Forensic science is the study involving the practical application of scientific principles in the investigation of a crime. If you are inquisitive, adventurous, and seek a challenging profession, you can opt for forensic science degrees. The role of a forensic science technician is to collect and analyze all kinds of physical evidence such as fingerprints, blood, semen, saliva, firearms, and drugs. It may also involve rebuilding skeletal bones from the crime spot. After collecting and analyzing the evidences, they are required to create reports, ensure the validity, safety, and security of evidence, testify at trials or evidentiary hearings, and interact with attorneys and law enforcement staffs.
You can pursue either a bachelor's or master's degree in forensic science, and the duration of the course may vary from two years to four years. The curriculum of this degree includes genetics and DNA technology, crime scene and death investigation, introduction to forensic microscopy, forensic comparative science, legal issues, digital evidence, bio chemistry, and science statistical issues. Many colleges provide internships and seminars to their students on a regular basis for practical experience.
Forensic science technicians, play a key role in determining the guilt or innocence of the accused. According to a survey, in 2006 almost 13,000 people were employed as forensic science technicians. Jobs for forensic science technicians are expected to increase much faster than the average of all occupations put together. Apart from the position of a forensic technician, you also have the posts of scientists and supervisors in the field. Almost all the forensic science experts work either for state or federal criminology department. The candidates who have obtained a forensic science degree can expect an annual salary package of $35,000 to $50,000 on an average. However, this differs from state to state. Medical and retirement compensation are also provided to all the employees.
The cost of pursuing a forensic science degree depends on the length of the program and the school or college where you wish to do it from. The average tuition fee is around $17,000 for a bachelor's degree, while for a master's degree it is about $25,000 per annum. Food, lodging, and transportation may result in additional expenditure.
There are many colleges in the United States of America that offer forensic science degrees. The Michigan State University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Arcadia University are some of the colleges which provide both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in forensic science.
Testing & Preparation
You may be required to produce the scores of Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) to determine your eligibility for the admission. If you happen to be an international student, then you will also be required to take up the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). You must have completed a high school certificate program to pursue a bachelor's degree and completed bachelor's degree with a minimum of 3.00 Grade Point Average (GPA) for a master's degree.
Apart from these, the general requirements include an enquiring mind, a logical and analytical approach, highly-developed observational and scientific skills, patience, concentration, personal integrity, high level hand-to-eye co-ordination, effective communication skills, ability to work in a team, ability to meet deadlines and work under pressure, and a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail.
The Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners (AFTE) scholarship provides an award of $1,000 for students who wish to pursue forensic science degrees. The colleges themselves have a program to offer financial aid and scholarships to their students. Apart from these, the Federal Student Aid also provides scholarships to the worthy students. You may also avail student loans from several banks such as Citibank and Fifth Third Bank.