence. In some cases, they need to testify in court to help jurors understand forensic evidence. Find out more about what is it like working as a Forensic Science Technician.

    How to become one

    Becoming a forensic science technician requires a Bachelor’s degree in forensic science. This job is often a starting point for forensic science graduates who want to obtain work experience while continuing their education for a Master’s degree. New forensic science technicians may need to complete on-the-job training while assisting an experienced technician before becoming a full-time technician.

    How much they make


  3. Forensic Toxicologist
  4. What they do

    Forensic toxicologists examine bodily fluids and tissue samples to detect chemicals or drugs present in the body. They typically work in labs, testing samples collected by forensic pathologists or forensic autopsy technicians during an autopsy and evidence collected by crime scene investigators.

    How to become one

    Forensic toxicologists need a Bachelor’s degree in forensic sciences or a related field such as toxicology, clinical chemistry, or chemistry. However, this is a highly competitive field and requires a Master’s degree in some regions. The college or university you choose should also be accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accrediting Commission (FEPAC).

    How much they make


  5. Arson Investigator
  6. What they do

    An arson investigator helps determine the cause of fires. Their determination helps law enforcement agencies decide whether criminal activity was involved. They may also uncover evidence that can be used to prosecute criminals. This job involves travel as arson investigators need to physically examine the site of the fire. Find out more about what is it like working as an Arson Investigator.

    How to become one

    Becoming an arson investigator requires multiple steps, typically starting with a firefighter certificate obtained through a firefighter academy. However, some investigators choose to start with an Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, criminal justice, or forensic science. The next step is to complete an arson investigator training program in your state. You may then apply for arson investigator positions.

    How much they make


  7. Crime Scene Investigator
  8. What they do

    A crime scene investigator searches for and collects evidence at the scene of a crime. They are responsible for processing the crime scene, which typically involves taking photographs and packaging or labeling evidence. They must also oversee the safe transport of evidence and may need to write reports or testify in court.

    How to become one

    Some states may hire crime scene investigators with just a high school diploma or GED. However, most law enforcement agencies require applicants to have a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as science, criminal justice, or forensic science. An understanding of legal procedures is also useful for those seeking this career.

    How much they make


  9. Computer Forensic Examiner
  10. What they do

    A computer forensic examiner gathers, recovers, and analyzes evidence obtained from computers and digital devices. They work with local, state, or federal law enforcement agencies to solve crimes and present evidence for prosecution. Cases may involve identity theft, scams, and electronic fraud.

    How to become one

    There are no specific requirements for computer forensic examiner jobs. However, a Bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related discipline can increase your chances of finding employment. The most important factor is your previous work experience. Many computer forensic examiners first gain entry-level work as lab technicians or forensic science technicians.

    How much they make


  11. DNA Analyst
  12. What they do

    A DNA analyst analyzes DNA collected from the scene of a crime. They also present their findings to investigators or detectives and may need to testify as expert witnesses to explain their findings to jurors. DNA analysts also check the work of other DNA analysts to peer review their findings for increased accuracy.

    How to become one

    You need a Bachelor’s degree to become a DNA analyst. Common majors include forensic science, biology, and chemistry. You should also complete coursework in biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, and statistics to round out your education. A Master’s degree or Ph.D. can accelerate advancement in this career.

    How much they make


  13. Forensic Anthropologist
  14. What they do

    A forensic anthropologist analyzes human remains typically as part of a criminal investigation. They study the remains to help determine the cause of death or to identify the remains. This job involves the handling, cleaning, and inspecting of human remains in various states of decomposition. Forensic anthropologists must also compile reports on their findings and often work closely with investigators. Find out more about what is it like working as a Forensic Anthropologist.

    How to become one

    The minimum requirement for becoming a forensic anthropologist is a Master’s degree in human biology or anthropology. However, most forensic anthropologists have Ph.D.s. It is a highly competitive field with limited demand. Most forensic anthropologists enter the field as lecturers or professors at universities.

    How much they make


  15. Forensic Autopsy Technician
  16. What they do

    Forensic autopsy technicians assist forensic pathologists. They also handle a variety of clerical duties, including compiling autopsy reports. Other job duties include contacting relatives of the deceased, accepting bodies into a morgue, and transferring bodies to funeral homes. This is often an entry-level job for those wanting to become forensic pathologists.

    How to become one

    Becoming a forensic autopsy technician requires a Bachelor’s degree in forensic sciences, chemistry, or biology. You may also need one year of experience in a related setting such as a hospital or morgue. Some states also require licensing. While licensing requirements vary from state to state, you typically need a Bachelor’s degree and work experience before applying for a license.

    How much they make


  17. Forensic Nurse
  18. What they do

    A forensic nurse works with crime victims and helps gather the medical evidence that can be used to prosecute crimes. Due to the nature of this job, forensic nurses frequently work with victims of sexual assault and are required to address the physical and emotional needs of the victims. They may also provide medical testimony in court and work with legal authorities to build a case against a culprit.

    How to become one

    Becoming a forensic nurse is an extensive process that starts with a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. With a Bachelor’s degree in forensic science, you can enroll in a graduate-level nursing program, which is typically completed in one or two years. The next step is to obtain a Master’s degree in forensic nursing and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse in your state. You may then seek employment as a forensic nurse.

    How much they make


  19. Forensic Pathologist
  20. What they do

    Forensic pathologists perform autopsies to determine the cause and time of death of the deceased. They often need to study bodily tissue in a laboratory setting. Forensic pathologists write detailed reports on the condition of the deceased, which may also include findings related to toxicology, trauma, or underlying health conditions. They may also need to present their findings during testimony in a courtroom. Find out more about what is it like working as a Forensic Pathologist.

    How to become one

    Aspiring forensic pathologists often start as forensic autopsy technicians, which is an entry-level position for those with a Bachelor’s degree in forensic science or a related field. To advance and become a forensic pathologist, you need a Doctor of Medicine degree, a physician’s license, and board certification in forensic pathology.

    How much they make


  21. Fingerprint Examiner
  22. What they do

    Also called a fingerprint analyst or latent print examiner, a fingerprint examiner preserves, studies, and evaluates fingerprints as part of a criminal investigation. This job requires fingerprint examiners to process various fingerprint samples, enhance the visibility of prints using computer software, and identify or label latent prints.

    How to become one

    Most employers hire fingerprint examiners with a Bachelor’s degree in forensic science. In some cases, an employer may accept an Associate’s degree and several years of work experience. The International Association for Identification (IAI) also provides professional certification for this field. While certification is not mandatory, some employers may prefer candidates with a professional certification.

    How much they make


  23. Criminalist
  24. What they do

    A criminalist examines physical evidence to help investigate crimes. Common job duties include consulting with experts, examining crime scene evidence, and offering expert testimony in the courtroom. Criminalists may work in the field, the lab, or a combination of the two. They are frequently employed by local, state, or federal law enforcement agencies. Find out more about what is it like working as a Criminalist.

    How to become one

    You need a Bachelor’s degree to obtain a job as a criminalist. You should also join your state’s criminalist association, which can provide access to additional training and job-seeking assistance. Certification is not required but a certification through the American Board of Criminalistics can improve your career prospects.

    How much they make