Forensic scientists work in just about every field of science, including anthropology, biology, physics, and psychology. Deciding which specialty you want to work in is the first step in getting the forensics work experience you will need to start your career. For example, if you want to work as a crime scene forensic scientist, look for positions that give you experience within the criminal justice system, while if you want to study evidence from past civilizations, your goal should include working on a research team or at a museum.
Before you can begin obtaining forensics work experience, you will need an education in your chosen field. If you plan to work with biological samples from crime scenes, such as blood and other bodily fluids, a degree in biology or chemistry will be helpful. If studying bone remains is your goal, get a degree in anthropology or archeology. In many cases, a Bachelor’s degree is enough to get you started, although some positions may require a Masters degree or higher.
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Your degree program adviser or college professors may be able to help you gain some forensics work experience while you are working on your education. Volunteer for as many opportunities as you can, as long as they don’t interfere with your education. College internships are often part of the requirements to obtain your degree, and can be an excellent chance to develop contacts in your field. Once you finish school, get in touch with those contacts to see if they have any entry-level openings.
Getting forensics work experience in an actual crime lab can be difficult. Most places require their employees to pass a series of background checks as well as physical and psychological exams to ensure that they are qualified to work with sensitive evidence. Unfortunately, employers are usually not willing to perform these expensive checks unless they are planning to hire you on permanently. Try combining internships at a different type of laboratory, such as at a medical facility, with volunteer work through a law enforcement agency to gain your forensics work experience.
Less sensitive specialties that do not require a security clearance, such as anthropology and archeology, may be a little easier to get forensics work experience with than crime lab work. You will most likely still need to start out as an unpaid or low-paid intern. Large museums are a good place to start, as they often have research facilities that require interns and other types of volunteers. Although you may not be working directly with forensic materials, you will still gain valuable laboratory experience.