Guest Author - Susan D. Bates
The field of forensics (also called forensic science) encompasses a wide range of sciences that uncover and analyze evidence used in criminal and civil court cases. Students who are interested in the field of forensics must understand the different specialty areas within the field.
Below is a list of some of the specialty areas within the field of forensics:
Criminalists (also called forensic science technicians) work in forensic science laboratories using science to analyze evidence. Criminalists analyze evidence such as body fluids, fibers, fingerprints and firearms.
Forensic accountants examine financial records to uncover fraud and other white-collar crimes.
Forensic anthropologists use the science of physical anthropology to identify bone fragments. Some forensic anthropologists use skulls to create models of how a face may have once appeared.
Forensic Computer Science
Forensic Computer Scientists search computers for evidence, investigate online fraud, and track criminals using their knowledge of technology.
Forensic dentists identify human dental remains and analyze bite marks.
Forensic Document Examination
Forensic document examiners assess the validity of handwriting and possible alterations to documents. They also use scientific knowledge of paper, ink, and handwriting to make determinations about documents.
Forensic engineers explain why or how an incident occurred. For example, a forensic engineer may be asked to explain why an airplane crashed or why a building collapsed.
Forensic entomologists use knowledge of arthropods, such as insects and arachnids, to reveal information about crimes.
Forensic geologists analyze soil and other materials from the ground for evidence.
Forensic nurses work with victims in cases such as sexual assault, child abuse, and domestic violence. They collect evidence and serve as a liaison to law enforcement agencies.
Forensic pathologists (also called medical examiners) are physicians who use their medical science expertise to determine cause of death by performing autopsies.
Forensic psychology / Forensic psychiatry
Forensic psychologists and forensic psychiatrics use their knowledge of human behavior to understand and interpret criminal behavior.
Forensic toxicologists analyze blood and biological materials to search for alcohol and other toxins.
The field of forensics represents a diverse group of scientists, who use their expert knowledge in an effort to find and understand evidence. Some forensic professionals work full-time in the forensics field, while others assist law enforcement in addition to their regular professional duties.
Students who wish to become forensic professionals should investigate their specialty area of interest. In addition to taking courses directly related to their area of interest, should take courses in writing and public speaking because all forensic professionals must be able to submit well-written reports and offer expert testimony in court.