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what is forensic science?

What Is Forensic Science | Careers & Opportunities

The term forensic science stands for the application of the scientific method to criminal investigations. Forensic investigators use a variety of methods and disciplines, such as biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, in order to solve crimes. These professionals typically work with criminal investigators, police officers, attorneys, and medical examiners to help identify suspects. Forensic science programs are used in research related to crime scene investigation and the apprehension of criminals. A forensic scientist is someone who applies science to law. Forensic scientists can specialize in many areas, including biology, chemistry, physics, and medicine.

They use science to find out what happened or to find out if someone is guilty or innocent. A forensic scientist usually needs a bachelor’s degree in one of the sciences listed above and then completes an internship before applying for these jobs. Forensic science is the scientific field that deals with proving guilt in criminal cases through physical evidence. The work of forensic scientists includes collecting and analyzing blood, hair, digital evidence, fibers, glass or soil samples; determining whether or not any DNA was left behind on an object; matching bullets to guns fired during crimes; and performing autopsies to determine if death was caused by homicide or accident. Forensic scientists are also called crime scene investigators because they often investigate scenes of crimes before the police arrive.

What Is Forensic Science?

what is forensic science?

What does it mean when someone says “forensic scientist”? How do you become a forensics expert? These questions can be answered by reading this article about what exactly forensic science and forensic methods are all about. It will explain how forensic science works, who uses it, why people use it, and more! This article explains everything that one needs to know in order to understand what forensic science really means. If you want to learn more about what forensic science actually entails, then read on for answers to these questions.

What Exactly Is Forensic Science?

what is forensic science?

It’s a broad term for all kinds of sciences used to prove facts about people who have died or been injured. These include:

Forensic science technician use the application of sciences and medical knowledge to diagnose causes of death. They may be scientific disciplines like doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, veterinarians, etc with advanced degrees. The job title varies from state to state but in most states, it includes determining the cause of death based on autopsy findings. In some cases, medical examiners can perform postmortem examinations without having performed any prior examination. This is called an “autopsy by proxy”.

A medical examiner also determines whether there was foul play involved and if so what kind. For example, they might determine that someone committed suicide because he had a gun with him when he shot himself. Medical examiners are often consulted for legal purposes such as the determination of criminal responsibility or civil liability. They may be asked to testify about their opinions regarding the causation of deaths due to disease or injury. The term “medical examiner” has been used interchangeably with a coroner, forensic pathologist, forensic anthropologist, digital forensics, and other terms. In some jurisdictions, coroners have jurisdiction over death investigations while in others it is solely reserved for medical examiners.

A medical examiner’s office usually consists of one or more physicians who perform autopsies on persons killed by violent means, determine the cause of death, and prepare reports which can then be presented at trial. Medical examiners are often called upon to give expert testimony as part of a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding an unnatural death.

The term “medical examiner” may also refer to any physician performing such duties. Some states require that all deaths occurring within their borders must be investigated by a state-licensed medical examiner; however, this requirement does not apply to those cases where there has been no suspicion of foul play. In some jurisdictions, coroners or other officials perform these functions in addition to being responsible for investigating natural causes of death. Medical examiners are often consulted when determining whether a person died from suicide, homicide, accident, disease, or undetermined cause. The term “coroner”, although used interchangeably with the word “medical examiner,” is technically incorrect as it refers only to an official who investigates unnatural deaths and usually performs autopsies on bodies found dead under suspicious circumstances.

Is Forensic Science Anything Like What We See On TV?

what is forensic science?

In most cases, no. Forensic scientists do not use X-rays, CAT scans, MRIs, DNA testing, blood typing, fingerprinting, hair analysis, bite marks, etc., but they may be involved in such procedures if requested by a law enforcement agency. They are also called upon by law enforcement officials to determine whether a person has been murdered, how long he/she had been dead before being discovered, where the body was located, the crime scene evidence, and other similar questions that arise during investigations of death. The field is sometimes referred to as “forensic pathology” or “medical forensics”. A forensic scientist’s job can vary from one case to another depending on the type of crime committed.

For example, an autopsy might reveal evidence about the cause of death; while a rape investigation could involve collecting samples for DNA profiling and other biological fluids and evidence from crime scenes. Forensic scientists may be asked to examine physical and scientific evidence such as fingerprints, hair fibers, blood stains, bite marks, bullet fragments, clothing, etc., in order to identify suspects, witnesses, victims, or perpetrators. They also analyze biological materials like semen and saliva found at scenes of sexual assault, murder, suicide, child abuse, arson, bombings, natural disasters, accidents, terrorism, war crimes, and other violent events. In addition, forensic scientists are often called upon to determine if there is any link between two seemingly unrelated cases that have occurred within close proximity in time and/or space. Forensic science has become an important tool for law enforcement agencies around the world because it can be used to solve a wide variety of criminal investigations.

What Are 3 Types of Forensic Evidence?

what is forensic science?

What do they look like? How does one collect them? And how long will they last? These questions are simple but they actually require some knowledge about forensics as well as basic chemistry. The three main categories of forensic evidence include biological samples, trace evidence, and physical evidence. Biological samples consist of blood or tissue from humans or animals. Trace evidence includes items such as fingerprints, hair fibers, soil particles, glass fragments, paint chips, etc. Physical evidence consists of objects found at crime scenes including weapons, clothing, vehicles, tools, etc.

Biological Evidence:

Blood is the most general type of biological sample collected for DNA evidence. It can be obtained by swabbing a wound on an individual’s body, collecting saliva through oral sampling, or extracting it directly from the skin using cotton balls or other devices. The amount and quality of DNA in each sample varies depending upon how long ago the injury occurred, whether there was bleeding, what kind of injuries were sustained, and many other factors. In addition to providing information about the person who committed the offense, blood may also provide clues that help investigators identify suspects.

Blood samples are often used as evidence at trial because they contain unique genetic markers that can be matched with those found in crime scene samples. This is particularly useful when a suspect has been injured during an assault but has not yet been taken into custody by police. The presence or absence of certain types of genetic material in blood samples can indicate if someone else’s blood was present on the victim’s body after the attack took place.

If this happens, it could point toward another possible perpetrator. In addition, DNA from saliva and other bodily fluids left behind at a crime scene can reveal details about how the attacker behaved before he attacked his target. For example, if semen is detected on a rape kit sample, investigators might find out whether the rapist ejaculated inside the victim or outside her vagina. This information would help them determine what type of sexual assault occurred. It also may provide clues to the identity of the assailant. The presence of spermatozoa in vaginal secretions indicates that intercourse has taken place; however, there are many reasons why sperm cells may be found in these samples. If no sperm cells are present, it could mean that the attack was nonconsensual and possibly forced. In addition, some women have an allergic reaction to seminal fluid. Therefore, when examining such evidence, it’s important for examiners to know how much time elapsed between the alleged incident and the collection of the specimen. Also, if a woman is menstruating or using tampons at the time she reports being assaulted, this can affect whether any semen will be detected.

Trace Evidence: 

This type of physical evidence includes hair, fibers, skin fragments, bloodstains, bite marks, fingerprints, shoe prints, tire tracks, footprints, glass shards, cigarette butts, and other items left behind by someone who committed a crime. Trace evidence may provide information about where an individual was located during the commission of a crime; however, trace evidence does not always lead directly back to the suspect. For example, in some cases, DNA testing has been used to identify suspects based on their genetic profiles. In these instances, it is possible that there are multiple people with similar profiles at the scene of the crime. The presence or absence of certain types of trace evidence can also help determine if two individuals were involved in a sexual assault. If semen is found inside a victim’s body after a rape, for instance, this could indicate whether more than one person had sex with her. Trace evidence may be collected from any number of places and sources: clothing, bedding, sheets, towels, shoes, hairbrushes, toothbrushes, etc. It should not be assumed that all traces will necessarily belong to an individual who was present during the incident; however, they do provide important information about what happened. The following are examples of how forensic science has been used to identify perpetrators of crimes against children.

Physical Evidence:

DNA testing is often performed on trace evidence in order to determine if it belongs to someone other than the suspect or victim. This can help establish a chain of custody when there is no physical evidence left at the scene. DNA analysis also helps police officers and prosecutors make decisions regarding whether or not to charge suspects with certain offenses. For example, if a child’s body is found buried under a house, then DNA from the perpetrator could potentially be recovered from soil samples taken from around the area where the crime occurred. If this occurs, then the results would indicate that the person who committed the murder was likely living near the location where the body was discovered. In addition, DNA testing may reveal information about the suspect’s family members as well as other people in his/her life. This can help investigators determine what kind of relationship existed between the victim and the suspect.

It can also provide insight into how the suspect obtained access to the home where the murder took place. Finally, it is possible for a forensic scientist to use DNA analysis to identify an unknown individual whose genetic profile has been compared with known profiles stored within CODIS or GEDmatch databases. The FBI maintains these two public-access databases that contain millions of records from convicted offenders who have provided their DNA samples to law enforcement agencies across the country. These databases are searchable by name, sex, race/ethnicity, age at arrest, state of conviction, county of conviction, date of birth, offense type, crime category, and other factors.

In addition, there are also several private commercial genealogy websites where individuals can upload their own family trees in order to find matches among relatives. For example, Ancestry.com has over 2 million users worldwide with more than 100 million people having uploaded a total of 1 billion data points into its database. The company claims that it is “the largest consumer-based genetic genealogy service” and offers free searches for anyone looking to connect with distant cousins or learn about their ancestral origins. Other companies such as MyHeritage have similar services available at no cost. However, these sites do not provide the same level of privacy protection as those offered by GEDmatch because they allow third parties access to your information.

How Is Forensic Evidence Used In Court?

Forensic DNA testing has been widely accepted since the 1990s when the FBI began using it to identify criminals. In recent years, courts across the country are increasingly relying on forensic investigation to help solve crimes. The National Institute for Justice reports that more than half of all criminal cases involve some form of genetic material and that over a quarter of them use DNA analysis.

This includes paternity tests, which can be ordered through any state-licensed lab. Other types of forensics include hair or fiber comparisons, bite mark analyses, gunshot residue examinations, blood spatter patterns, shoe prints, tire tracks, fingerprints, handwriting samples, and even body fluids like semen and saliva. In addition, forensic scientists have been able to identify people based on their unique facial features such as eye color, skin tone, nose shape, ear size, and lip thickness. Forensic science is also used in criminal investigations for the purpose of identifying suspects, locating evidence at crime scenes, determining if an individual has committed a specific type of offense, and linking crimes together.


What Jobs Are In Forensic Science?

forensic jobs

There are many different types of careers in the forensic science field that fall under this umbrella term including:

1. Crime Scene Investigator:

A crime scene investigator works with law enforcement officers and agency to collect physical evidence from a crime scene. They may be called upon to identify fingerprints or other trace evidence left behind by criminals. In some cases, they will work directly with police officers on patrol during their investigation into a particular case. Other times they might assist detectives who have already been assigned to investigate a certain incident. Some investigators also perform the role of an expert witness, testifying at trial about what was found and how it can help solve crimes.

This is especially true for those working as fingerprint examiners. Fingerprint experts are often asked to testify in courtrooms across America regarding whether someone’s prints were present at a specific location where a crime occurred. They may be called upon by law enforcement agencies or private citizens to determine if fingerprints belong to suspects or victims. In addition, they may be requested to compare two sets of fingerprints from different people to see if one set matches another. These types of cases require the use of scientific methods that have been developed over time through research and testing.

2. Fingerprint Analyst:

A fingerprint examiner is an individual who has completed training as a forensic scientist and passed certification tests administered by the American Board of Criminalistics. The FBI requires all applicants for employment as a criminalist to pass these exams before being hired. Fingerprint examiners are trained in various aspects of crime scene investigation including collection, preservation, analysis, comparison, documentation, interpretation, and presentation of evidence. They also learn how to interpret latent prints found at scenes where no suspect was present. In addition, they must be able to recognize and identify fingerprints from different sources such as glass, metal, plastic, paper, wood, leather, fabric, etc., and determine if those prints belong to known or unknown individuals. Finally, fingerprint examiners need to know the proper procedures for handling and preserving evidence so that it can later be analyzed by other experts.

3. Evidence Technician:

This is a position in which an individual collects, preserves, analyzes, compares, documents, interprets, and presents physical evidence. The job duties include collecting, packaging, labeling, storing, transporting, documenting, analyzing, comparing, interpreting, presenting, and maintaining evidence. Evidence technicians may also work with crime scene investigators and forensic scientists as well as law enforcement agencies. They are often called upon to testify at trial regarding their findings.

4. Forensic Specialist:

This is the most common title for someone who works in forensics. Forensic specialists usually have some sort of degree or certification that allows them to perform specific tasks related to criminal investigations. Some examples of this type of job would be a fingerprint examiner, blood spatter analyst, latent print examiner, DNA expert, etc. These people can sometimes be found working directly under police officers but they do not necessarily need to report to an officer on duty. Many times these jobs require specialized training which makes it difficult for anyone without such training to get hired. The pay is generally good and the work environment is often very interesting.

5. Forensic Engineer:

Forensic engineers are employed by law enforcement agencies in order to assist with crime scene investigation. They may also provide technical assistance to other forensic scientists who conduct their own tests at the site of a crime. Their duties include collecting, preserving, analyzing, interpreting, reporting, and presenting evidence obtained from a crime or accident scene. Some forensic engineers have received additional education beyond that required for entry-level positions as criminologists, chemists, biologists, etc., while others receive only basic training. Forensic engineering is an emerging field within criminal justice; however, it has been around since ancient times when archaeologists used tools such as metal detectors to find buried treasure.

6. Forensics Manager:

A forensics manager oversees all aspects of a laboratory’s operations including personnel management, budgeting, purchasing, facilities maintenance, laboratory setting, quality control, safety procedures, security measures, record keeping, and other administrative functions. The position may be part time or full time depending on the size of the lab. In some cases, forensic managers are also responsible for supervising technicians in their respective fields. Some labs have separate positions called “forensic supervisors” who oversee one or more laboratories. Forensic managers typically work closely with law enforcement agencies as well as prosecutors’ offices. They often provide testimony at trials to help determine whether a crime was committed by someone else.

Is Forensic Science A Good Career?

It depends upon your interests and skills. If you enjoy working with others, then this is an excellent field to enter into because it involves helping others solve crimes. You will learn how to analyze evidence such as fingerprints, hair samples, bloodstains, bite marks, DNA, etc. This can be very rewarding if done correctly. However, there are many other careers that involve the same type of analysis but do not require a degree in forensics. For example, police officers may have to collect physical evidence from scenes where they investigate crimes.

They also must make decisions about what kind of tests should be performed on these items. In addition, some jobs for which one does not need a degree in forensics include crime scene investigators, medical examiners, toxicologists, criminalists, and lab technicians. These people often work with law enforcement agencies or hospitals. Some forensic scientists specialize in certain areas such as fingerprinting, firearms identification, drug testing, arson investigation, trace evidence, and so forth. Forensic science is an important part of the legal system because it helps determine whether someone committed a crime. It also helps to identify who was responsible for committing that crime.

Do Forensic Scientists Get Paid Well?

The median wages for forensic scientists is $58,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, some forensic scientists can earn more than this amount depending on their experience level and where they live. For example, forensic scientists with less than five years’ experience may make about $50,000 per year while those with 20 or more years of experience could be earning over $100,000 annually.


In conclusion, the field of forensic science is a fascinating and exciting branch of science, especially with the prevalence of new technologies. Maybe one day we can see a real-life CSI or Sherlock Holmes solving crimes and catching criminals.

If you want to be a part of this research, consider studying at an accredited university and contact organizations like the American Board of Forensic Examiners for more information.

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