Forensic scientists are the ones who come into a crime scene looking for evidence. These days that’s much more than dusting for fingerprints – it’s sweeping for DNA, testing blood samples, super-techie examinations of skeletons. While it’s probably not quite as intense as the television shows portray it, forensic scientists are, more and more, the ones who are solving real life mysteries.
These are the people who couldn’t wait for lab day in high school chemistry. They love applying science principles. They also may be the type who like to figure out who-dunnits.
In addition to mad science (not to be confused with mad scientist) skills, you’ll need to be good at writing – what good is it to solve the crime if you can’t document your work and get credit for it? While probably very few of them are superheroes, forensic scientists tend to have almost Spidey senses when it comes to picking out details. After all, it’s the little things (literally microscopic) that will solve the crime.
If the idea of handling blood, urine or who-knows-what-that-fluid-is type things, pick one of the cleaner sciences. Or, if you only want to do it because you think it will be just like television – you might want to take a reality pill before completely committing yourself to this major.
In addition to all the exciting chemistry (if you’re into that), you’ll learn the legal side of things. You’ll learn things like court procedure, criminal procedure, constitutional law, etc. Since the collection of evidence has to be done a certain way to be admissible in court, you’ll learn all about that way.
There’s the basic Crime Scene Investigator (yep, that’s right, CSI). But you can also specialize and become, say, a fingerprint analyst. Or you could go into forensic toxicology. There are also related fields such as psychological profiler you might look into.
Rule number one: Don’t do anything stupid. You may get into the program with a criminal background, but you will pretty much never get a job. Beyond that, take all the chemistry classes you can.
You’ll be required to take pretty much every science class under the sun, so your ability to excel there will be key. Also, stay caught up on all the technological advances in the field. It pays to be a computer geek in a field like this. Getting an internship for some hands-on experience is a big plus.