Careers in Forensics

Searching for a career In forensics has become more and more popular since the slew of television programs such as C.I.S. that have hit our TV scenes and have rapidly achieved cult status. With this increase in similar programs, forensic jobs have not only achieved somewhat of a ‘glory’ status, often because of the way the job is glamorized, but the job itself has become much more fragmented as technology has improved.

Careers in forensics however, are rarely that glamorous. Forensic investigators demand high levels of skill and training, exceptional focused concentration, attention to detail and the ability to relay their findings in a clear and concise manner. You may also be required to work in some very unpleasant conditions and, depending on the field you enter, see some disturbing scenes. Science itself is rarely proven, and by its nature cyclical. Scientists must always attempt to disprove a hypothesis, not to prove it. In this way, you can be surer that your findings are likely to be found because they exist and are not just there by chance.

As mentioned, forensic jobs are much more varied than many people think and are now split into multiple areas of expertise. For example, on top of being a forensic investigator, there are forensic engineering, forensic accountants, cyber forensics, computer forensics, forensic psychology, forensic nursing and several more. So you see, careers in forensics are likely to span many areas, and deciding which direction to take is a hard one.

Forensic training typical involves an initial degree in forensics as this will give you a base from which to make your choice. Before you get that far though, you will need to qualify for the college of your choice and this will typically require a good science and mathematical background as well as sound language skills. Some form of relevant work experience will also be an asset, especially when you come to applying for jobs. You will find more information about various training for specific roles on this website, but it is highly likely you will need a solid grounding in the history and core techniques of forensics whatever path you decide to take.

A visit to The American Academy of Forensic Sciences website may prove useful, as will looking through forensic journals such as the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Reading current journals will give you some ideas about the range of possible careers in forensics, current issues and techniques that are at the forefront of forensics today. You may not be able to read the entire articles, but you should be able to view abstracts without having to pay. You can do this by visiting OvidSp at http://ovidsp.tx.ovid.com.

We hope you enjoy looking around this site and that it will give you an idea of the sort of careers in forensics that are possible. Remember to return here often, as you will find more articles added on a regular basis.

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Why Forensic Psychology is so Different rfom Therapeutic Psychology

Forensic psychology is a discipline which combines elements of traditional psychology with the forensic evidence needed in a courtroom. It is obviously necessary to have formal psychological training before you can practice in this way, but there are significant differences between the psychology practiced in a treatment room and that practiced in court. The main difference is one of intent, as ordinary psychological practice involves the patient and the practitioner being in harmony, and both working toward the same goal. In a court situation, the objectives will not be the same, and the objective of the psychologist may be totally the opposite of that of the subject.

The forensic psychologist has to operate by ignoring the primary objective of the clinical psychologist, which is to empathize with the patient and make them feel safe and relaxed. While relaxing the subject may be desirable to the clinical psychologist, it is an objective which can rarely be achieved, simply due to the circumstances. The subject will inevitably be nervous trying to cope with the ordeal, whether they are guilty or not. Certainly, anyone who is not guilty is going to be extremely frightened.

One of the most common uses for a forensic psychologist in court is to determine the sanity of someone standing trial. This is absolutely necessary, as it determines right at the outset whether or not the defendant is capable of standing trial and being sentenced in the usual way. There have been many instances of someone perfectly sane trying to convince a forensic psychologist that they were in fact insane. These attempts rarely if ever succeed, and they can result in a harsher sentence being passed.

Even when the clinical psychologist determines that a person is sane, they may still make a recommendation that sentence be reduced due to circumstances. Examples are when someone has gone trough extreme trauma leaving their behavior severely affected, even though they are basically sane. A psychologist would obviously need to be entirely convinced that this was genuine, and that no attempt was being made to fake the condition. Clinical psychologists are working under exceptional pressure at times during their working life.

A study of forensic psychology, for the purposes of practicing in a court situation, is not an easy task to undertake. Firstly, you will need every bit as great an understanding of psychology as someone who works in therapeutic practice, and then you will need to learn the extra dimension of dealing with a subject who has a vested interest very different from yours. This will entail learning whole new systems of questioning, and methods of observation. When you have completed your studies, you will need to spend some time under the tutelage of a recognized expert in forensic psychology.

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How Forensic Engineering Has Evolved Through The Years

Forensic engineering is a discipline of court investigation which affects any structure which does not do its intended job, resulting in unforeseen consequences to innocent individuals. This discipline as long been a part of court cases and inquiries where accidents have happened due to faulty engineering. Throughout the time of the Industrial Revolution, there were many cases of engineering failure, as new structures were built which were more complex than anything which had yet been designed. These accidents could be responsible for huge chaos and massive loss of life.

One of the most common cases of failure was that of railroad bridges. The railroad was one of the major driving forces behind the Industrial Revolution, and more railroad lines and more bridges were constantly being built. Bridges were necessary to take the railroad over rivers, uneven contours, and other natural features which could not be traversed any other way. The failure of such a bridge demanded a public inquiry, and the feature of that inquiry had to be the report from the forensic engineer. The exact cause of the failure had to be determined so that it could be learned from.

In the modern era, there are a great many accidents involving road vehicles. Sometimes, the cause is obvious, and will not even be contested by anyone involved in the accident. At other times, though, it will be hard for those present to determine the exact cause of the accident. It can be obvious which vehicle went out of control, but not why. A forensic analysis can help to determine exactly why the vehicle lost control. A driver could be accused of making a fatal error, when in reality they had done absolutely nothing wrong, and the failure had been purely mechanical.

Another phenomenon which has grown in the modern era is that of the personal injury lawsuit. The result of such a case will often be determined by the degree to which the person or company being sued was negligent in allowing the accident to happen. Proving that a mechanical fault occurred which no-one could possibly have foreseen or countered can make the difference between losing a business and being able to continue virtually unscathed.

Training for a career in forensic engineering is an extremely involved process, and should only really be undertaken by someone who has the right engineering background. If you don’t have this, look on breaking into forensics as the end goal in a long term process. The first step will to be to develop the kind of engineering knowledge and background which will make this type of career a possibility. Once you have the knowledge of engineering, you can then begin the specialist study of forensic engineering.

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What You Will Need To Learn In Forensics School

Forensics school training needs to be more advanced than ever before, due to the increasing complexity of the science and all of its branches. What started out over a hundred years ago as a simple analysis of material found at crime scenes, has now become far more involved. A general study of forensics will need to be more comprehensive than ever before, as technology has introduced new disciplines. Forensics is not just a study of human fingerprints and other accidental deposits, it encompasses all aspects of objects used by human beings, and even some which are not.

The most significant development in forensics during the twentieth century was the widespread use of fingerprinting, and if you are intending to work in police forensics this will form a major part of your studies. Fingerprinting has been used to place a criminal at the crime scene in countless cases, including many routine burglaries. Catching advanced criminals using this technique is rare as they are careful to avoid leaving this evidence behind, but many a routine villain has been caught this way.

The teaching of forensics in forensics science schools will start with what might be referred to as routine work, with fingerprinting and the placing of vehicles at crime scenes. The science of assessing tire marks and matching them to makes of vehicles, and even individual vehicles themselves, is now a major part of criminal forensics, as there are so many crimes carried out using vehicles for a quick getaway. Knowing how to carry out this routine work is absolutely necessary for you to gain a job in police forensics.

It is also possible to work in one of many specialist areas which make up the overall science of forensics, especially if you are going to work in a major city police department. There are now new high technology developments within forensics, such as digital forensics which deals with computers and digital storage systems. It is possible to extract data from a hard drive even though it has apparently been erased, and this can produce useful evidence. A similar technique can be used to recover data from erased lists in cell phones.

The best way of approaching forensics school is to take a general course which will teach you as much as possible about forensics as a whole, and about the routine aspects of police forensics work. From there, you can progress to whichever specialist discipline gives you the most interest. The more knowledge you have, and the wider your qualifications, the more likely you are to be able to take advantage of the right opportunity when it comes. Forensic colleges can offer a wide range of specialist courses to help you advance from basic forensics school.

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Why Forensics Investigator Roles Have Become More Varied

image1Forensics investigator positions involve more varied work than ever before, thanks to the advances in technology which have greatly increased the capabilities of the science. What started as a relatively limited way of analyzing the conditions of a crime scene for evidence has now become a multi-faceted discipline covering far more than just crime scene evaluation. Techniques of analysis involving DNA and other residue from the human body have increased the accuracy with which crime scenes can be evaluated, and the new developments in information technology have added a completely new dimension to what investigators can recover.

Most of the routine investigative work of a police forensics operative still deals with the crime scene, and the possible evidence left by the perpetrator at that scene. Fingerprinting is now a long established way of establishing who was at a certain scene, and although criminals often avoid leaving any prints, there are still many incidents where they do. It is also possible in many cases to examine the ground around a crime scene, and analyze foot markings and vehicle tracks to gather further evidence.

The newest type of investigative role in police forensics is that which deals with computer systems. It is commonly believed that once data is sent to the Recycle Bin and then emptied out, that it is deleted from the computer hard drive. This is not actually true, as the data remains in place on the drive until it is overwritten by fresh data which needs the space. This means that an investigator with knowledge of how to access computer memory directly can sometimes recover vital evidence from seized computer systems.

Working as an investigator is obviously a specialist role in which you need formal qualifications. Making a mistake in forensic analysis could result in a criminal case being lost, and further innocent victims suffering due to criminals remaining free. Even when you are fully qualified, you will need to work together with someone with far more experience until you have a proven track record of being able to notice and evaluate all of the available evidence. Experienced investigators are relatively rare, and then therefore command far higher rates of pay.

To qualify for these advanced forensics investigator positions in the first place, you will need to train for the right qualification. Even if you have a specific forensic role in mind, you will benefit from a thorough grounding in all aspects of forensic science. You will be able to spot evidence which may be useful to colleagues, even if it outside of your specialty area. Courses in forensics are offered through police training programs, and much of the learning can take place at home, while you are still earning from your present career. When you are qualified, you can apply for an entry level place as a forensics investigator.

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Why Forensic Psychology Is So Very Different From Therapeutic Psychology

Forensic psychology is a discipline which combines elements of traditional psychology with the forensic evidence needed in a courtroom. It is obviously necessary to have formal psychological training before you can practice in this way, but there are significant differences between the psychology practiced in a treatment room and that practiced in court. The main difference is one of intent, as ordinary psychological practice involves the patient and the practitioner being in harmony, and both working toward the same goal. In a court situation, the objectives will not be the same, and the objective of the psychologist may be totally the opposite of that of the subject.

The forensic psychologist has to operate by ignoring the primary objective of the clinical psychologist, which is to empathize with the patient and make them feel safe and relaxed. While relaxing the subject may be desirable to the clinical psychologist, it is an objective which can rarely be achieved, simply due to the circumstances. The subject will inevitably be nervous trying to cope with the ordeal, whether they are guilty or not. Certainly, anyone who is not guilty is going to be extremely frightened.

One of the most common uses for a forensic psychologist in court is to determine the sanity of someone standing trial. This is absolutely necessary, as it determines right at the outset whether or not the defendant is capable of standing trial and being sentenced in the usual way. There have been many instances of someone perfectly sane trying to convince a forensic psychologist that they were in fact insane. These attempts rarely if ever succeed, and they can result in a harsher sentence being passed.

Even when the clinical psychologist determines that a person is sane, they may still make a recommendation that sentence be reduced due to circumstances. Examples are when someone has gone trough extreme trauma leaving their behavior severely affected, even though they are basically sane. A psychologist would obviously need to be entirely convinced that this was genuine, and that no attempt was being made to fake the condition. Clinical psychologists are working under exceptional pressure at times during their working life.

A study of forensic psychology, for the purposes of practicing in a court situation, is not an easy task to undertake. Firstly, you will need every bit as great an understanding of psychology as someone who works in therapeutic practice, and then you will need to learn the extra dimension of dealing with a subject who has a vested interest very different from yours. This will entail learning whole new systems of questioning, and methods of observation. When you have completed your studies, you will need to spend some time under the tutelage of a recognized expert in forensic psychology.

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How On The Job Forensic Training Can Prepare You For A Police Career

policeoralboardForensic training can be a vital part of the preparation a police officer needs for their future career. The science of forensics has become increasingly advanced in recent years, due to advances in both the techniques of forensics, and the technology used in society as a whole. A police officer involved in forensic work needs to be versatile, because even if they decide to specialize in one specific part of the discipline, they will still need to be able to spot material which will be useful to other departments.

Most police forensic work still deals with the basics in the field, finding and gathering evidence at the crime scene. Fingerprinting has always been a major part of police forensics, ever since the technique was first used. While many criminals are careful not to leave prints at a crime scene, it is surprising how often this vital evidence is still left behind. Other bodily evidence can be found at crime scenes, such as hair and saliva, and this can now be conclusively identified.

It is likely that these types of forensic evidence will form the focal point of your police training, and even if they do not they are still a necessary part of your knowledge. There are other, completely different, forensic disciplines, which involve new technology. Computers are often used by criminals, and they can give up the secrets of deleted files to anyone with the training to know how to access the data. This aspect of the police training will also allow you to extract data from cell phones and other hand held devices.

Some other branches of forensics are even further away from that traditionally thought of, and this includes psychology. Being able to analyze a suspect or a court defendant, and tell whether they are sane enough to stand trial in the usual way is another vital skill, although it will obviously be practiced by someone working totally separately from the usual forensics team. In an era where police are measured purely on results, it is a vital part of forensic work.

The majority of forensic training is carried out within police establishments, as these have both the facilities and the trained tutors. A basic academic grounding in forensics is necessary before you join a forensics team and begin to work. Most of becoming a good forensics police officer is learned on the job, though, so as soon as you are ready you will go to work as part of a team. Be sure to watch the experienced forensic officers, as you will learn so much from them which will be useful to you throughout your career. Observation is the best form of forensic training.

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Why A Forensic Scientist Can Work In Many Different Disciplines

image2Forensic scientist roles have changed greatly, and become expanded, as the science has continued to evolve. In the early days of forensics, around a century ago, scientists were mainly concerned with the analysis of crime scenes. This was a development from several unrelated cases where crime scene evidence had led to a conviction, including one celebrated case where a bloody fingerprint could be matched to the prints of the murderer. Most forensics today still deals with crime scene evidence, but there have been other significant developments using new technology.

Forensic scientists are able to analyze crime scene evidence, and draw far reaching conclusions from it. Fingerprinting is only one example of how information left inadvertently is recorded and used. It remains one of the most useful techniques available to the forensic expert, because it offers a unique and totally definitive answer to the question of who used a certain object, or touched a certain door or wall. The prints left in soft earth by shoes can obviously be analyzed, but it is far harder to draw definite conclusions.

The fact that vehicles are so often used in crimes has added a new dimension to forensic science. Tire tracks can be analyzed to determine the make and model of a vehicle which has been driven from a road into a secluded soft earth area, although it is always possible for criminals to change the tires later. The depth of the markings, and their angle, can also be used to provide useful clues. Sometimes, the scientist is given more to work with, such as when rare oil from a motorcycle was deposited near a murder scene, allowing the murder to be identified.

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Why Forensic Nursing Demands A High Level Of Dedication And Skill

Forensic nursing is one of the least known aspects of forensics and crime detection, allied as it is to the medical profession as well. In fact, the medical side of being a forensic nurse is the most important side of the job, as it is always more important to save a life than to produce evidence for a court of law. In the vast majority of cases, it is possible for someone with the right training to do both. The training is the key essential here, as a forensic nurse will be operating in a highly pressured environment needing to make instant choices.

The environment in which forensic nurses have to work is usually the emergency room at a hospital. These nurses have to have the same degree of expert medical training that every other nurse in the room will have, as their primary duty is to save lives and to lessen the effect of injuries upon patients. The formal training needed to satisfy this type of nursing will have to be completed first, as without it there is no way of gaining admittance to an emergency ward.

Once you have completed the basic training to allow you to work as a nurse in emergency rooms, you will need to acquire the knowledge of forensics which you need to be able to spot anomalies with the condition of patients. This training will be thorough, and will take up a lot of your time. Now, you will be able to complete it while you are still working at your previous profession, possibly as a regular nurse as this is a common background for forensic nurses.

The most significant skill you will need as a forensic nurse is observation. The patients who come in to the emergency room will be in need of treatment, often urgent treatment, but if you act too hastily you could be removing evidence which could be used in a court of law. A typical example of this is a child whose parents have brought them to the hospital, along with a not too convincing story of how they were injured. With quick observation, you can spot injuries which tell a completely different story.

There are several specialist branches of forensic nursing, all of which demand incredibly high levels of dedication and skill. You can work as a specialist identifying dead bodies whose remains have been charred so badly they are unrecognizable by conventional means, or you can specialize in working with alleged victims of sexual assault, attempting to discern whether or not there is any truth in the allegations. Both of these roles demand a level of dedication, and an ability to withstand shock and pain which will be beyond many, but they are an integral part of forensic nursing.

 

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How Digital Forensics Accesses Data Which Has Apparently Been Deleted

Digital forensics is one of the most recent developments in the long developing science of forensics. The ability to examine evidence and draw conclusions has changed forever the way the legal system operates in the Western world. Whenever forensics is mentioned, people think of the human body and the evidence it leaves behind, usually in the form of fingerprints and other material which is deposited from the body. More recently, people have started to think of the DNA testing which is still controversial. There are, however, many other forms of forensics.

The ability to analyze a computer system and search for data is also a form of forensics, even though it may not initially seem to be a related discipline. This branch of the science is based upon the fact that data which appears to have been deleted from a system may not actually have been erased for good. Most digital systems only erase data finally when it is overwritten by new data which needs the memory room that the old data was using up. This means it can be accessed by those who know how to reach it.

The key to discovering lost data is to understand how files are deleted from a computer system. When you delete a file on a Windows computer, it goes to the Recycle Bin. From there, you can either empty the Bin, or use software which does this as part of a clean up of unwanted files. It will appear as though the file is lost and gone forever. This is simply an illusion, as the actual data will still be in exactly the same place. All that will have happened is that the indicators in the operating system which point to the file will have been changed and then deleted.

The bytes of data which were apparently deleted remain in memory until they are overwritten by new data. This could happen within minutes, as the user creates new files which need the space, or it could never happen. The data which is believed to be deleted could survive for years unknown to the user if no other data overwrites it. A digital forensics expert can quickly access all areas of memory to see if there is anything of significance still left on the hard drive.

This technique for finding deleted data is obviously hit and miss, as there is obviously no control over what is left and what is not. It can, however, turn up some extremely useful evidence. The same system can also be applied to other electronic devices which store information, especially cell phones. When you think of the data which is stored in the typical cell phone, you can imagine how useful it would be to have access to one belonging to a criminal. Even being diligent enough to constantly erase data may not be enough to defeat digital forensics.

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Why Forensics Investigator Roles Have Become More Varied

Forensics investigator positions involve more varied work than ever before, thanks to the advances in technology which have greatly increased the capabilities of the science. What started as a relatively limited way of analyzing the conditions of a crime scene for evidence has now become a multi-faceted discipline covering far more than just crime scene evaluation. Techniques of analysis involving DNA and other residue from the human body have increased the accuracy with which crime scenes can be evaluated, and the new developments in information technology have added a completely new dimension to what investigators can recover.

image17Most of the routine investigative work of a police forensics operative still deals with the crime scene, and the possible evidence left by the perpetrator at that scene. Fingerprinting is now a long established way of establishing who was at a certain scene, and although criminals often avoid leaving any prints, there are still many incidents where they do. It is also possible in many cases to examine the ground around a crime scene, and analyze foot markings and vehicle tracks to gather further evidence.

The newest type of investigative role in police forensics is that which deals with computer systems. It is commonly believed that once data is sent to the Recycle Bin and then emptied out, that it is deleted from the computer hard drive. This is not actually true, as the data remains in place on the drive until it is overwritten by fresh data which needs the space. This means that an investigator with knowledge of how to access computer memory directly can sometimes recover vital evidence from seized computer systems.

Working as an investigator is obviously a specialist role in which you need formal qualifications. Making a mistake in forensic analysis could result in a criminal case being lost, and further innocent victims suffering due to criminals remaining free. Even when you are fully qualified, you will need to work together with someone with far more experience until you have a proven track record of being able to notice and evaluate all of the available evidence. Experienced investigators are relatively rare, and then therefore command far higher rates of pay.

To qualify for these advanced forensics investigator positions in the first place, you will need to train for the right qualification. Even if you have a specific forensic role in mind, you will benefit from a thorough grounding in all aspects of forensic science. You will be able to spot evidence which may be useful to colleagues, even if it outside of your specialty area. Courses in forensics are offered through police training programs, and much of the learning can take place at home, while you are still earning from your present career. When you are qualified, you can apply for an entry level place as a forensics investigator.

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