Forensic Biologist

Forensic biologists evaluate bones, tissues, body fluids, blood and any other biological specimens found at crime scenes.

Utilizing sophisticated field and laboratory technology, forensic biologists gather and examine biological evidence left on surfaces, weapons, furniture, and clothes to estimate how and when a victim died.

They maintain detailed records and prepare reports. Forensic biologists must be detail-oriented since one mistake can make evidence inadmissible in court. Forensic biologists are frequently required to testify at trials as expert witnesses.

Forensic biologists typically also possess expertise in:

  • DNA analysis
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Forensic pathology
  • Forensic entomology
  • Forensic botany
  • Biological chemistry

Many forensic biologists are assigned to investigate environmental catastrophes, such as oil and toxic chemical spills.

Working Conditions

Collecting and examining biological material, such as blood and other body fluids, is often unpleasant, smelly, and messy.

Field work can be dirty. Forensic biologists assigned to crime scenes are required to collect plants, bugs, and other biological specimens, including decomposing human remains. They're often required to sift through garbage and mud when collecting biological specimens.

Forensic biologists assigned to laboratories examine collected evidence utilizing sophisticated microscopes. They're responsible for photographing and labeling evidence, conducting DNA analyses, and examining other samples.

Forensic biology is often repetitive and uninteresting, but participating in investigations that lead to criminal convictions and help families find closure is very rewarding.

Career Training and Education

Forensic biologists typically hold bachelor's degrees in forensic, general, and molecular biology, biochemistry, and other scientific majors. They must complete laboratory work and classes in organic chemistry, biostatistics, math, physics, and genetics while undergraduate students.

Most laboratories only hire forensic biologists with master's degrees. Those with graduate degrees typically have better job prospects and earning potential.

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