Forensic science is not new; in fact, it was used as far back as the 18th century. It just wasn’t as well-known as it is in contemporary day. With the discovery of DNA and the power it has in proving or disproving theories of crime, along with popular television shows inundating our televisions, forensics has now become mainstream. With so many new advances in the way blood is collected and analyzed, the many purposes of DNA testing and even the way fingerprints are evaluated; it’s a lucrative career choice for many.
Forensic science brings together the scientific, medical and justice systems. It’s an exciting career opportunity and it could even be said forensics is by far the most important witness in any court trial. It’s that scientific evidence that is always concrete and never circumstantial a forensic scientist brings to the table. Often, it determines guilt or innocence.
So what does a digital forensics scientist look like? There are a few suggestions for those interested and intrigued by this important facet of science:
- In terms of education, one needs at a minimum a bachelor’s in science along with studies in forensic sciences, chemistry, biology, English composition, etc.
- Commitment to continuing education courses.
- A sense of ethics and ability to remain unbiased.
- The ability to write well – this is important since many reports are compiled for use by lawyers and other aspects of the judicial system.
- The ability to speak confidently since many forensics experts are called upon to testify in court proceedings.
Of course, this list is by no means all-inclusive; it is, however, a good place to start. While the salaries will vary greatly depending on one’s education level, the job itself and the level of experience, there are unlimited opportunities for career advancement; therefore, salary advancements will increase too. The environment a forensic scientist works in includes laboratories, offices, medical examiner’s offices, hospitals, toxicology labs and any other settings where evidence is collected, stored and/or analyzed. Many forensic experts work for the federal government or sometimes, even state or local governments.
Finally, with the advances made in digital and multimedia sciences, many forensics personnel are delving into this new specialty. It makes sense because photographs and other imaging is used to document crime scenes, autopsies and even mug shots taken at the time of arrest. These examiners work to ensure digital images collected as evidence from crime scenes have not been tampered with. For example, if a photograph is found that shows someone in a compromising position, the digital forensics team goes to work to ensure it’s accurate and has not been modified in a computer program. It’s not only still images, but video is often analyzed as well.