A criminalist has a very important job in the forensic science field. It’s extremely important that they have investigative skills and practical experience to do their job correctly. A criminalist’s main job is to separate important evidence from trivial evidence that has little to no value to the case. A mistake could cost someone their freedom or it could let a bad guy go loose. Using scientific methods taught in the classroom and through hands-on training, the criminalist identifies, sorts, and compares evidence in a way that will be useful to the trial or investigation. Interpreting the evidence and results of tests are also very important duties of a criminalist. Accurate interpretations of evidence and test results help identify the circumstances at the time a crime was committed, and could possibly reinforce eyewitness statements.
In order to become a criminalist, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree in the physical, biological or forensic sciences. Applicants must also complete a minimum of 24 semester hours of either biology or chemistry, and math. Unlike other professions, the courses are more you take during college are more important than the title of the degree given to you once you graduate. Continuing education is also a major part of a criminalists’ education, as they are required to stay updated on new scientific advancements.
Licensure is also not required to pursue a career as a criminalist. However, the majority of persons in this profession do choose to become certified by the American Board of Criminalistics. Occasionally, one might find employment in a forensic laboratory that is accredited by the board or other organizations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘experienced’ criminalists earn annual salaries between $35,000 and $50,000. But it depends on other factors other than experience. Yes, experience plays a major role in anyone’s salary, however, when it comes to criminalists other things factor in such as:
- Employer (federal agencies tend to pay higher on average)
- Location (large cities tend to have higher crime rates, which means more work)
- Education Level, Certification
- Position in Company (supervisor, management positions pay higher)
Criminalists working in the right position for the right agency, with the right education and credentials can earn over $100,000 per year if wanted. Generally, this is rare as criminalist positions are hard to get, especially for new graduates. However, it is something to work towards.
To learn more about a career in Criminalistics, please click on one of the titles below.
Criminalistics Degree – Criminalists need to understand that it’s the courses they take rather than the degree title they earn in this field. What you learn in your classrooms proves to be worthy of having a successful career as a criminalist. Learn about the various degrees you can earn, and more importantly, which courses you should focus on while earning that degree.
Criminalist Salary – Even though criminalists are not the highest paid among the forensic science professions, they have one of the most important jobs. Learn what it takes to earn more than your peers in this competitive profession.