Forensic Analyst Career Information
A forensic analyst, sometimes referred to as a forensic science technician, plays a vital role in ensuring that justice is served after a crime is committed. There are several subspecialties within this field from which you can choose, and each one is just as exciting and fulfilling as the next.
Job Requirements and Duties
In a nutshell, forensic analysts are required to analyze crime scenes. They determine what kind of evidence needs to be collected based upon their findings, take pictures of crime scenes, record the location of evidence, collect evidence without contaminating it, and preserve the evidence so that it can be handed over to crime labs. Some forensic analysts spend the majority of their time in laboratories to use chemical, biological, and physical analyses to process evidence. They work to link suspects and victims with criminal activity, reconstruct crime scenes, and consult with other specialists in order to get a bigger, clearer picture of what occurred during the crime.
The environment in which a forensic analyst works depends on the area in which he or she chooses to specialize. For example, crime scene investigators spend very little time behind a desk or in a laboratory because they are usually on the scenes where the actual crimes occurred. On the other hand, a DNA or computer analystís presence is not required at crime scenes and they spend most of their time in laboratories processing evidence. Because crimes are committed and discovered at all hours of the day and night, most forensic analysts are expected to work long and unusual hours.
In almost every single forensic analyst specialty, a bachelorís degree in a field such as chemistry, biology, forensics, or natural sciences. Courses like math, physics, biology and chemistry are very important. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences provides a list of schools offering forensics degrees. These days, due to the amount of competition for available forensic analyst positions, many candidates are entering the field with a bachelorís degree in a natural science and a masterís degree in an area of forensics. This improves the candidatesí overall marketability.
Salary and Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that forensic analysts earned an average of $56,320 per year as of May 2015. Those in the top 10% earned more than $92,290, and these individuals were those who had several yearsí experience and who worked in very large metropolitan areas with high crime rates. The lowest 10% earned less than $36,410, and these were individuals who were at the entry level or who worked for very small towns where crime rates are very low. Employment is expected to rise 27% between the years of 2014 and 2024, and competition for available positions will be strong because of the interest generated by popular media such as movies and television.
There is no denying that a career as a forensic analyst can be incredibly exciting, and this is particularly true for those who have a passion for science and justice. However, in order to be successful in this career, it is important to earn the right type of degree and to work in a large city or metro area where your talents can be put to good use.