Choosing a Career

So You Want to Be a Forensic Scientist!

Below is a guide to the many possibilities for satisfying life choices of careers combining science and service in the interests of society, justice, and public safety.

If you have additional questions regarding choosing a career, forensic science in general, or membership with AAFS, please contact:

Download PDF version of Career Brochure HERE.


What is Forensic Science?

The word forensic comes from the Latin word forensis: public; to the forum or public discussion; argumentative, rhetorical, belonging to debate or discussion.

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What Do Forensic Scientists Do?

The forensic sciences form a vital part of the entire justice and ­regulatory system. The forensic scientist’s goal is the ­evenhanded use of all available information to determine the facts and, subsequently, the truth.

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What’s a Forensic Scientist?

A forensic scientist is first a scientist. When a scientist’s knowledge is used to help lawyers, juries, and judges understand the results of scientific tests, the scientist becomes a forensic scientist.

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Kinds of Forensic Science: Discipline Sections Within the American Academy of Forensic Sciences

The American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the largest forensic science organization in the world, is composed of over 7,000 scientists organized into eleven sections representing the different areas of interest, activity, education, and expertise of individual members.

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How Do I Become a Forensic Scientist?

You will need a bachelor’s degree (possibly an advanced degree), good note-taking and observation skills, and intellectual curiosity.

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How Much Money Will I Make?

Income in the forensic sciences varies greatly depending upon your degree, your actual job, where you work, and how many hours you work. Every branch or forensic science offers opportunity for ­personal growth, career advancement, and increasing financial ­compensation.

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Where Will I Work?

Forensic scientists work in laboratories, at crime scenes, in offices, in classrooms, and in morgues.

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Web links: See more resources HERE.

For information about the folks who brought you this information, the Forensic Sciences Foundation, Incorporated, click HERE.

Please direct all questions/comments to the AAFS Office at

For a list of colleges and universities who offer both undergraduate and graduate programs in forensic science within the United States as well as internationally, click HERE.

Produced for the American Academy of Forensic Sciences by:

The Forensic Sciences Foundation, Inc.
410 N. 21st Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
(719) 636-1100
Fax (719) 636-1993
Betty Layne DesPortes, JD, Chair, Board of Trustees
Anne Warren, BS, Executive Director

Gil Brogdon, MD
Carla Noziglia, MS

The Forensic Sciences Foundation, Inc., is a non-profit tax exempt organization under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Copyright © 1996-2015 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.