The qualifications needed to become a forensic scientist include a minimum of a bachelor's degree in the natural sciences such as biology or chemistry, according to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics; many candidates for forensic scientist positions also have a master's degree in forensic science. Coursework with an emphasis on biology, chemistry and mathematics is recommended, and students should also take forensic science classes.
The BLS notes that many crime scene investigators are also sworn police officers. Generally, their education is limited to whatever requirements are necessary for admittance into the police academies in their areas. However, non-uniform investigators commonly need a background in science or forensic science, although some rural agencies may hire applicants with just a high school diploma and some related work experience.
On-the-job training is often provided to forensic scientists once hired. Usually, newly hired technicians will work with more experienced investigators to learn proper procedures for collection and documentation of evidence. Technicians may be required to pass an exam to demonstrate their proficiency before working on casework independently or testifying in court.
Training for the forensic scientist is ongoing. Technicians are required to keep up with technological advances as they occur so that they can continually improve their capabilities to analyze and collect evidence.