Home » A Career in Forensics – Part A of Your Infallible 2021 Guide [Scope of Work, Roles, Specialization Tracks and Career Entry]

A Career in Forensics – Part A of Your Infallible 2021 Guide [Scope of Work, Roles, Specialization Tracks and Career Entry]

Interested in a career in forensics? You must first be amply aware of certain underpinnings of it. What does it take to become a forensic expert? What does a day at work look like? Want to work in the homicide departments of police? Or would you like to work in an independent investigation bureau? Hang in there!

.

This is Part A of your guide that deals with the little details, the scope of work in this career specifically, key roles/responsibilities, specialization tracks and the career entry roadmap models (how you can make an entry into this field).

.

Part B is about what you can study after Class 11-12 for this career specifically, jobs, work environment, competencies that you require to have for jobs, government authorities, salaries, career growth, future prospects, names of international symposiums and international associations associated with professionals in this career.

.

.

Brief Rundown!

‘Forensics’, as is known to most students today, is the overarching term for the activities related to the investigation of a crime using futuristic technologies. As the sciences advance, new investigative techniques are being invented for detecting trace evidence from crime scenes to discover that one mistake that the offenders have overlooked!

Little Details - A Career in Forensics
Little Details

Forensic science plays a pivotal role in maintaining law and order and in relaying impartial justice for the benefit of the society at large. What is obscure to most students today is the applicability of this division of study and the type of roles one may need to play as a professional.

With the competition being so fierce and scarcity of job openings, one may find trouble in landing a job with a degree in forensics. A degree in science may prove to be more marketable.

Primarily, in this field, professionals may serve in the field or in the laboratory, so there are either field officers or lab officers. At the entry level, candidates may also complete provisional apprenticeship under seasoned forensic detectives.

.

.

Scope of Work

Field workforce comprises crime scene investigators, firearms examiner, latent print examiner, tool marks examiner, document examiner, trace evidence examiner etc. Laboratory workforce can be broadly classified into the following departments: Forensic Biology, Forensic Chemistry, Physical Sciences (Forensic), Digital/Computer Forensics, Forensic Psychology, Forensic Linguistics all of which may involve long work hours. Besides field/lab work, there is always an opportunity of academic research or joining as faculty of an educational institution after considerable experience in the respective domains.

.

.

Examples of Key Roles/Responsibilities

Field experts may have to aid the investigation process by visiting the crime scenes, collect physical evidences, take photographs, footprint casts, tire marks, preserve all evidence per se as evidence custodians, maintain photographic index documents, operate crime scene vehicle etc. Hence, a driver’s license is generally required. This is a physically demanding role. Work essentially involves collecting and safeguarding physical evidence which includes all the materials that a suspect may leave at or take from the crime scene.
Forensic chemistry includes domains like analysis of drugs, gunshot residue, radionuclides, firearms, toxins, cosmetics, soil, laser, gases, and narcotics. It requires thorough knowledge of techniques and terminology used in laboratories for the analysis of physical evidence
Forensic biology includes several domains as described in following sections of the article. Thorough knowledge in the respective domains is considered necessary by employers. Work may involve measuring and weighing of a body/carcass, keeping an inventory of valuables and clothing, maintaining accurate, relevant, proper data in files, helping/managing autopsy/morgue area etc. Work includes biological fluids, various laboratory chemicals and blood borne pathogens.
Digital/computer forensics is a vast domain incorporating threat hunting, cyber security and cloud security, information security, recover data like photos, documents and e-mails from data storage devices like computer hard drives, zip and flash drives that have been damaged or tampered.
Forensic accounting requires accounting knowledge with investigative skill sets in preparation of accounting reports from financial findings, analysis of financial data and different litigation and investigative support engagements,. Experts work with tax advisory/legal advisory firms or other consultancies that provide support services to government bodies etc in conducting an investigation.
Linguists and clinical psychologists may also find a rewarding career in this field as consultant evidence examiners working with several agencies, associations, governments and law-enforcement bodies worldwide.

.

.

Specialization Tracks

Field Work

  • Crime Scene Investigator-Generally a law enforcement member for finding, collecting, protecting and transporting evidences securely to the crime lab from the crime scene
  • Firearms examiner – aids the ballistics department for examination of bullets, shell casings and gunshot residues retrieved at the crime scene
  • Latent print examiner – works with footprints, fingerprints, handwriting and palm-prints
  • Tool marks examiner – works extensively with marks distinctive to the tools that the transgressor/criminals may have used
  • Document examiner – authorship and authenticity of the documents that are recovered from the crime site are examined
  • Trace evidence examiner – trace evidences include hair, glass, tires, fibre, paints, soil etc that the offender might have left behind
  • Specialists in communal riots, scientific interrogation, murder/homicide, blast cases/terrorist crimes, crimes against women & children/gender sensitization, property crimes, economic crime cases, human trafficking

Lab Work

  • Foren. Biology:

Pathology, anthropology, spirometry, odontology, entomology, post-mortem toxicology, foren. medicine/surgery, gene sequencing/DNA phenotyping, animal blood group/DNA, serology, botanical specimens, zoological specimens, mitochondrial DNA, paternity testing, semen screening, plant DNA testing, bone analysis(including animals), animal poisoning, food genetics, DNA instructor,

  • Foren. Chemistry

Clandestine drugs, alcohol analysis, gunshot residue analysis, pesticides, pharmacodynamics, equine drug testing, integrity of gases, narcotics, textile and clothing, food poisoning, environmental forensics, natural radionuclides distribution, foren. toxicology, street drug analysis, work place drug test, food contamination, microchemistry, nuclear atomic absorption, firearms, elemental analysis, laser analysis, shoe examination, cosmetics, footwear impression

  • Physical Sciences(Forensic)

Imaging technology, Ballistics, car movements in car accidents, blood spatter analysis, structural analysis, fire investigation, mass disasters, mass disasters, polygraph, microscopy, foren. meteorology, numismatics, foren. photography/illumination

  • Digital/Computer Forensics

SIEM and threat management, cloud security, threat intelligence and incident response, reverse engineering, ethical hacking, intrusion examination, analysis of electronic media(audio/video examination), enterprise information security (eis), e-discovery and legal hold investigation, corporate intelligence and data analytics, malware analysis, Employment of Linux based tools, mobile forensics

  • Foren. Psychology – applying clinical specialties with research and experimentation in diverse arenas of psychology to the legal scenario. Roles as offender interviewer, academic researcher, correctional psychologist, law enforcement consultant, expert witness, evaluator, trial consultant, treatment provider etc.
  • Foren. Linguistics – practice of linguistic scrutiny of spoken and written legal wordings on suicide letters, private wills, witness statements or emergency calls for deciphering the messages and ultimately solve crimes

.

.

Career Entry Roadmap Models

Model A (Field Investigator/technician)

Outline:

  1. Grade X – any combination of subjects
  2. Grade XII – preferably Sciences for technicians
  3. UG degree in any discipline (preferably sciences for technicians), candidates must possess education sufficient to perform the tasks. For aspiring technicians, B.Sc in Criminology, Forensic Science, Chemistry, Biology, Anthropology, Criminal Justice, or related field is generally required. SAT score, ACT score, TOEFL score required for studying abroad
  4. PG degree is generally not required but additional certifications and experience with a law enforcement agency as crime scene specialist may be required per the norms of the hiring company. Associate’s Degree in Crime Scene Investigations, Criminalistics, Forensic or Natural Science(USA) or equivalent in India like MA in Criminology and Police Administration etc

Model B (Foren. Biologist/Chemist/Physical Sciences)

Outline:

  1. Grade X – combination of subjects required for opting for sciences in grade XII
  2. Grade XII – sciences
  3. UG degree in Life Science or Forensic Science, Chemistry or a related field of physical sciences. SAT score, ACT score, TOEFL score for studying abroad
  4. PG degree in Life Sciences, Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Pharmacodynamics or related fields/ Msc in Forensic Medicine
  5. A year or two of stringent laboratory coursework in the particular area of expertise is desirable
  6. UGC NET / SLET/ SET
  7. PhD is not a mandate but provides better pay

Model C (Digital/Computer Forensics)

Outline:

  1. Grade X – combination of subjects required for opting for sciences in grade XII
  2. Grade XII – sciences
  3. UG degree in computing-related course of study or Bachelor of Science Degree with specialization in Digital Forensic Investigations. SAT score, ACT score, TOEFL score for studying abroad.
  4. PG degree in Computer Forensics or related discipline although not a mandate. Prior work experience is sufficient for senior level roles
  5. Certifications(any of the following depending on hiring criteria):
  6. Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
  7. Digital Forensic Certifications (CFCE, CCE)
  8. Additional course training in forensic techniques and tools (cryptology / password cracking)
  9. Certification: CISSP, GCIH, GSEC, CEH+, SANS
  10. Industry standard digital and mobile forensics certifications such as Encase, CFE, GCFE, PCME
  11. GCFA, GCIH or equivalent IR Certification

Model D (Medicine/Surgery-Forensics)

Outline:

  1. Grade X – combination of subjects required for opting for sciences in grade XII
  2. Grade XII – sciences
  3. Bachelor of Medicine or Bachelor of Surgery Degree/ Post Graduate Degree in Clinical, ParaClinical and Pre-Clinical subjects
  4. MD/MS/DM/M.Ch/DNB Medicine or MD Forensic Medicine and Toxicology
  5. The above are required for pursuing a career as academicians/senior residents as well

Model E (Forensic Psychology)

Outline:

  1. Grade X – any combination of subjects
  2. Grade XII – any combination of subjects
  3. Bachelor’s in Social/Clinical/Counselling/Applied/Occupational/Experimental Psychology/ Psychological Statistics or related fields
  4. Master’s in the above or related
  5. M.Phil. is generally a mandate for positions involving investigative psychology, diagnostics, psychotherapy
  6. Exposure to psychological assessment methods like Bender Gestalt Tests, Carl Jung’s Word Association Test, Henry Murray’s Thematic Apperception Test, forensic interview technique, pulse graph recording, Sentence Completion Test etc
  7. Ph.D in Stress Analysis or domains related to one’s post graduate projects is advantageous
  8. Proficiency in SPSS, MS Office, N- Vivo is preferred by recruiters

.

.

Finishing Words!

Finally, you’ve arrived at the point where you can answer all those questions that this post started with (go back if you wish!).

I’ve tried to elucidate all important facts & stuff that you need to bear in mind while you are researching about a career in forensics or about to begin one or recommending someone else.

Understanding the intricacies of any career is not child’s play. It requires experiential assessment of competencies (skills, abilities, knowledge & a lot more). So, career counseling is an indispensable tool for all young minds given the harsh industry dynamics today and we are India’s leading provider in this space. iDreamCareer is also one of the world’s foremost test-administrator in career design.

.

.

Other Interesting Destinations

  1. http://dfs.gov.in/laboratorycfslkolkata.htm
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303994858_Forensic_Psychology_in_India_published_in_International_Research_Journal_on_Police_Science_Volume_1_Issue_I_July_2015
  3. https://agency.governmentjobs.com/
  4. https://www.governmentjobs.com
  5. https://www.crime-scene-investigator.net
  6. https://www.salaryexpert.com
  7. https://www.erieri.com/
  8. http://www.forensics.ca
  9. https://www.conferenceseries.com
  10. http://www.lightmobile.com
  11. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/07/forensic-science-justice-crime-evidence/
  12. https://www.forensicscolleges.com/blog/resources/10-modern-forensic-science-technologies
  13. https://www.livemint.com/Sundayapp/tI8ge5WBhG0HXxCW9mKzNM/The-case-of-Indias-missing-forensic-psychologists.html
  14. https://web.archive.org/web/20110721155637/http://dfs.gov.in/laboratorycfslkolkata.htm

3 thoughts on “A Career in Forensics – Part A of Your Infallible 2021 Guide [Scope of Work, Roles, Specialization Tracks and Career Entry]”

  1. Pingback: Rahul Prakash

  2. Pingback: Priya Jalal

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *