How can I become a forensic scientist?

Would you like to work as a forensic scientist, writing reports, carrying out laboratory visits, or attending a court as an expert witness? If you think this is the career for you then read on for more information.

How can I become a forensic scientist?

Beware – forensic scientists and scenes of crime officers are not the same as they appear on television. Scenes of crime officers will collect evidence from a crime scene. This evidence is then analysed by forensic scientists back in the lab. Scenes of crime officers are generally recruited and trained by the police force (although they are civilians, not police officers). You can find out more on the Centrex (Central Police Training and Development Agency) website.

Forensic Scientists use their scientific and analytical skills to analyse evidence in the laboratory. This is a competitive field – jobs in forensic science are few and far between. The best route to take is to do a degree in chemistry, analytical chemistry or biology. These courses give you a firm grounding in the science and laboratory and analytical techniques and skills you need for a career in forensic science. These courses also keep many other career options open should you change your mind or find it difficult to get work as a forensic scientist after graduation.

Forensic science degree courses are now quite common but it is important to check that the course content is appropriate for the kind of career you would like to pursue – for example, does it include enough time in the laboratory to satisfy future employers? Ask the university you are applying to for information about the first jobs their graduates go on to .

If you are interested in pursuing a career in this area, the Forensic Science Service can provide further useful information. You can also find out more about this kind of work by clicking on the link below to our profile of a forensic scientist.

Useful websites

Forensic Science Society
Bringing together practitioners, academics and researchers in the field of forensic science.

NPIA – National Policing Improvement Agency 
Find out what’s involved in becoming a crime scene investigator or a fingerprint officer.

A profile of a forensic scientist.