Forensic scientists apply scientific procedures and techniques to the examination of potential evidence that may assist in legal investigations.
To become a forensic scientist you usually have to study forensic science at university (preferably at honours level), followed by a postgraduate qualification in forensic science. You may also consider degrees in other relevant areas, which may provide entry into various areas of forensic science. Relevant areas include biology, botany, chemistry, physics, dentistry or medicine. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology are normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.
Forensic scientists may perform the following tasks:
A wide range of expertise is required for forensic investigations. A forensic scientist may specialise in chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, botany, pharmacology, toxicology, crime scene examination, firearms examination, fingerprint or document examination.
A career in crime scene investigation, fingerprint identification or firearms examination may require entry into one of the state or territory police forces and completion of national training in the selected discipline. See the separate entries for Police Officer - State and Police Officer - Australian Federal Police for further details. The main employers of forensic scientists are state and federal government health departments and state, territory and federal police forces. The Australian Federal Police, through its Forensic and Data Centres Division in Canberra, employs forensic scientists in the disciplines of crime scene examination, fingerprint identification, firearms and ammunition identification, document examination, forensic biology and forensic chemistry.