Careers in Forensic Science
in Forensic scienceForensic science is primarily concerned with the application
of scientific principles for the investigation of crime. Using the very latest
in technology, forensic scientists convert the clues collected from a crime
scene into evidence admissible in a court of law. It is the use or application
of science in courts or legal proceedings. This is a challenging and interesting
field for those who have are inquisitive and loves adventure.
Forensic Science is essentially a crime laboratory-based profession, the course
qualifies students to apply their knowledge of science to the investigation of
crime. But the expertise of a forensic professional is also used in civil cases
for issues like proving the validity of a signature on a will, to a claim of the
products liability, to find out whether an industry is complying with
Forensic scientists analyze all physical evidence found on a victim on the scene
of a crime and compare it to evidence found on a suspect and provide expert
testimony in a court of law. The evidences might include traces of blood,
saliva, other body fluids, hair, fingerprints, footwear and tyre impressions,
explosives, specimens of tissue for poisons, blood and urine for alcohol etc.
Their expertise lies in the determination of facts using these evidences. They
have to prepare a report of their investigation and appear in the court to give
evidence. They work closely with the police to provide scientific evidence that
is admissible in the court.
Forensic science is not a discipline or branch of science, but is a catch-all
for many distinct disciplines. It is broadly grouped into three: Medical,
laboratory and field science.
Forensic /career/options/forensic/datamedicine is a broad medical subject which
includes forensic pathology, psychiatry, psychology, forensic medicine and
odontology (dentistry). Laboratory sciences include chemistry, biology,
toxicology, ballistics, fingerprints, questioned documents and marks and
impressions. Field sciences include crime scene investigation which incorporates
areas such as fire and explosion scenes and clandestine drug laboratories.
Educational: To take up a
masters course in forensic science you need to be a graduate preferably with a
first division in Physics, chemistry, zoology, botany, biochemistry,
microbiology, B.pharm, BDS or applied science.
To become a specialist who conducts
post-mortems on dead bodies to find out the cause of death, you must first
secure an MBBS degree and then go for an MD in Forensic Science. All Indian
Universities that offer MBBS courses also offer an MD in Forensic Science.
For Research : Indian
nationals below 30 years and who have obtained 1st class marks in Master's
degree in any one of the subjects : Physics / Chemistry / Biochemistry /
Anthropology / Zoology / Molecular Biology / Maths (with Physics as one of the
subjects at the bachelor degree level) / Biotechnology / Mi
crobiology / Computer
Science / Computer Engineering / Forensic Psychology etc. or M.Phil in the same
subjects whichever is the essential qualification for the award of Ph.D degree
of a recognised Indian University.
Personal attributes: An
inquisitive nature and a concern for accuracy is the main attribute required to
be in this field. They must have keen observation, intelligence, an eye for
detail, ability to work along with a team, a logical, practical and methodical
approach. An aptitude for scientific analysis is essential.
They can find employment with law
enforcement agencies, police, legal system and in the investigative services of
the government and also private agencies. They can also work as teachers in
institutes that conduct courses in this subject.
Opportunities for forensic scientists exist
in government organisations such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the Central
Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and as investigative officers in the crime cells
of state police forces. Forensic experts essentially work in forensic labs and
sometimes even in large private detective agencies to establish the link between
the criminal and the crime.
There are variety of options for forensic
professionals. They can specialise in subjects as varied as medicine,
engineering, fingerprinting, insect study, languages, geology etc.
Crime Scene Investigation:
Scene investigation involves issues such as security, prevention of
contamination, locating and collecting relevant items of evidence,
interpretation of evidence and possible reconstruction of the event. Scenes can
range from a relatively simple house break to a fire in a multi-storey building
or a city bombing.
Diploma in Forensic Investigation or Degree in Forensic Investigation or Degree
in Analytical Chemistry.
Forensic Pathology/ Medicine:
Forensic pathologists determine the time and cause of death in cases of
suspected murder or suicide. This involves post mortem examinations of deaths
reported to determine the cause and the manner of death. (i.e. sudden and
unexpected deaths or deaths due to accident or injury, suicide or homicide).
Medical degree (MBBS) with M.D or appropriate post-graduate qualifications in
Forensic anthropologists use their knowledge of human skeletal anatomy to assist
in the identification of skeletal remains. They are called to identify
individuals murdered or killed in disasters such as plane crashes, explosions,
fires and other tragedies resulting in the loss of life and mutilation of
bodies. They may also be able to discover the age, sex, ancestry, stature, and
unique features of the deceased.
Qualification required: A
Ph.D in anthropology with an emphasis on the study of human osteology and
anatomy or a Medical degree (MBBS) with appropriate post-graduate
Forensic Psychology and Psychiatry:
Psychiatry and psychology are concerned with whether a mental state may be a
mitigating circumstance in the commission of an alleged crime, whether a person
is mentally fit to stand trial and treating those convicted of crimes who are
mentally ill. A forensic psychologist is any psychologist who by virtue of
training or experience may assist a court or other fact finder in arriving at a
just or correct decision.
Forensic psychologists or psychiatrists may
be called on to evaluate a murder scene to suggest a possible psychological
profile of the killer.
Medical degree (MBBS) with appropriate post-graduate qualifications
Forensic Dentistry (Odontology):
It is a branch of dentistry which deals with the collection, evaluation and
proper handling of dental evidence in order to assist law enforcement officers
and in civil & criminal proceedings. The role of the odontologist is to identify
bodies and skeletal remains from dental records, reconstruct faces from skulls
and where possible, interpret bite marks.
Degree in Dentistry, Post Graduate Diploma of Forensic Odontology.
Clinical Forensic Medicine:
Those involved in clinical forensic medicine amongst other things, examine
victims of crime and suspects who may have sustained an injury while allegedly
committing a crime. They give interpretations of their findings such as the
possible causes and timing of the injuries.
Medical degree (MB BS) with appropriate post-graduate qualifications
Forensic entomology is the application of the study of insects and other
arthropods to legal issues. The time of death, for example, can be determined
using insect evidence gathered from and around a corpse.
Forensic Serology: Forensic
serology is the study of blood groups, blood, and other bodily fluids for
identification purposes following a crime. Forensic serologists also carry out
DNA fingerprinting, which offers the possibility of positive identification of
an individual from samples of blood or semen.
Forensic Chemist: Areas of
work includes the detection and identification of illicit drugs, accelerants
used in arson cases, explosive and gunshot residues, trace evidence, including
paint, glass, polymers and fibres.
Science degree with a major in analytical, applied or forensic chemistry.
is the scientific study of fingerprints. Fingerprints is perhaps the most well
known of the forensic sciences. It also involves the identification of
fingerprints and their ability to categorically link suspects to or exclude
suspects from a crime scene.
Forensic linguists analyse the content of written or oral communication to
identify who is speaking and indicate the speaker's intent, and can determine
whether two communications are from the same person. This is obviously important
in cases of kidnapping.
Ballistics: Ballistics is
the study of the flight paths of projectiles, but modern ballistics now includes
the study of everything to do with firearms. It also involves the determination
of the angle and distance a gun was fired from to hit a specific target.
Science degree with a major in a relevant discipline, Diploma in forensic
investigation, Degree in forensic investigation.
involves the detection and identification of illicit and pharmaceutical drugs
and poisons, interpreting toxicity levels and the effects on the functions of
Science degree with a major in chemistry or biochemistry.
Forensic Engineer: Deals
with traffic accidents, fire investigations, and a variety of wrongful injury
cases. Engineers are involved in failure analysis, accident reconstruction,
causes and origins of fires or explosions, quality evaluation of construction or
Qualification required: An
Engineering degree with post-graduate qualifications in Forensic Engineering.
Photography: A crime scene
must be photographed from every angle clearly to show detail, with the emphasis
on accurately recording the size and distance of objects.
Forensic artists & sculptors:
Forensic artists can draw a likeness of a person based solely on
eyewitness accounts. Modern techniques of computer animation are now starting to
be used to show evidence or expert testimony to courts. Forensic sculptors can
reconstruct faces, usually in modelling clay or on a computer from skulls or
other fragments. The expertise may enable the police to find out who a person
was when no other clues are available.
Cytology: Bullet cytology
is a new subject which makes it possible to determine which part of the body a
bullet went through by the tissue which is left on the bullet.
geologists can determine such things as where the suspect or victim walked by
examining soil samples taken from their shoes or feet
Remuneration for various state forensics
departments would be as per government pay scales. The state department salaries
begin around Rs. 4000 and increases according to the rank and years of
experience. Forensic scientists holing postgraduate qualifications can expect to
start with a salary of Rs.6000 - Rs.8000 depending on the nature of the
organisation. Private forensic laboratories offer lucrative pay packages to
scientists with a few years of experience behind them. A freelancer in the field
can charge according to requirements of the individual case.