How to Choose a Forensics Career

The term forensic is applied to many professions. The dictionary defines the term as, “The use of science and technology to investigate and establish facts in criminal or civil courts of law.” Developments in both technology and courtroom rules of evidence have led to forensic specialists in a number of fields. This article describes some of those professions as well as touching on both the education and experience required to work in them.

  • Forensic science technicians are the guys in the crime lab. They are often involved in the accumulation of evidence from a crime scene and then analyzing it with sophisticated microscopes and other analytical tools. They take copious notes of their work and are expected to testify in court against alleged perpetrators. Some specialize in areas such as DNA evidence, firearms, fiber, hair, or tissue samples. Forensic technicians usually hold a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related field.
  • Forensic accountants work for investigatory agencies such as the Secret Service that trace the illegal movement of ill gotten gains. These professionals will reconstruct the movement of laundered funds through bank accounts and across borders, are involved in credit card fraud cases and generally provide support to law enforcement officials confronted with sophisticated financial crime. This job requires a degree in finance or accounting, or business with an emphasis on accounting.
  • Forensic nurses are RNs who originally developed their specialty working in emergency units and triaging patients who had been abused. Their records and testimony would be used against the alleged abuser. The profession has expanded into the role of medical expert. Many forensic nurses now consult with law firms that have personal injury suits, developing the appropriate medical evidence for a case. A forensic nurse needs to be an RN, preferably with a bachelor’s degree or better, and several years of experience that includes work in the ER or with patients with trauma injuries.
  • Computer forensic specialists analyze computer equipment and data in order to develop evidence in an investigation. Typically they have the technical knowledge to They determine the details of intrusions into computer systems, recover data from encrypted or erased files, and recover e-mails and deleted passwords. Some computer experts stumble into this kind of work, but a person who is set on a career in the field needs a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information management or a field that is closely related to both data management and computer technology.

The common thread running through these professions is the fact that a person working in any one of them may well wind up in a courtroom, acting as an expert witness. Because they need to express themselves well and prepare detailed reports, forensics specialists in all of these fields hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

Modern Audio Forensics

Forensic audio deals in the scientific and professional investigation (including the technology and tools used) to determine the authenticity of sound where it pertains to criminal cases, as well civil court cases. Based on audio forensics, the results turned up during investigation can be used as evidence in criminal and civil cases that deal with anything from family and neighbor disputes, divorce, extortion and even industrial espionage.

Audio forensics have been used in virtually every case involving a wiretap or recorded conversation that was used in a trial – and that includes the common analysis of surveillance tapes in work environments, particular with disputes between employers and employees.

The Roots of Forensic audio

Before audio forensics was widely used in the professional world and by law enforcement agencies, the practice was focused mainly among the United States government. Linguistics experts and those versed in studying audio would utilize technology during World War II to dissect and analyze the voice patterns of enemies via radio and telephone.

During World War II, specialists utilized a spectrograph to plot the frequencies and amplitudes of voice patterns. This practice made it easier to identify individuals of interest and monitor frequencies for important broadcasts or intelligence.

Now, these same practices are used with more advanced technology to identify terrorist subjects, reveal their location and discern when the audio was created along with other pertinent factors.

Digging into Audio Forensics

Those analyzing audio don’t just listen to speech. Every noise must be carefully considered with audio files because it could be relevant to the overall recording, encounter, etc. Some of the factors that are commonly evaluated by audio forensic specialists include

  • Changes in voice frequency
  • Noises emanating from recording devices or other machines
  • Background noise and natural artifacts
  • Unnatural artifacts
  • Pause signatures as well as start and stop points

These are all important points because unnatural noises or an inconsistency in noise patterns could mean the audio was compromised, or that it’s not authentic. There are also factors considered when audio forensics specialists have to identify multiple speakers in meetings where voices carry over one another. Some of the factors they analyze include

  • Pitch
  • Breath patterns
  • Nasal Resonance
  • Vowel formation

Audio Forensics and Law Enforcement Transcription

In many cases, law enforcement agencies call upon audio forensic specialists not only to study and dissect recorded audio, but also to provide transcription services. Simply providing a report of the data is not enough in all cases. To be admissible as evidence, a certified transcript of the entire audio recording is required for review.

This can be an exceptional amount of work. Unlike other forms of transcription where only the voice is recorded, law enforcement transcription sometimes requires every sound and artifact to be documented and transcribed. This includes voices, doors opening and closing, chairs scraping across floor, rustling, sighing, lip smacking, papers being shuffled, etc.

Each one of these noises could provide insight into an interrogation, meeting, or encounter that may not typically be picked up by the untrained ear. Detection of these noises, as well as discontinuities in other types of recordings can be difficult, but certainly not impossible for those who specialize in audio forensics.

How to Go About With a Reliable Online Forensic Science Degree

With the advancement of science and technology in the recent years the forensic science field has advanced towards a higher level and today plays a vital role in providing evidence for legal proceedings. This field of study is a popular career choice among people and with the help of technology many professional and non-traditional students are opting for dependable online forensic science degree programs which can easily cope up with their busy and rigid schedule.

If you too are in search of a reliable online forensic science degree but are not sure how to go about with it, carry out the following steps and gain access to a certified degree in no time.

Forensic Science Degree Options

Undergraduate Degree: A bachelor’s online forensic science degree combines the different studies of law, criminology and chemistry. It takes about 4 years to complete this program online in which it focuses on different techniques and skills used in forensic labs. Students entering into the forensic study should first apply for an undergraduate degree.

Graduate Degree: This degree program can be only pursued by students who already have a bachelor’s online forensic science degree in hand. The area of study depends on the specialty you choose and the length of the program depends on how fast you acquire the needed credit hours.

Forensic Science Concentrations

Another important step is to choose a specialty which determines the base for your future career. There are various specializations you can choose from, the most popular ones have been discussed below:

Criminalities

If you choose this concentration your job will be to seek out the truth about different cases by studying physical elements and applying scientific methods to your research. This all is done to rectify which evidence is true and which is false.

Pathology

Forensic pathologists identify diseases which are extracted through autopsies. Through this procedure they point out the cause of death and decide whether it was through suicide, natural occurrence, homicide etc.

Toxicology

The role of a toxicologists is to classify the role that poison, chemicals and drugs play in legal cases. They find the administration, affect, elimination and absorption of these toxics through which they give relevant information for solving the case.

Notable Online Schools

All the schools mentioned here below are regionally accredited and offer skilled online forensic science degree programs. You can choose any of these affordable and flexible institutes to earn your degree:

  • American InterContinental University
  • Ashford University
  • Kaplan University