2 answers

What are the steps to becoming a forensic scientist?

Updated Alpharetta, Georgia

Hi, my name is Kayla and I am a senior in high school, I am interested in pursuing a career in forensics, well I actually want to be a pathologist to be exact. I was wondering if I can ask you a few questions to help me get clarification on the steps to be a real forensic scientist. Also to better understand the livelihood I am going to college for. It would be greatly appreciated, thank you. #forensic #forensics #science #college

2 answers

Ken’s Answer

Updated Cleveland, Ohio

Congratulations on being interested in becoming a forensic scientist. It takes a special person to enter this field and meet the demands which this career area presents. The first step is to get to know yourself to see if you share the personality traits which make forensic scientists successful. The next step is doing networking to meet and talk to and possibly shadow forensic scientists to see if this is something that you really want to do, as a career area could look much different on the inside than it looks from the outside.  

Ken recommends the following next steps:

  • The first step is to take an interest and aptitude test and have it interpreted by your school counselor to see if you share the personality traits necessary to enter the field. You might want to do this again upon entry into college, as the interpretation might differ slightly due to the course offering of the school. However, do not wait until entering college, as the information from the test will help to determine the courses that you take in high school. Too many students, due to poor planning, end up paying for courses in college which they could have taken for free in high school.
  • Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
  • Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. You can locate them by asking your school academic advisor, favorite teachers, and the reference librarian at your local library. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
  • It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##
  • Here are some helpful tips on reducing your college expenses. Too many people spend way too much on an education and end up with unnecessarily high debt. ## http://www.educationplanner.org/students/paying-for-school/ways-to-pay/reduce-college-costs.shtml ##
Thank you so much for all the links and information; I will definitely look into all of this and assure my decision to be in forensics. However since I am already a senior I'm afraid it is too late to for me to do dual enrollment. Do you by chance know any good and easy scholarships that I could apply too?
It may not be necessary for you to do dual enrollment. You may be able to major in one and minor in another. This is a question that you can address along with the scholarship question when you meet people in the professional associations to which people who are doing what you are interested in belong. The face to face networking will be very important throughout your education and career journey, as that is the way that people keep abreast of opportunities and important developments in the field. Another good way to locate scholarships is to talk to your academic adviser and the reference librarian at your local library.
Also, when you talk to graduates from you school who are doing the work that you are interested in , they will also be able to give you some good information. The more people that you meet and talk to face to face, the faster your career path will develop. All of the information that I initially presented has helped many people over the years and when you use it, it will be of great benefit to you also.

Candace’s Answer


Greetings Kayla. John Jay College, my Alma Mater, has a great Forensic Science program where you can earn your BS degree specifically on the Toxicology track. (JJC also has Criminalistics and Biology tracks-I studied Criminalistics). You can start by looking up the brochure on line and if NYC is not your college destination of choice, you can at least compare Forensic Science programs and get an idea of course offerings. Once you start on your journey, the career development center at your school and your advisor should be able to help you decide where you'll go to medical school to become a pathologist.

Candace recommends the following next steps:

  • Visit CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice - view the brochure for Forensic Science/Toxicology
  • Speak with your High School guidance counselor regarding colleges that offer Forensic Science programs
  • Once you identify a few institutions that you think you might like to attend, visit their websites and view their entrance requirements.
Thank you for such a quick response, I have been looking into Albany University in Georgia recently, and they in fact offer a guided pathway for forensics. I do however, have a few questions for you to better understand if you do not mind.
My first question is do you enjoy your work environment even though the area at which you work may not be as lively as others? Do you have any regrets or things you think could have been done differently in your college years that I may learn from? Is there any tips you can give me about getting internships, or my first residency? What is the worst and best part of your job? Approximately how many years will I spend in medical school after earning my Bachelor's? Finally should I be worried about being consumed with studies so much, that I won't have time to enjoy my college years? Thank you again for your time, I hope to hear back soon
I do enjoy my work very much so! Ive always wanted to work in latent prints and controlled substances. Im not sure what you mean by "not being as lively as others" but I can share this with you - there is never a dull moment at NYPD laboratory. We are one of the busiest laboratories in the nation and the variety as far as evidence goes is endless. I think thats one of the best things about my job. The other is that I really enjoy public service and I feel that I am serving my community to the best of my ability. Sometimes the casework comes in like gang busters but that is all a part of working for a large organization.
As far as internships go, they are pretty much a part of the curriculum (at most schools) so inquire about the Medical Examiners Office. I can't offer any advice on medical school since I have never had any interest in attending. Speaking to someone who has the professional experienced is your best bet. Although my courses were science heavy I managed to have a little fun in school. I buddied up with like minded girls-we did our homework before we went out to party-we had our priorities in order. I have no regrets - if I made a plan to do something and it didn't turn out as planned, I learned from the experience and moved on. There is no need for you to worry - help is always within reach if you just reach out.
Thankyou will do!
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