This past summer, the Career Center hosted a seminar on Careers in Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigation. There were two guest speakers. The first representative was Claire Shepard with LA Delta Community College, and the second was Zachary Shawn with the Louisiana State police. For those who missed it, here are the main takeaways:
what is it really like?
Most people think of the TV show “CSI” when they think of the field of forensics – but the show is not entirely realistic. In the real world, it may take months if not years to solve a case. Nevertheless, it is still an interesting field for anyone who is interested in taking a more scientific approach to Criminal Justice. There are a plethora of jobs in this field, both in the lab and out in the field. The pay in most of these careers usually range from $39,000 to around $60,000. The more advanced fields that require a doctorate degree can pay much more.
- DNA forensic analyst: compare DNA samples taken from suspects and victims to determine whether someone was at a crime scene. Requires a degree in chemistry or biology.
- Toxicologist: help investigators identify the causes of death that include poisons or chemicals. Also assist in the prosecution of DUI and DWI arrests and can detect the presence of drugs or alcohol in a suspect or victim’s blood. Requires a degree in chemistry, biology, or both.
- Forensic pathologist: Also known as a medical examiner. Conduct autopsies to determine whether a case was homicide, learn the type of weapons used, and approximate a time of death. This is a position for licensed doctors and thus requires an MD.
- Bloodstain Pattern Analyst: analyze patterns of blood at the scene of a crime. This can help determine the type of weapon used, whether a struggle occurred, the direction of travel of a victim or suspect, etc.. Requires a bachelor’s degree in natural science or biology.
- Forensic Ballistics Expert: analyze firearm patterns and residue at a crime scene. This can help with tracing a bullet back to a gun, identifying the type of firearm used, etc..
- Arson Investigators: Use residue, ash, and other substances left after a fire to discover if a fire was intentional arson or the result of an accident. The education required for a career as an arson investigator is on par with that of police officers. While a bachelor’s degree is not required, a degree in a forensic-science-related field would increase your chances.
If you’d enjoy using your analytical and problem-solving skills to provide justice, then this is the field for you. You just have to be sure that you are not too sensitive to violent scenes or dealing with bodily fluids. More information can be found on the Delta Community College website.
Written by Alvin Coleman