People who work in the forensic science field specialize in criminology, performing such activities as collecting and analyzing DNA samples, investigating physical evidence from crimes and conducting tests on weapons. With a postgraduate diploma in forensic science, you can establish a career in criminology.
With a degree in forensic science, you can work as a crime laboratory analyst. Crime laboratory analysts are scientists who study physical evidence -- such as hair, DNA and bones -- that crime scene investigators bring into a crime lab. A crime laboratory analyst analyzes the physical evidence and helps detectives put together pieces of a crime puzzle based on scientific discoveries.
Another laboratory career option is that of a forensic science technician. As a forensic science technician, you are responsible for collecting and analyzing samples and putting together reports based on your findings. Technicians are often asked to testify in criminal court cases as witnesses or experts and provide scientific information that they discovered. A technician also works closely with the medical examiner who is performing the autopsy to help determine the time of a death.
A forensic science diploma can be the starting point for a career as a ballistics expert. Ballistics experts are specialists in weapons, specifically firearms. These individuals serve a vital role in helping detectives identify the types of ammunition used at crime scenes and trace it back to the type of firearm used to commit a crime. To become a ballistics expert, you need a background in forensic science, as well as training in weaponry. These positions are field-based and you will be working with criminal investigation teams.
Detectives' offices need forensic specialists to help find evidence to a crime from behind a desk. With a forensic science diploma you might qualify for a position as a computer forensic investigator, forensic economist, forensic accountant -- who traces financial transactions in search of illegal activity -- or a forensic document examiner. Forensic document examiners determine whether documents are authentic, look for trends in penmanship and investigate ink and print to find clues to solve the case.
Forensic anthropologists, biologists, chemists and toxicologists are necessary for an investigation team to string together evidence. Each scientist has his own specialty. For instance, forensic anthropologists study human bones. They analyze skeletal formations to determine the weight, height, sex and age of a victim. Toxicologists study bodily fluids for toxic substances, such as drugs and alcohol, which might have some relevancy to a case.
Forensics and Imaging
Forensic artists and photographers are necessary for capturing and creating images of how crime scenes look and what criminal suspects or victims look like. Both positions spend their time split between the field and the office. A forensic engineer is closely related to imaging in that he recreates crime scene environments so detectives can study the events of a case.
Crime teams rely on forensic clinicians to work with victims and witnesses. Such jobs include forensic nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. If you are a clinician and obtain your diploma in forensic science, you could specialize as a forensic clinician.