Media attention to forensic science in the court and criminal justice system has created a fast-expanding job market, resulting in numerous, well-paying jobs to graduates with bachelor’s degrees in the field. Recent published studies report an ever-increasing demand for forensic scientists, and estimates suggest that 10,000 new forensic scientists will be required in the next five years to sufficiently staff the nation’s forensic laboratories.
Forensic scientists interact closely with criminal justice professionals such as police officers, sheriff's deputies, prosecutors and defense attorneys, crime scene investigators, and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Office of Homeland Security and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Forensic scientists work in morgues, laboratories, court settings and police departments. They are employed by local, state and federal government agencies; public and private universities; medical examiner offices; forensic and medical laboratories; hospitals; law firms; police departments and a growing number of private companies. They can also be self-employed as consultants to courts, law enforcement agencies, university-based research laboratories, law firms and medical examiner offices.
A Forensic Science Program Advisory Committee has also been established and includes representatives from local, state and federal crime laboratories, as well as privately operated labs that serve the criminal justice community. This group of prestigious forensic science practitioners and policy makers guides the growth and evolution of the program to ensure that Loyola meets the increasingly rigorous and changing needs of the field.
Qualifications for a Career in Forensic Science
Forensic Science is an integral part of the overall criminal justice system. All forensic scientists must have personal honesty, personal integrity, and scientific objectivity. Additionally, the professional skills of a forensic scientist include: critical thinking; good laboratory practices employing laboratory safety; observation and attention to detail; public speaking; oral and written communications; and computer proficiency.
Prior to employment, all individual will be subjected to background checks similar to those required for law enforcement officers as a condition of employment. these can include: in-depth personal and financial checks; history of drug use; drug testing; polygraph examinations; driving history; and past work performance. More detailed information can be found in the National Institute of Justice's Education and Training in Forensic Science Report (NCJ 203099, pgs 7–10).
Students greatly benefit from an internship, which enables them to apply their knowledge and capabilities, as well as experience a daily operational facility. The Program Director highly recommends students complete an internship at any time while in the Program. Students must apply for the internship directly and may not be selected, due to competition for limited internships. Students are assisted in applying for their internships in the Illinois State Police Crime Laboratory System, other federal laboratories located in Chicago, and local crime laboratories.
Note: Internships may require background checks similar to those listed above.