While pop culture may indicate forensic science jobs are limited to working in a laboratory running tests on bodily tissues and fluids, there are many others worth considering as well. In addition to being a laboratory analyst, a medical examiner, a crime scene examiner, or a forensic engineer are also possibilities. No matter what career path is chosen, the ultimate goal of all forensic science jobs is to cooperate with other law enforcement specialists to piece together as much of the crime scene as possible.
The bulk of the work of a laboratory analyst is to examine evidence from a chemical and physical perspective. Testing bodily fluids and tissues, and then identifying who they belong to, is key to solving many types of crimes. From rape to murder, this job in forensic science plays a key role in finding the perpetrator in many cases.
Of all the forensic science jobs, the medical examiner may be subject to the most gruesome type of work. Those who choose this career will be responsible for conducting autopsies. They will usually work in a laboratory, but also may be called to work at the scene of the crime in some circumstances. Bodies may be in various states of decay. There are three main questions the medical examiner will need to answer: the manner of death, the cause of death, and the time of death. Manner of death includes one of three possibilities: homicide, suicide or natural. Cause of death could be anything such as drowning, gunshot or heart attack.
The crime scene examiner is often responsible for the collection of evidence that both the medical examiner and laboratory analyst will examine during the course of the investigation. While all forensic science jobs require a great attention to detail, this one requires even more thoroughness to avoid compromising or destroying evidence. Without it, those in the other forensic science jobs will never get a chance to make the important discoveries that could break the case.
The forensic engineer works with very technical types of investigations to determine causes and manners of incidents. For example, someone in this forensic job may need to determine if a traffic collision, or home fire, was intentional or the result of an accident. This often involves re-creating the circumstances at the time the incident took place. To do that, the forensic engineer must backtrack, often looking at each cause and effect, to come up with a conclusion.