The Education and Training Required to Become a Forensic Analyst
The education and training that is required to become a forensic analyst can be extensive depending upon the industry in which you want to work after you graduate from college. What’s more, there is a certain amount of on-the-job training that a forensic analyst must go through before he or she can perform the job duties successfully.
Recommended High School Courses
For some people, the desire to work as part of the criminal justice system starts as early as childhood. For this reason, there are plenty of high schools that offer up electives based on forensics and law. High school students who are interested in careers as forensic analysts should be sure to take courses in mathematics, anatomy, biology, and more in order to have a strong foundation for college. What’s more, if the student’s school offers a vocational program in criminal justice or even a semester-long elective in forensics, this is a great introduction to later college courses.
Forensic analysts are typically required to have a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, biology, or chemistry. Some candidates may choose to major in a natural science like biology and minor in one of many forensic science fields, such as computers or DNA analysis. In many smaller towns and counties, forensic analysts are promoted from within with most starting out as police officers. In this case, it may be possible to enter into forensic analysis with nothing more than a high school education, though FBI-approved crime labs will require candidates to seek a bachelor’s degree.
Because the methods, protocols, and software that is used by employers varies greatly, forensic analysts are required to undergo a period of on-the-job training before they are expected to take on independent cases. In most cases, new hires are called upon to shadow (watch) and assist experienced forensic analysts so that they can work under direct supervision. Forensic analysts who choose laboratory specialties, such as DNA analysis or blood spatters, will learn the skills they need to succeed on the job. Employers often require these individuals to keep up with the latest advances in technology by attending workshops and completing ongoing education, either in the classroom or online.
Licenses and Certifications
Although it is not necessary to obtain licensure or certification before entering the workforce as a forensic analyst, it can help candidates become strong competitors in the workforce. The number of forensic analyst positions that are available in the US are limited, and there is quite a bit of interest in the field due to the focus of popular media. There are several different licensing and certifying groups, and while some of these provide certificates for forensic analysts in general, others provide licensure or certification for specialties within the field including ballistics and others.
Though it takes a four-year college degree to become a forensic analyst in most cases, the salary and job security that you will enjoy can certainly make this education worth it. Certification in a specialized field can help you become even more valuable in the workforce, especially in this crowded industry.