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Forensic Scientists

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The majority of a forensic scientist’s work is laboratory-based; they examine traces of substances such as blood, hairs, textile fibres, paint, glass, explosives and drugs in an attempt to associate or disassociate suspects with victims or crime scenes. Other responsibilities and areas of forensics can include:

  • searching for and collecting evidence at the scenes of crimes

  • compiling written reports

  • gathering evidence

  • verifying the authenticity of documents

  • testing fluid and tissue samples for the use of drugs or poisons

  • analysing tool and tyre marks

  • giving and defending evidence in court

  • recovering data from electronic equipment such as laptops, computers and mobile phones

  • using appropriate analytical techniques such as chromatography, electron microscopy and DNA profiling

The work can require attending unpleasant and disturbing crime scenes in all weathers.

 

Qualifications and training required

 

To become a forensic scientist, a degree in forensic science or another science subject is necessary. Postgraduate study in forensic science is often required, especially after studying a general science subject at undergraduate level.

Relevant experience can be difficult to acquire as forensic laboratories do not offer placements, so experience gained using similar scientific and analytical techniques can be useful.

 

Key skills for forensic scientists

 

  • Logical and independent mind

  • Meticulous attention to detail

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills

  • Objectivity and sensitivity when dealing with confidential information

  • Ability to work under pressure and to a deadline

  • Concentration and patience

  • Ability to deal with stressful and emotional situations

  • Confidence in your own judgement

 

Typical employers of forensic scientists

 

Forensic scientists are employed by specialist private consultancies, police forces , universities and government departments including the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory

 

 



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