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Q&A: Forensic Science Job Help?

by tom44 on April 2, 2014

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Question by dance.chic: Forensic Science Job Help?
I really want to be either a forensic science technician, or a forensic pathologist when I get older. I know what both of them do, roughly, but could you please explain the job a little bit? THANKS!

Best answer:

Answer by Kurt
I’m not a forensic pathologist, however, of the ones I’ve met, you’ve kind of got to have a certain personality for it. The best ones, at least in my opinion, don’t do it because they see it done on CSI. In fact, you really do have to ignore everything about CSI– especially the pretty graphics. A lot of the analysis, even with high-end equipment, is boring. There are a lot of journals to read, lots of equations to reference, and lots of databases to have to access manually– each with their own quirks.

… on top of all that, you have to have the ability to totally not care about the crime or the person involved when you’re on the job. You have to be able to make fun of dead bodies– even if they were violently murdered or were blown up in an explosion– otherwise you’ll hate the field and go insane.

You’ll also become well-versed with courtroom etiquette and legal issues, both of which will give you a considerably greater insight into the legal system (and, as a worst-case scenario, give you a baseline for becoming a lawyer). You’ll also have to deal with what some view as “red tape” getting in your way of showing the “full truth” to the jury. Finally, at no fault to you, even with the evidence in plain view, irrefutably, you’ll have to deal with the fact that people will still get off the hook.

There’s also extra money to be made through consulting with private interests. For example, insurance companies will pay consulting fees to bring you in when someone files a large claim under suspicious circumstances.

You’ll have to travel. You’ll have to drive around to courthouses in various cities and counties, and sometimes big things happen (like explosions or airplane crashes) and you, along with your colleagues, will be flown out to help pick up the pieces of people to piece together.

Finally, the field has lots of big egos. Unlike in a hospital, the examiners and assistant examiners are the only doctors (if they even are, though the best ones are imo) doing what they’re doing in that environment, in that county, so naturally the inexorable “I’m right” mentality can surface, and it can be frustrating.

All in all, a very, very cool field… but don’t do it because of CSI– ever. It’s challenging and fun, but there truly is a lot of getting your paws dirty, documenting everything, making calculations, boringness, reading, more reading, and finally, keeping a good head about it, arguably the last the most important for longevity in the field.

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