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Know More About Majoring in Forensic Science in College

written by: Ivana Banks•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/8/2011

Forensic Science is a very interesting career that requires individuals to be highly focused, professional, and knowledgeable. The good news is, there are many great college programs that teach students the best in evidence collection and crime laboratory procedures. Let's learn more.

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    What to Expect as a Forensic Science Major

    Blood in glass Students who are enrolling in forensic science as a college major will have a great career that is both fascinating and monetarily rewarding, but becoming a forensic scientist is not for the faint of heart. This profession requires that individuals play a vital role in solving violent crimes and analyzing crime scene evidence. Therefore, while attending classes in forensic science, students will be exposed to inhumane acts of violence, horrific crime scenes, and human mortality.

    While studying forensic science you'll be learning the following lab procedures:

    • Analyzing evidence – At a crime scene, evidence is collected by an investigator and then turned over to a forensic scientist. It is then the responsibility of the forensic scientist to examine the evidence by performing specialized procedures such as scientific methods, mathematical principles, or microscopic examining techniques.
    • Fingerprinting – Forensic scientist match fingerprints against a database of various subjects. This is usually done in order to positively identify a subject as all fingerprints are unique to each individual.
    • Evidence Expert witness testimony – Expert witness testimony is often needed so that an overview of evidence details and crime lab techniques can be explained during the trial. This testimony is used to corroborate and support the results of their final analysis and conclusion.

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    What Courses Do I Have to Take?

    Forensic science majors have to take an array of science and math courses in order to perform their normal daily duties in this profession. Although this career has a variety of niche specialties in which one can enter, the standardize courses for all specialties are:

    • Biology – This teaches students about the fundamental aspect of body fluids, hair fibers, and DNA analysis.
    • Chemistry – Students learn how to analyze blood spatters, paint, glass, oil, and other trace evidence.
    • Firearms and Tool-mark Examinations – This subject involves comparing identifiable characteristic of a firearm with the bullets that was fired from the gun. Likewise, the study of tool-mark examinations matches the specific tool used to the subject that it was used on.
    • Magnifying Glass Document examination – This course trains student to identify when various documents have been forged or tampered with. This course also teaches students to analyze handwriting, typewriting, and computer printed documents.
    • Controlled Substance and Toxicology – Is the study that specifically deals with the effects of drugs, alcohol, and poison within bodily fluids and tissues.
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    Reality vs. Fiction

    Many students are fascinated with forensic science because of the popular TV drama CSI. Even though it's a fantastic and interesting TV show, there are many misconceptions derived from watching this fictional drama. Specifically, students assume that they will always “be on the heels” of the sadistic killer, and can bring the killers to justice seemingly overnight. Simply put, this is a mere fallacy. Truthfully, forensic scientist work long hours and sometimes will not catch a killer until years later. Many times they find themselves working on “cold cases,” which unfortunately don't always come to the happy ending that is most often seen on daytime TV.

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    Forensic Science Careers

    There are many great career opportunities for students who obtain their forensic science as a college major degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this career will see great opportunities in the near future, especially with the advancement of technology. Forensic Science majors can find careers such as:

    • Forensic Pathologist
    • Forensic DNA Specialist
    • Forensic Toxicologist
    • Crime Lab Directors

    Helpful Resource:

    If you'd like some additional information on job qualifications, career opportunities, college and university details, or to view useful videos, please visit:

    American Academy of Forensic Sciences

    P.O. Box 669

    Colorado Springs, CO 80901

    719-636-1100

    www.aafs.org

    Source:

    http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/1999/Fall/art01.pdf

    Image Credits:

    Blood in Glass – freedigitalphotos.net/Carlos Porto

    Evidence - freedigitalphotos.net/Simon Howden

    Magnifying Glass – freedigitalphotos.net/Simon Howden