TABLE 8-1 Educational Pathways to Some Forensic Science Careers

Forensic Discipline

Educational Requirements

Crime scene investigation

Jobs are typically held by law enforcement personnel. Meet requirements for joining the law enforcement agency. For federal jobs, a college degree is required.

Computer crime investigation/forensic computer science

B.S. in computer science or computer engineering; M.S. may be common.


B.S. in the physical sciences, with background in chemistry

Forensic engineering

B.S. in engineering; practitioners may also be licensed as professional engineers (PEs).

Forensic pathology

Appropriate college degree; M.D.; internship and pathology residency; and specialized training in forensic pathology; additionally requires state license and board certification.

Forensic odontology

Appropriate college degree; D.D.S. or D.D.M.; may include additional specialty training; additionally requires state license and board certification.

Forensic entomology

Ph.D. in entomology.

Forensic anthropology

M.S. or M.A. at minimum; many have Ph.D.s.

Forensic psychiatry

Similar to forensic pathology, with residency in psychiatry.

Forensic psychology

M.S.W. or Ph.D. in psychology; often must meet state requirements for clinical practice and may be certified.

SOURCE: Gaensslen, 2003.

entry into forensic science careers (see Table 8-1). As a starting point, one needs an appropriate degree. The required minimum degree for entry-level forensic science positions ranges from a bachelor’s degree to a doctoral or medical degree.7 Almirall and Furton8 suggest that it is possible to begin a career as a crime scene investigator or in firearms, documents, or fingerprints with an associate degree.

It should be noted that the preferred degree is often higher than an


Gaensslen, op. cit.


R. Almirall and K.G. Furton. 2003. Trends in forensic science education: Expansion and increased accountability. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 376:1156-1159.

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