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    • Thread Starter

    Hi, I am a 34 year old graduate considering a career change. I have always been interested in forensics and have completed online courses but this is my only experience so far. I work in project management at the moment.

    I have a few questions:

    1. Am I too old now? I understand forensics in general is competitive and I'd be 40 at least when finished training. Is that going to make it even harder to find work?
    2. I have read that forensic science degrees are a bit of a 'fad' and that a preferable route would be a Chemistry degree, is this the case?
    3. Will I need a PhD to have any chance of finding work?

    I am at the very early stages of investigation into this so not sure which direction I would want to go down in the field, and am really just trying to figure out if it's even worth considering at this stage in my life, so any general advice would be gratefully received.
    • Community Assistant

    Community Assistant
    My understanding is thus:

    1. No, as it's illegal for prospective employers to discriminate on the basis of age. However the work is very process based as I understand - unlike it's portrayal in popular media, there is no "interpretation" done by forensic scientists. You merely undertake the processes and, where necessary, relate the data obtained from these in court (which is less likely anyway). This may be less fulfilling to you than your current position - something to consider. Also, due to it being more process based, they are less likely to be paying more for "higher level analytical skills" or whatever it is HR managers write about.

    2. Yes, unless you wish to work in human remains identification/analysis in which case Human Sciences/Archaeology/Biological Anthropology/Anatomy would be preferable. Forensic scientists have been around a reasonably longer than all the "CSI degrees" which popped up after the popularity of the eponymous TV series. A Forensic Science degree doesn't allow you to do anything a Chemistry (or in some cases, bioscience) degree would, and in fact allows you to a whole lot less than those to boot, if you wanted to have something of a career change. This is in terms of undergrad degrees only - it's possible a first degree in Chemistry/etc then a masters in Forensic Science may be appropriate/useful, although as I understand a higher degree isn't really necessary so I question whether it is in fact a better use of a year and £10k+.

    3. No, as above, the bulk of "forensic science" work is just doing basic experimental procedures while adhering to very stringent quality control metrics, and recording the data. Again, there may be an exception for human remains analysis as it's something of a different field (although it overlaps in many ways) - here a PhD may be useful, although you'd probably end up doing one incidentally en route to this role (rather than as a means to an end). Relating to above, I highly doubt there are any "Forensic Science PhDs", although you could certainly do a PhD in Chemistry/biosciences as above relevant to the field. However it's more likely you would be doing work not directly linked to the field, and it would more be the case that processes you use (or innovate) would be useful in that field.

    If you wanted to work as, say, a SOCO (although I have a feeling that role is called something else now, and is somewhat reduced from what it was), then getting a degree in anything then joining the police service and working your way to that would I presume be the ideal route. I'm not sure if there are other routes however, and this may be a longer process than you would like - however in the case above, a Forensic Science degree would be just as useful as a Chemistry degree, or any other.

    However, I haven't spent a great deal of time researching this recently, as a lot of the above was what I discovered ~8-10 years ago when I ended up pursuing a different route as a result. So, some of that may be inaccurate or it may have changed (if anything it's probably more "competitive" these days with the stranglehold on public service funding by the current government - while I understand most such work is "contracted" out to private companies, they still need to pay them to do the analysis and if a specific service is unable to justify the costs...).

    I would also clarify this is intended to be negative or convincing you not to go into that direction (which I appreciate it may come across as). This is just one perspective, which as above may be out of date and/or inaccurate otherwise. However these are some specific things I noted some years previously which you may want to research specifically (and when you're researching things generally the more specific your question the better information you're able to find, particularly with the "content aggregation" model of contemporary web resources/search engines diluting things greatly these days :/ )
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