Educational Requirements For A Forensic Scientist

the main focus of this article is about given you a detailed understanding on the degree programs, experience, certification, license requirements and much more.

Updated by Rakshitha N on 13th October 2020

In the United States, forensic science is an important and advanced field in crime  investigation. Forensic scientists are responsible for collecting evidence, investigating the crime place to determine the foreign substances and solve the crimes. With increasing job opportunities and  high job growth of 14 percent, most students dream of landing on this job by gaining higher earning potentials. 

Becoming a forensic scientist requires extensive training, educational requirements necessary to meet to become a qualified professional. Hence pay attention to the path you choose as your future role lies with what you choose. In this article, we will elaborate on the various degree levels, education programs, training, license and skills required for a forensic scientist. 

Educational requirements for a Forensic Scientist

To become a forensic scientist, there are a number of distinctive requirements in the education gained, the majors chose, the certification, and other. To brief, a Bachelor’s degree in Forensic Sciences, Criminology or a related field is the minimum requirement according to the employer. Gaining experience gives an upper hand in working efficiently in the working place while enhancing your skills and thinking capacities. The journey might seem lengthy but the time invested in becoming a forensic scientist will result beneficially for your career. We will discuss the requirements in detail further.


Associate degree in Forensic Science

An associate’s degree is an entry-level degree which provides surface and required knowledge for an entry-level job. It offers 60 credits to complete the necessary coursework. This is usually pursued by students to land on a job soon in less time. Some associate degree programs in forensic science include, 

  • Associate in applied science in forensic science

  • Associate in science in crime scene technology

  • Associate in applied science in criminal justice technology


Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science

This is a minimum required degree level that offers 120-128 credits to complete coursework such as forensic biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology which helps in tracing evidences, DNA or ballistics which is crucial for investigation. You could also choose biology or chemistry as a major in this degree. Some programs of forensic science are, 

  • Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Forensic Science

  • Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a concentration in Forensic Science

  • Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with a concentration in Forensic Science

  • Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Forensic Science

  • Bachelor of Science in Genetic Engineering with a concentration in Forensic Science

  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Chemistry

  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Biology


Master’s Degree in Forensic Science

This is an advanced degree pursued by students who want to advance their career and gain higher administrative or research positions. It offers 33-36 credits to work on researching skills, case study, thesis writing and learning the core specialities. The programs offered in this level are,

  • Master of Science in Forensic Science

  • Master of Science in Criminalistics

  • Master of Science in Forensic Biology

  • Master of Science in Biomedical Forensic Science


Doctorate Degree in Forensic Science

Earning a PhD in forensic science helps you advance your skills and studies in forensic chemistry, forensic biology, and forensic biochemistry. This degree yields you positions such as researching an institution, professions in the core course. Some common doctorate degrees programs in forensic science include,

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)

  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)

  • Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)


Training Program 

After completing your education, you are required to gain experience under the supervision of an experienced profession which gives you better understanding on the techniques, tools and methods used to conduct investigations. Methods to gain experience can be by attending workshops, internships, gaining part-time jobs or getting an entry-level job to obtain on-the-job training. 


Certificate program (Graduate or Undergraduate)

To increase your credibility and stand out among other applicants, earning an undergraduate or graduate certification in a relevant course is a plus. 

It is mainly earned by the ones who look forward to completing a bachelor degree and require additional supplements to their main program. However, in a degree you get only a  brief idea on the course whereas a certificate in the same course represents your excellence. 

Earning certification from accredited online certification programs helps you save time and money while completing the course at your own pace. 

This also largely helps in filling up your resume and increases your marketability for a job. 


Certification Exams for Licensure

After graduating and gaining sufficient experience you are eligible and well qualified to earn the license. Gaining a license from the accredited board according to the state regulations will help you work in government organizations and advanced positions. To get hired easily, ensure you gain certification from these accredited boards,

  • Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board

  • The American College of Forensic Examiners International (ACFEI)

  • The American Board of Criminalists

  • The American College of Forensic Examiners

  • The International Association for Identification


Skills Required for Forensic Scientist

Certain additional key skills required to excel in your workplace are,

  • Analytical and critical thinking

  • Technical knowledge

  • Attention to detail

  • Good communication

  • Problem solving

  • Stress management

  • Teamwork

  • Knowledge on computer and technologies

  • Interpret the results

  • Proactive learner