Forensic scientists thoroughly examine the materials associated with crimes. They assist the police with their enquiries whenever scientific advice is required.
A levels in science subjects are required to enter into work as an assistant forensic scientist. Assistant forensic scientists may be encouraged to work towards a science-related degree. For direct entry into a forensic science role, an honours degree in a scientific subject is required. However, it is important to note that the number of forensic science graduates far outweighs the number of forensic science job vacancies. Candidates with relevant laboratory experience and postgraduate qualifications in forensic biology or chemistry will be at an advantage over those lacking such skills and qualifications. A driving licence is likely to be a requirement for many forensic science jobs, as is good colour vision. On appointment, forensic science training involves embarking on specialist in-house courses and completing practical coursework.
Forensic scientists require an interest in science, an enquiring mind, good problem solving skills, a methodical approach to work, and an ability to cope with handling bodily fluids such as blood.
The Forensic Science Service (FSS) and independent forensic science laboratories provide jobs for forensic scientists and assistant forensic scientists. Forensic scientists are required to work shifts. Opportunities for full-time and part-time employment are available. Vacancies are advertised in newspapers, scientific publications and through recruitment agencies.
Starting salaries for assistant forensic scientists are around £13,000 a year. Salaries for those working in London are usually slightly higher. Experienced forensic scientists may become reporting officers or staff managers.