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Forensic Science Overview


For more information on careers in this field, see the list on the right. For salary ranges, schooling requirements and more, check out the Career Explorer.

Forensic science lies at the intersection of science and the law. The word “forensic” comes from the Latin word forensis, which means “to the forum” or with regard to debate or discussion.

Forensic scientists contribute to legal debates by applying scientific methods to the investigation of legal problems. Health care providers in this field include doctors, dentists and toxicologists. In many cases, they serve as frontline workers at the scene of a disaster or crime.

Interest in this fascinating field has exploded with the popularity of television series like “CSI” and “Bones.” Community colleges and four-year universities have responded by creating and expanding educational programs in forensic science. If you are interested in forensic science, make sure before enrolling in a program that the curriculum has been accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC).

Forensic scientists use chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics and even psychology to help protect people, serve justice and promote better public health. In addition to working with law enforcement to help solve crimes, forensic scientists investigate and collect data on employee drug use, doping by athletes and environmental contamination for public use.

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Note: The American Academy of Forensic Sciences reviewed this overview.