Forensic Scientists

Last updated January 01, 2015

Forensic science is more complex than TV might lead you to believe. In 1991, a postal worker in Phoenix, Arizona was accused of murdering a waitress. At the trial, a forensic scientist testified that a bite mark on the victim matched the suspect's teeth. The postal worker was convicted and sentenced to death.

Years later, other forensic scientists conducted DNA testing of saliva found on the victim's clothing. The testing revealed that the postal worker was innocent and identified the true murderer. Forensic science helped condemn an innocent man -- and then it redeemed him. It is a field constantly growing and changing.

Forensic scientists, sometimes called crime laboratory analysts, provide scientific information and expert opinions to judges, juries, and lawyers.

Did You Know?

Forensic scientists specialize in a particular area such as criminalistics (which includes DNA testing), engineering, or speech.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Keep precise records
  • Serve as an expert witness in court
  • Attend graduate school to qualify for many specialties
  • Keep up with the latest advances in your area

It Helps To Be...

Someone who loves science and wants to fight for justice. You'll need determination to discover the truth -- no matter whom it hurts or helps. You'll be happiest in this career if you're good with details and like projects requiring a careful, step-by-step approach.

Make High School Count

  • Make the most of your math and science courses.
  • Develop your public speaking skills by joining the debate team or the drama club. You’ll need them in the courtroom.
  • Practice taking organized notes during class lectures.
  • Scan newspapers to learn about legal cases requiring input from forensic scientists.
  • Do your best on English papers and lab reports in science. You’ll need strong writing skills to draft reports throughout your career.
  • Read science magazines to stay on top of new discoveries.
  • Visit the website of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences to learn more.

Did You Know?

Most forensic scientists work in laboratories. Some visit crime scenes. Others work in morgues, hospitals, police departments, or universities.