Forensic Investigator

How to Become a Forensic Investigator
Forensic Investigator Job Description
Skills and Qualities of a Forensic Investigator
Forensic Investigator Salaries
Influential Forensic Investigators
Leading Organizations for Forensic Investigators
Top Cities for Forensic Investigator Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Forensic Investigator

Most jobs in the field of forensic investigation usually require a four year degree in applied science or a science related field. Knowledge and understanding of the legal system is also very helpful for those seeking positions as a forensic investigator. About twenty-five schools in the United States offer a degree in natural sciences with an emphasis on forensic science or criminology. In order to be successful as a forensic investigator, hands on training is necessary. This can be accomplished through internships or summer jobs in forensic laboratories. Newly hired employees who have hands on experience in the field with exposure to a variety of laboratory equipment and computer programs usually require less on the job training than those who lack these experiences.

What does a Forensic Investigator do?

Forensic investigators help with criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing physical evidence, using science to answer questions of interest to the legal system. Proper collection and storage of materials is vital in this line of work. Investigators document their findings and laboratory methods used in reports that may include their professional opinions. If a case goes to trial, forensic investigators are often called as expert witnesses to testify regarding their findings. Often forensic investigators specialize in one type of investigation, such as DNA analysis or firearms investigations.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Forensic Investigator?

Communication skills are very important for forensic investigators, who are often asked to report their findings both verbally and in writing. In addition, investigators should have good interpersonal skills as they often work with a team of investigators. Since much of the work of forensic investigators is done with computers, individuals in this field should have strong computer skills.

How much does a Forensic Investigator make?

Median earnings for all forensic scientists were $47,680 per year in 2007. The middle fifty percent earned between $36,560 and $61,210 in 2007. Although the Federal Executive Branch employs relatively few forensic investigators, the wages of those employed by the Federal government are significantly higher than those employed in other settings.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Thomas L. Bohan , PhD, JD is the current president elect of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the director of Medical and Technical Consultants in Portland, Maine. He has written several technical articles and papers covering physics and engineering topics that have been published in peer reviewed journals and a two volume book titled Forensic Accident Investigation: Motor Vehicles. Bohan has been the chair of several committees in different organizations within the field of forensic investigators and received many awards including a Law, Science, and Technology Fellowship from the Franklin Pierce Law Center and two Fullbright Professorships awarded by the U.S. Department of State.

Carol Henderson, JD is the current president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, a tenured professor at Stetson University, College of Law in Florida, a visiting professor at J.D. George Washington University, and the Director for the National Clearing House for Science, Technology, and the Law. As a recognized authority in scientific evidence, ethics, and criminal law, she has made several media appearances, including 48 Hours on CBS and The John Walsh Show on NBC, and written more than 45 articles and book chapters for the American Bar Association Journal and other prominent publications. Henderson has presented more than 200 workshops and lectures and workshops in eleven countries. In 1999, Henderson received the American Academy of Forensic Sciences' Jurisprudence Section's Harold A. Feder Award. The American College of Legal Medicine made her an honorary member.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The American Chemical Society was founded in 1876 and incorporated under a congressional charter in 1937. With over 160,000 members, this organization is now the largest scientific society in the world. The ACS is an independent member organization that represents individuals in all fields of chemistry. This organization is a leading publisher of peer reviewed journals in chemical sciences and related fields. Its flagship journal, the Journal of the American Chemical Society has been published since 1879. Members receive access to ACS publications, networking opportunities though discipline specific divisions, and career services.

The American Academy of Forensic Sciences is an organization dedicated to serving diverse professionals in their endeavors to apply science to the law. The membership of nearly 6,000 includes physicians, attorneys, dentists, toxicologists, physical anthropologists, and criminologists, and others from fifty-four countries around the world. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences is dedicated to education and the elevation of accuracy within the field through the Journal of Forensic Sciences, newsletters, an annual scientific meeting, and local meetings and seminars. This organization also represents its members to the public and provides the public with information regarding the forensic sciences.

What are the top cities for Forensic Investigator jobs?

Those who are looking for a career as a forensic investigator should check out available openings in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Other cities with good job prospects include Louisville, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee. Those who prefer locations farther west might find employment in Los Angeles, California and Phoenix, Arizona.

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