Gathering the Clues with a Forensics Degree

Forensics involves investigating crimes by collecting and analyzing physical evidence left at the scene. It is the application of science to help solve criminal cases. This ranges from DNA analysis to performing tests on fiber, hair, tissue and body fluids to determine if they are significant to solving the case. An online degree in forensics or forensic science will help better prepare for a job in law enforcement. Typical specialties that can be gained from studying an online forensics degree include becoming a crime scene investigator (made popular by the TV show...C.S.I), forensics accountant as well as a forensics toxicologist.Students with a methodical approach will appreciate the course work which generally consists of evidence collection and accurate recording for court testimony. Specialized training in DNA identification and assessment will also be given.

Forensics Degree FAQs

Do I Need a Degree to Work in Forensics?

Nearly all forensic scientists need a bachelor's degree to get a job. Some occupations require a graduate degree in forensics, but most positions in law enforcement only need a four-year degree.

If you find a school that only has some forensics classes, as opposed to a formal forensics degree program, you can major in biology or chemistry as an alternative. There are some forensics positions that will hire candidates with two-year degrees and train them under direct supervision of more experienced technicians.

What Are the Requirements for Acceptance Into a Forensics Degree Program?

Any community college, technical school, university or online college will ask applicants for a high school diploma or equivalency degree. Many two-year schools offer forensics degree programs, especially at technical schools that focus on science-based subjects.

There are some universities and colleges with forensics degree programs, but you may have to major in biology, chemistry or criminology, or take classes in these subjects. If you have questions about admissions, contact the school's admissions department.

What Topics Are Covered in Forensics Degree Programs?

Forensics is about gathering data and analyzing it to determine if there is any link to a crime. Much of the study revolves around biology and chemistry, as well as human anatomy and how the body interacts or reacts to certain substances and situations. Students also learn about criminology and law enforcement in addition to taking classes in psychology, sociology, statistics, anthropology and mathematics.

What Kind of Careers Are Available in Forensics?

Careers in forensic science depend on what interests you most. As you study the curriculum, you will be better able to pinpoint a more specific job title.

Although forensics has to do with the justice system, you could have a career as a crime laboratory analyst, a crime scene examiner, a medical examiner, a forensic engineer or technical assistant. Each of these jobs requires a general background in forensics. However, they vary in relation to the classes you take and the amount of college you need to complete. For example, a medical examiner often requires a medical degree, or a four-year degree in biology or chemistry and a residency with a forensic emphasis.

What Is Required of Someone Who Works in Forensics?

Forensic science students should be comfortable working in demanding, time sensitive situations and with all kinds of gruesome materials, as much of the work comes from crime scenes. You should have a thorough understanding of biology and chemistry, as well as the ability to communicate effectively with peers and cooperate well when working in teams.

What Salary Range Can I Expect From a Career in Forensics?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor estimates that the median salary for forensic science technicians is over $20 per hour, or about $40,000 per year. Some forensics jobs pay more depending on the government agency or local law enforcement department, while other jobs related to forensics, such as medical examiner, pay more.

Related Sections

More Schools and Programs