Even if you’re familiar with some of the different careers in forensics, you may not know the specific paths that lead to them, or the options and decision points that present themselves along the way. So, we’ve carved out a section of our blog to provide very detailed, step-by-step, descriptions of how to become everything from a forensic accountant to a forensic psychologist. Like many career paths, forensics career paths can be complex and nuanced, and are rarely “one size fits all”, so we’ve attempted to break down the major decision points, and clarify the essential component skills, experiences, and educational qualifications for each path, along with the personality traits, likes and dislikes that might make one career a better fit than another.
Fire investigators, also known as arson investigators, perform an invaluable service to society: they determine the causes of fires, and when necessary, whether a criminal act of arson was involved. These professionals employ both the skills of a scientist and those of a detective in their investigations.
Forensic toxicologists work in laboratories, often those operated by government agencies or law enforcement, to identify chemicals and compounds that could have contributed to crimes or have other administrative or legal consequences. This can include identifying illicit substances in bodies that may have been the victims of foul play, performing administrative drug testing, or identifying hazardous chemicals in the environment.
At the intersection of medical and legal matters is where the work of a forensic pathologist begins. Known as “death detectives,” forensic pathologists are specially-trained physicians tasked with determining the cause of unexpected or violent deaths.
Forensic science technicians have a regular presence at crime scenes, aiding in the process of criminal investigations under a crime scene leader or field supervisor. The role involves helping to collect, document, and analyze evidence and submitting it to the crime laboratory.
Fraud investigation is the research of intentional criminal deception and involves civil and criminal methods of examination. Professional fraud investigators have a variety of job responsibilities in corporate or government-based institutions.
The crime scene investigator, also called a CSI, will come to crime scenes in order to conduct an investigation and to collect evidence, and although there are varied paths to becoming a crime scene investigator, they typically involve a mix of rigorous coursework and empirical training.
A forensic counselor’s decisions can drastically alter the course of someone’s life and that’s one of the reasons why rigorous academic and licensure requirements are in place for this profession.
Real detective work is far removed from the glamorous media portrayals, requiring incredible patience, investigative rigor, and ironclad ethics. In addition to being exposed to potentially dangerous individuals and situations, the process of solving cases can take months or even years, much of it spent poring over documents, photographs, and files.