Choosing the major that you want to spend your whole life working in is very hard, especially with the variety of majors and the different branches that one major is now divided into. As a teenager applying to university you get confused between the real life job and the ones you see on TV or on your phone, and this brings us to this edition’s orientation “Forensic Sciences”. Many of us have dreamt of becoming one of those agents we see, solving cases and figuring who the murderer is. But what’s it truly in the everyday life?
First we might encounter confusion between Criminology and Criminalistics AKA Forensic Sciences.
Criminology is the study of the crime and how to prevent it as well as criminal behavior and treatments. Those majoring in it focus mainly on the criminal justice system and on the ways to deal with crimes and their causes, which implies doing lot of social research.
Criminalistics is the application of the scientific principles to support evidence in the cases. The student of this major learns how to collect evidence from crime scenes, prove the cause(s) of the accident(s) and test the crime scene evidence in the labs. The general course topics they will encounter in their curricula are: scene investigation, drug analysis, physics, organic chemistry, criminal procedures, and the country’s criminal justice system.
The career path that you can engage in are numerous and include medical examiners offices, police departments, crime labs, private institutions (ex: insurances) and hospitals analysts.
Even if you have graduated from school and you are studying law, you can apply for a master’s degree in forensics that will help you becoming competent lawyers that can engage in the crime scene investigations and in the rehabilitation of criminals in general and prisoners in particular.
If you are a non-lawyer graduate but still want to get into this field, you can apply for the master’s degree and become an assistant to the criminal judges/lawyers, to assess a defendant criminological threat, assist medical examiners to participate in operating the medico-legal autopsies and also assist medical experts in court for the defendant’s or victim’s mental health. You can also assist psychologists and psychiatrists or sexologists to study the defendant’s or the victim’s mental/physical health. Furthermore, you can be an activist in non-governmental organizations that fight violence, sexual harassment, abuse, etc…
You can also be a biology or biochemistry student and opt for Forensic sciences when it comes to your Master’s degree, in order to be a forensics laboratory scientist in the department of molecular diagnosis for the inherited, infectious and transmitted diseases.
In Lebanon this major is still fresh. You can apply for a BS only at the American University of Science and Technology. A master’s degree is still unavailable. You can complete your studies and dive in the forensics world as master degrees are available at the Lebanese University and “Université Saint Esprit Kaslik”.
The Bachelor degree (BA) needs a three years’ curriculum and the Master’s degree (MA) needs two years.
This major requires a lot of precision and critical thinking, because the justice lays in the hands of the forensic scientist. It demands a lot if ethics, any mishandled evidence can change the whole path of the case. It’s a must that the person in this field likes adrenaline rush, and is not scarred off easily. You will be facing many daring and challenging situations, especially in ongoing investigations.
There are also many drawbacks when it comes to being a Forensic Scientist
You can be exposed to harmful chemicals, may need to work on disturbing legal cases and might be subjected to pressure to present accurate, detailed analysis for legal decisions in short time.
Extensive experience and membership in professional organizations may be required to become an expert court witness.
If you get an office job in the police department in this field, you’ll feel at first that it’s very comfortable until you get your first case. Until you finish the case and solve, your time is not yours: it’s the victim’s time.
To sum it up, forensic science is the application of different types of sciences under law terms. You have to be a good investigator, with an open mind and a good scientist to be able to be a good forensic scientist. The Forensic scientist is taught to think objectively, in a very particular way and to apply the scientific studies into the criminal case, i.e. into real life situation.
You have to think things very carefully, taking into consideration all points of view and the criminal behavior. Sometimes the victim was actually a weak attacker and got to himself what he wanted for others. For that if you want to get into this field you should be ready to detach yourself from personal beliefs and emotions thus focusing all your hard work to successfully in bringing the truth.
At the end of the day, you will get a very good feeling when you do a really good job helping in court, on a case, after an accident or in the lab, making sure no one is accused falsely of a felony.