Forensic Science – A Niche Vocational Career Option
If Sherlock Holmes andByomkeshBakshi are your role models, you just might be the right candidate to build a career in forensic science. So, let’s find out more about Forensic Science and see if it is the right career option for you.
What is Forensic Science?
The word Forensic is derived from a Latin word ‘Forensis’ which means to be present in a court or in public. Therefore, the field of Forensic Science relates tothe application of scientific methods and techniques to matters under investigation by a court of law.It is a vocational field that deals with the study of forensic evidence which plays a pivotal role in solving criminal cases and helping the judiciary deliver justice to victims.
What do Forensic Scientists do?
Going by the definition, a forensic scientist has to collect all the important and necessary evidence from a crime scene, preserve it, analyse it, and present it before a court of law. The evidence can be anything ranging from blood, body fluids, fingerprints, alcohol level in the body, hair, DNA, chemical evidence, explosives and many more.
However, with advancement of technology, the scope and function of a forensic scientist has also expanded over the years. Today, forensic scientists are not treated as mere ‘technicians’ who collect evidence, but they also play a critical role in investigation of a crime. They work closely with the police to produce scientific evidence that isadmissible in a court of law.
Top Courses & Eligibility
Being a niche study domain, the number of courses available in forensic science are relatively few. But, candidates interested in studying forensic science can take up the following courses:
• B.Sc in Forensic Science
o Eligibility: 10+2 in science stream
• M.Scin Forensic Science
o Eligibility: Graduate in Forensic Science
• Post Graduate Diploma in Forensic Science
o Eligibility: Graduate in Forensic Science
Short-term / Specialized Courses
• Specialised Course in Forensic Science
• Certificate Course in Forensic Science
• Diploma in Forensic Science
Top Forensic Science Colleges in India
Now that we know thedifferent types of courses available in the field of forensic science, it is also important to find out the colleges which offer them. Despite being a niche domain, many universities and specialized training institutes offer courses in forensic sciences. The key among them are:
- LNJN National Institute of Criminology & Forensic Science, New Delhi
- Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Institute of Forensic Science & Criminology, Bundelkhand University, Jhansi
- International Forensic Sciences - Education Department, Pune
- Amity Institute of Forensic Sciences, Noida
- Osmania University, Hyderabad
- Dr HarisinghGourVishwavidhyalaya, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh
- Gujarat Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar
Career Prospects in Forensic Science
Despite being a niche career domain, the opportunities available for forensic scientists and forensic specialists are quite lucrative. Thanks to the lack of fierce competition, the field offers attractive job openings with handsome pay in both, the government and the private sectors.
Government Sector: Different departments in the Government sector and law-enforcement agencies are the largest recruiters of forensic scientists in India. Students who have completed M.Sc in Forensic science are eligible to apply for different posts related to forensic science at the state or Central Forensic Science Laboratories. However, candidates must keep in mind that, on the basis of an M.Sc degree, only contractual employees are hired. To secure a permanent position, candidates have to appear for the UPSC exam and secure the necessary position with the CFSL. As part of their job roles, they can:
- Visit the crime scene forcollection of evidence
- Perform investigative analysis of the collected evidence
- Prepare FSL reports, which are admissible as evidence under Section 293 of CRPC
Private Sector: For forensic scientists, career opportunities in the private sector are limited, as compared to the ones available in the government sector. However, with the rise in crime rates, the demand for private or freelance forensic experts has also multiplied. Students can take up contractual work with private investigative agencies or as independent experts after completing their Diploma, Certificate, B.Sc or M.Sc in forensic science. At times, they are also hired as a private expert witnesses by courts. In terms of job responsibilities, they can only perform tasks such as:
- Handwriting & Signature Verification
- Cross-examination of the CFSL expert in different domains
- Prepare objection reports against FSL reports, admissible under Section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act.
The investigative tasks which they cannot perform include:
- Visit the crime scene with police for evidence collection
- Examine and Analyse evidence like Ballistics, DNA, Toxicology and others
Teaching: For candidates who are not really comfortable with investigation of crimes, teaching can be another interesting career option in forensic science. There are only a handful of institutes that offer academic programmes in forensic science; at the same time, the teachers and trainers who are expertsin this field are also limited. This makes teaching a lucrative career option in the field of forensic science. To become a teacher or professor in forensic science, you must complete your M.Sc followed by P.hD. You also need to clear the NET exam, after which universities offering academic programmes in forensic sciences can hire you.
Career in Teaching
- Ideal for people not comfortable with criminal investigation
- Less competition, more job opportunities
- Career path: 10+2 in Science àB.Sc in Pure / Forensic ScienceàM.Sc in Forensic Scienceà Clearing the NET examàHired by the University / Institute
Forensic Science Job Roles
Just like any other field of science, even forensic science has many job roles and profiles that need specialized knowledge. Students can pick the respective specialization during the academic programme and specialize in a particular skill and target the type of job role they want. The key job roles or profiles that are offered to forensic scientists in India are:
- Forensic Pathologists: Determine the time and cause of death in cases of murder or suicide.
- Forensic Anthropologists: Aid in the identification of individuals murdered or killed in disasters
- Forensic Psychologists: Assist a court or other fact finders in arriving at a just or correct decision
- Clinical Forensic Medicine Experts: Work as the examiner of victims of crime and suspects who may have sustained injuries while allegedly committing a crime and reach to specific conclusions pertinent to the crime and timing.
- Forensic Serology Experts: Analyze blood groups, blood, and other bodily fluids and perform DNA fingerprinting.
- Forensic Chemists: Help in the detection and identification of illicit drugs, accelerants used in arson cases, explosive and gunshot residues, trace evidence, including paint, glass, polymers and fibres, etc.
- Dactyloscopists: To study fingerprints received from the scene of crime and link them with suspects.
- Forensic linguists: These professionals analyse written or oral communication and identify criminals particularly in cases of kidnapping.
- Toxicologist: Help police in the detection and identification of pharmaceutical drugs and poisons, toxin levels, etc. in a body.
So, there you have it! Everything you need to know about a career in forensic science in India. To sum up, if investigation and laboratory work are of interest to you, a career in forensic science may very well be your life’s calling.
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