Forensic Scientist
Careers New Zealand
New Zealand
2d ago

Pay for forensic scientists varies depending on qualifications and experience.

  • Forensic scientists assisting crime investigations usually earn from $50,000 to $70,000 a year.
  • Senior forensic scientists with several years' experience can earn $90,000 or more.
  • Forensic scientists doing research can earn between $55,000 and $130,000.
  • Source : Human Resources, The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), 2017

    This information is a guide only. )

    What you will do

    Forensic scientists perform a wide range of tasks, which may include some or all of the following :

  • visit crime scenes to find evidence
  • take notes and draw sketches of crime scenes
  • analyse physical evidence such as fibres, glass, debris, firearms, bullets and marks made by tools or weapons
  • identify drugs found on people, in body fluids or at crime scenes
  • analyse biological evidence such as hair, blood and other body fluids
  • analyse body tissues for poisons
  • write reports on the results
  • give evidence in court
  • investigate civil court cases such as fire or insurance claims
  • train police staff in collecting evidence.
  • Skills and knowledge

    Forensic scientists need to have :

  • knowledge of the chemical make-up of things such as paint or textiles, blood, body tissues and DNA
  • knowledge of poisons and drugs, firearms and explosives
  • research skills
  • skill in analysing and interpreting research results and other information
  • practical skills for performing experiments and operating scientific equipment.
  • Forensic scientists :

  • usually work regular business hours, but may be required to visit crime scenes during evenings, weekends or public holidays when on call
  • work in laboratories and offices
  • often travel locally and around New Zealand to attend crime scenes and court cases
  • often work in stressful or hazardous conditions, as crime scenes may be distressing or potentially harmful.
  • Entry requirements

    To become a forensic scientist you need to have a minimum of a Bachelor of Science (BSc) majoring in an element of forensic science such as chemistry, biochemistry, biotechnology, medical laboratory science or molecular biology, depending on which area of forensics you want to specialise in.

    Strong competition for forensic science roles means that even with a BSc you will usually start out as a senior science technician.

    Chances of securing a scientist role are higher if you complete a postgraduate course such as a Masters or Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Science at Auckland or Otago University.

    These courses include practical components so you can gain applied experience in the field.

    Entry requirements for forensic positions in the police

    The New Zealand Police have a number of forensic roles for civilians, and roles where you first need to train as a police officer.

    Civilian forensic roles include fingerprint officers and crime scene analysts. There are different entry requirements for each specialisation, with most roles requiring a minimum of an undergraduate degree before being accepted into a structured career development programme.

    Secondary education

    A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include maths with statistics and calculus, biology, chemistry and English.

    Personal requirements

    Forensic scientists need to be :

  • good at problem solving
  • good at communicating, as they have to write reports and give evidence in court
  • good at maths
  • honest, responsible and able to keep information private
  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • able to work well under pressure.
  • Useful experience

    Useful experience for forensic scientists includes laboratory work, and work in the fields of medicine or chemistry.

    Physical requirements

    Forensic scientists must have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses).

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