Choosing a Career

So You Want to Be a Forensic Scientist!

Below is a guide to the many possibilities for satisfying life choices of careers combining science and service in the interests of society, justice, and public safety.

If you have additional questions regarding choosing a career, forensic science in general, or membership with AAFS, please contact: [email protected].

Download a PDF version of the Career Brochure HERE.


What is Forensic Science?

The word forensic comes from the Latin word forensis: public; to the forum or public discussion; argumentative, rhetorical, belonging to debate or discussion.

What Do Forensic Scientists Do?

The forensic sciences form a vital part of the entire justice and ­regulatory system. The forensic scientist’s goal is the ­evenhanded use of all available information to determine the facts and, subsequently, the truth. Because of the work of a forensic scientist is intended to be used in court and because scientific evidence can be very powerful, the forensic scientist must be accurate, methodical, detailed, and above all, unbiased.

What's a Forensic Scientist?

A forensic scientist is first a scientist. When a scientist’s knowledge is used to help lawyers, juries, and judges understand the results of scientific tests, the scientist becomes a forensic scientist.

Types of Forensic Science: Discipline Sections Within the American Academy of Forensic Sciences

The American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the largest forensic science organization in the world, is composed of over 7,000 scientists organized into 11 sections representing the different areas of interest, activity, education, and expertise of individual members. The 11 AAFS disciplines are:



Psychiatry & Behavioral Science



Questioned Documents

Digital & Multimedia Sciences



Engineering & Applied Sciences


For more detailed information about each discipline, download a PDF version of the Career Brochure HERE.

How Do I Become a Forensic Scientist?

You will need a bachelors degree (possibly an advanced degree), good note-taking and observation skills, and intellectual curiosity.

How Much Money Will I Make?

Income in the forensic sciences varies greatly depending upon your degree, your actual job, where you work, and how many hours you work. Every branch or forensic science offers opportunity for ­personal growth, career advancement, and increasing financial ­compensation.

Where Will I Work?

Forensic scientists may work for federal, state, and local governments; international organizations; public and private laboratories; medical examiners offices; hospitals; universities; law firms; police departments; or as independent forensic science consultants.


Web links: See more resources HERE.

For information about the folks who brought you this information, the Forensic Sciences Foundation, Incorporated, click HERE.

Please direct all questions/comments to the AAFS Office at [email protected].

For a list of colleges and universities who offer both undergraduate and graduate programs in forensic science within the United States as well as internationally, click HERE.

Information Produced for the American Academy of Forensic Sciences by:

The Forensic Sciences Foundation, Inc.
410 N. 21st Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
(719) 636-1100
Fax (719) 636-1993
Betty Layne DesPortes, JD, Chair, Board of Trustees
Anne Warren, BS, Executive Director

Gil Brogdon, MD
Carla Noziglia, MS

The Forensic Sciences Foundation, Inc., is a non-profit tax exempt organization under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Copyright © 1996-2015 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

American Academy of Forensic Sciences

410 N 21st St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904

(719) 636-1100

©2021 American Academy of Forensic Sciences