Forensic scientist

Forensic scientists prepare traces of physical evidence for use in courts of law.

Average salary (a year)

£20,000 Starter

to

£45,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 40 a week

You could work

on call at short notice

How to become a forensic scientist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly

University

You can do a degree or postgraduate qualification in:

  • forensic science
  • a related subject like chemistry, biological science, physics or medical sciences

It may help to choose a university qualification accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • at least 2 or 3 A levels, including chemistry
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information

Apprenticeship

You may be able to start by doing a laboratory scientist higher or degree apprenticeship.

It will help if you do your aprenticeship with a company that provides forensic science services, or with a police force that has its own in-house lab facilities.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and college qualifications like A levels for a higher or a degree apprenticeship

More information

Direct application

You can apply directly to forensic services providers if you've got a lot of lab experience, and qualifications in science, especially chemistry.

More information

Career tips

If you want to specialise in recovering data from computers and mobile phones, you'll need relevant experience and qualifications. Useful subjects include computing, electrical engineering, electronics or physics.

Further information

You can find out more on careers in forensics from The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • excellent written communication skills
  • the ability to work on your own
  • legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could be:

  • blood grouping and DNA profiling
  • analysing fluid and tissue samples for traces of drugs and poisons
  • examining splash patterns and the distribution of particles
  • analysing handwriting, signatures, ink and paper
  • providing expert advice on explosives, firearms and ballistics
  • researching and developing new technologies
  • recovering data from computers, mobile phones and other electronic equipment
  • attending crime scenes, like a murder or fire
  • giving impartial, scientific evidence in court

Working environment

You could work on the streets, in a laboratory or in a court.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into management and direct other forensics staff as a forensics manager or casework examiner.

You could also work as a reporting scientist, acting as an expert witness in court.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Technician Scientist Apprenticeship – Cell & Gene Therapy

  • Wage : £15,000.00 Annually
  • Location: Manchester M13 9XX

Laboratory Scientist Degree Apprenticeship (Chemical Sciences) - DuPont Teijin Films

  • Wage : £15,000.00 Annually
  • Location: Redcar TS10 4RF

Courses In England

Science BTEC Certificate leading to Extended Certificate

  • Provider: Havering Sixth Form College
  • Start date: 05 September 2019
  • Location: Hornchurch

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in in Applied Science

  • Provider: Redland Green School
  • Start date: 02 September 2019
  • Location: Bristol

JobsIn the United Kingdom

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