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Forensic Chemist Careers

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Forensic Chemist

The trunk of a stolen car smells of decomposed flesh, a pair of Converse high tops with tiny specs of blood spatter are all alone in the back seat of the same car, and a half smoked cigarette rests softly on a freshly mowed lawn next to the driveway. These are clues of a crime scene. Each clue adds up to the story of something terrible. A crime has taken place, and law enforcement is on the scene. Whether it is a detective, county Sheriff or the FBI, the investigators will rely on their forensic teams to link all the pieces of the puzzle that don’t quite fit yet. A Forensic Chemist can make them fit by scientifically analyzing the evidence. Chemistry, biology, materials science, and genetics to analyze clue found at the scene of the crime, on the victims or in the bodies of the bad guys.

Forensic Chemists go into a case with many unknow pieces of the crime scene they need to analyze to determine the nature of each sample. Most Forensic Chemists work in a lab. It is rare for private labs to do this kind of work so most of the time these labs are associated with Local, State, or Federal law enforcement agencies. From local Medical Examiner’s labs to state of the art FBI labs, Forensics Chemists often provide the strongest evidence in court against the defendants. They have many different types of test and methods they use to figure out what the samples mean. Each crime scene brings new types of clues and samples so a Forensic Chemist must always be thinking of ways to analyze the evidence. Some of the more common test for optical testing, X-ray spectroscopy, UV, and infrared. For separations analyses, HPLC, gas chromatography and thin-layer chromatography. In a typical day a Forensic Chemists could use as many different sciences such as chemistry, genetics, biology and Mass spectrometry.

Crime shows, novels and movies have made the field of Forensic Chemisty more popular. In the last few decades high profile court cases have made some Forensic Chemists world famous. The field of Forensic Chemist is getting more and more competitive.

When pursuing a career in forensic science a background in instrumental analysis, chemistry and criminalistics are good choices. An B.S. in forensic science or a natural science is needed to work in crime laboratories. Study in chemistry, mathematics, and biology are also crucial. To advance a career to a lab supervisor or manager would require a Master's degree and in some jobs a Ph.D. There are many specialties that can be studied, such as, blood, hairs, glass, trace evidence and gunshot residue. Other course work could included, instrumentation skills, geology, soil chemistry, and materials science. Specialists in DNA need to take, genetics, biochemistry and microbiology.
These bullet points are suggested skills by the ACS.org website.(American Chemical Society) for students looking to start a career in Forensic Chemistry.
Excellent experimental technique and a strong background in instrumentation and quantitative/qualitative analysis are the main technical skills used in this field
Being detail oriented is crucial for a forensic scientist, since the slightest detail can make a huge difference in the interpretation of a sample
Critical thinking skills and problem solving skills are required to interpret the results of chemical tests and help determine exactly what happened at the crime scene
Forensic scientists often have to explain their findings to other law enforcement officers or provide expert testimony in a court of law, so excellent oral communication skills—even under duress—are required
Written communication skills are required for preparation of detailed reports that will stand up to intense scrutiny by both sides of the law

Salary’s for a Forensic Chemist as posted for the DEA and taken from the www.drugenforcementedu.org website.
DEA Forensic Chemist Salary: “The DEA places a premium on the skills of highly qualified chemists and compensates them handsomely. In a recent job posting, an entering forensic chemist could expect a salary commensurate with a GS-11 pay grade or $62,909.00 to $81,779.00 in annual salary. These careers have a promotion potential up to GS-13, which has an annual salary between $71,674 and $93,175. This amount may be adjusted for cost of living, availability and hazards.”
Forensic Chemistry has had a bigger and bigger impact on society as science gets more and more advanced. Forensic Chemistry has helped to solve old cold cases that were unsolvable until modern science uncovered clues that went unknown for decades. On the flip side, wrongfully accused and convicted men and women have been exonerated based on new evidence to clear them of the crime. Some having spent decades behind bars. It seems that everyday in the news, crimes are solved based on how much of the science can be analyzed. Science in many ways is stronger evidence in court than eye witness and law enforcement version of the facts. Most recently there have been many high profile cases of alleged police misconduct. In the past a police officers testimony held more weight in court than any other party. Now with the growing number of case where the science is not in line with the testimony of law enforcement we are seeing a change in how cities and towns manage their law enforcement departments. Video and science together are pushing the transparency level of law enforcement to a place they could never reach. Forensic Chemistry is making to tougher on criminals, helping the innocent and raising the standards of law enforcement. As science pushes forward, Forensic Chemistry will evolve and grow as new ways to analyze crime become available. We will see the impact of Forensic Chemist’s work on society grow along with it.

www.crimelabproject.wordpress.com http://www.acs.org www.chemistryexplained.com

www.drugenforcementedu.org

www.academicinvest.com…...

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