The starting point for a career as a forensic scientist is a bachelor's degree in a science field such as chemistry or biology. Many forensic scientists also meet the requirements to attend a police academy. Some former police offers can become crime scene investigators based on experience rather than education.
During the college years, an aspiring forensic scientist should take a lot of math and science courses. To enhance career opportunities, some earn a master's of forensic science degree to go along with an undergraduate degree in science or a related field.
On-the-job training is standard for forensic scientists. This training typically takes place under the supervision of a veteran investigator. The training includes time in the field investigating crime scenes as well as time in the lab examining specimens. Though not required for career entry, forensic scientists may have to pass proficiency exams or complete certification requirements to gain jobs in certain states, agencies or work settings.
Along with education and training, forensic scientists need certain qualities to succeed on the job. Excellent detail orientation and analytic skills are used to gather and analyze DNA, blood spatters and other evidence. Math and problem-solving skills, combined with good communication skills, make a forensic scientist a valuable resource in solving crimes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.