Forensic Scientist Skills for Your Resume (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 17 December 2022

Published 2 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Forensic scientists study crime scenes and provide evidence that can help solve crimes. Working with a police force, they analyse the crime scene and process useful evidence that can support a criminal investigation. A career in this field requires a variety of different skills, ranging from a scientific education to an enquiring mind. In this article, we discuss what type of forensic scientist skills are useful to add to your resume, provide examples of how to highlight them and show you how to boost your skills to improve your job prospects.

What are forensic scientist skills?

Forensic scientist skills are the type of abilities that professionals working in this field use. To assist law enforcement professionals, forensic scientists examine and evaluate potential evidence, such as strands of hair, fingerprints or traces of blood. This material helps investigators identify suspects and may go into the evidence for legal proceedings.

As a forensic scientist, you may work in laboratories alongside crime scene investigators and other law enforcement professionals. Coroners and morgues may also employ forensic scientists. Occasionally, forensic scientists testify as witnesses in criminal cases. Working in this field involves the following responsibilities:

  • attending and examining scenes of crimes

  • detecting and evaluating potential evidence from crime scenes

  • photographing the evidence along with where the crime took place

  • preserving and cataloguing evidence to transfer it to a laboratory

  • performing scientific analysis on pieces of evidence, including microscopic, chemical and biological, such as strands of hair, samples of body fluid, shards of glass and fragments of paint

  • collaborating with other specialists, such as odontologists and toxicologists

  • analysing and interpreting results and logging data into the computer

  • supervising the work of forensic technicians

  • attending court and giving evidence under cross-examination

Related: How to Become a Forensic Pathologist (6 Step Guide)

What qualifications do forensic scientists have?

People working in this career usually have a bachelor's degree in forensic science, or another science degree, such as:

  • biology

  • chemistry

  • physics

  • biochemistry

  • molecular biology

Some organisations may additionally ask for a master's degree, such as a Master of Forensic Psychology. Employers also look for forensic laboratory experience. Working in forensic science usually calls for on-the-job training with specialist instruction. There are a number of additional certifications you can study, including drug analysis, fingerprint work and paint analysis.

Related: How to Become a Forensic Investigator (With Duties and Skills)

Examples of forensic science skills

Forensic scientists usually possess a wide range of hard and soft skills to conduct scientific analysis and collaborate with other forensic professionals. In addition to a degree and good scientific experience, people working in this field may find the following skills useful:

Critical thinking and analysis

A primary part of a forensic scientist's job is their ability to conduct molecular, biological and chemical analysis of criminal evidence. Critical thinking and analytical skills are essential for this profession. When gathering evidence, they may question all potential outcomes to eliminate other scenarios before coming to a conclusion about criminal evidence. Forensic analysis methods may include:

  • pathology

  • odontology

  • structural engineering

  • anthropology

  • chromatography

Attention to detail

Forensic scientists are meticulous about collecting evidence and documenting this in a methodical way. Forensic technicians document minute pieces of evidence and their exact location at the crime scene. They catalogue evidence such as fragments of bullets that may be found in a nearby wall or door, traces of body fluids, tyre marks and footprints. They follow strict protocols and procedures while recording evidence.

Science and mathematics

Forensic scientists may use various scientific methods to pose and answer questions when working on a criminal investigation. They often use maths to perform calculations and to understand the facts of a crime. They may use numerical data to prove the evidence they collect at a crime scene.

Technical ability to use laboratory equipment and computers

Forensic scientists often work in laboratories and spend time working on computers. They use microscopes to examine the pieces of evidence they collect, such as fibres of clothing, shell casings and samples of body fluids. They use laboratory equipment to extract specific scientific evidence, such as DNA tests and input their findings into specialist computer databases.

Related: What Does a Computer Forensic Analyst Do? (With Skills)

Deductive reasoning skills

Forensic scientists gather an assortment of different pieces of evidence and then at the lab, analyse each one to form a picture of what they believe happened at the scene of the crime. They think about where the attacker was when the crime took place relative to the victim and answer questions about it.

They use deductive reasoning to put the evidence together and make an informed decision regarding the facts of a crime. Forensic scientists form a hypothesis and identify and analyse the evidence that either confirms or denies their theory. This helps them put forward reliable findings.

Related: Deductive Reasoning: Definition and Examples

Communication skills

As a forensic scientist, you communicate with many different people in the course of your investigation. Good speaking and listening skills are therefore essential. Forensic scientists may seek explanations from other professionals. For example, if they find a sample of handwriting, they may call on a handwriting analyst to look for clues in the text, or if they find ballistic evidence, they may speak to a forensic firearms expert.

They explain the evidence they uncover to detectives and investigators. In some cases, they may go to court and appear as a witness at a trial where they explain to the judge and jury how they collected the evidence and what it proves in the case.

Time management

Some pieces of evidence may be time-sensitive and it may be integral to solving the case that you collect this evidence before it deteriorates or disintegrates. Other professionals involved in an investigation may depend on your results to move forward with their work. Therefore, time management and the ability to adhere to a schedule are valuable abilities in this role.

Related: What Does a Forensic Psychologist Do? Definitions and FAQs

How to improve your forensic science skills

Gaining experience is a great way to perfect your professional skills. Here are some suggestions for improving your forensic scientist skills:

1. Complete professional certification

Speciality certificates provide up-to-date training, you can get certifications in different aspects of the science, such as fingerprint work or drug analysis. Regulatory and legislative requirements can apply to investigative work in some territories. It can be a good idea to check the relevant requirements with the regulatory body in your state.

2. Connect with experienced professionals

Establishing a good network of experienced professionals helps you learn from other people and this network can offer support and advice throughout your career. Networking can help you discover new insights into your career. Being in a group of professionals can also help you find opportunities for professional development or career advancement.

3. Improve your interpersonal communication skills

Since communication is an integral part of your role as a forensic scientist, it may be a good idea to attend public speaking classes while at university. If you've already graduated, you may find similar classes at a college or evening class. Alternatively, there are public speaking groups you can join to learn the craft of speaking confidently in front of others.

4. Join a professional organisation

By becoming a member of a professional body or forensic society, you can learn about the latest developments in the field, attend conferences and advance your career through awards and certificates of merit. The Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS) brings together people working in the profession and provides symposiums, events and meetings.

The Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences is another membership organisation that promotes research and publishes a journal.

Highlighting your forensic science skills on your resume

If you're applying for a position in the industry, you may consider highlighting your forensic science skills on your resume in the following way:

  • Begin with your strongest and most relevant competencies and abilities: You may list your education, degree and any postgraduate qualifications first. Then go on to list your recent work experience while on placement.

  • Create a separate document for your skills: You may benefit from creating a separate document to list all of your hard soft skills. This can allow you to select the skills that are most related to your prospective position.

  • Create a summary of your skills: You may consider adding a skills summary. For example, this may include strong interpretation of evidence and scientific results or expertise in using forensic laboratory equipment.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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