Environmental Scientist degree

June 27, 2016
EVS Program : Environmental

Forensic science is the application of science to legal cases. Forensic science technicians help investigate crimes by collecting and analyzing physical evidence. Environmental forensic science applies scientific methods to the investigation of environmental crimes and contamination events.

Forensic scientists use their skill and knowledge of chemistry and geology to study contamination events and determine their origins. They may collect samples on-site, analyze the samples in the laboratory, and assess the geology of a particular site to determine how chemical contaminants may have migrated through the environment. They may testify in court about their findings.

What Does a Forensic Scientist Do?

While there are different types of forensic scientists, most of them perform many of the same duties, like using chemical methods to test evidence taken from crime scenes in the laboratory. They must be detail-oriented, keeping records and writing reports on their techniques and findings. Some may collect samples from the scene themselves, cataloging the evidence and following established procedures to store and preserve it correctly. Environmental forensic scientists may also examine the geology and hydrology (water features and flow) of contaminated sites and surrounding areas to determine how pollutants have traveled through them, and where they came from.

While this career is science-based, communication skills are also very important. Forensic scientists must write reports of their findings and be able to explain their reports to lawyers. They may also be called upon in court to explain the investigative process in detail, including which samples were tested, how they were tested, the reliability of those tests, what the results were, and why they're relevant.

Environmental forensic scientists are valuable professionals who help protect public health and the environment. Unfortunately, the environment is subject to the "tragedy of the commons", and contamination is often seen as "collateral damage" - the price paid for civilization. Forensic scientists help ensure that those who contaminate the environment illegally are discovered and brought to justice. They may also save taxpayers cleanup dollars by identifying who should be legally responsible for cleanup costs.

Where Does a Forensic Scientist Work?

Most forensic scientists work in federal, state, and local governments. Environmental forensic scientists may have to work outside when collecting samples in the field or assessing the geology of a contaminated site. Travel to sites under investigation may be required. Forensic scientists also spend much of their time in laboratories. They may need to wear safety equipment when working in the field or in laboratories to avoid exposure to environmental toxins. They usually work a standard work week, though regular forensic scientists who work on violent crimes for local police departments may work longer hours or be "on call".

What Is the Average Forensic Scientist Salary?

The median annual wage for forensic science technicians overall was $52, 840 as of May 2012.

State Total Employment Bottom 25% Median Salary Top 75%
Alabama 70 $33, 390 $41, 070 $47, 010
Arizona 870 $42, 100 $52, 390 $66, 980
Arkansas 140 $31, 090 $38, 320 $42, 660
California 1, 990 $57, 000 $73, 490 $90, 470
Colorado 280 $49, 790 $58, 380 $69, 860
Connecticut 100 $53, 110 $68, 140 $83, 240
District of Columbia 290 $56, 700 $69, 670 $83, 960
Florida 1, 470 $35, 220 $42, 710 $55, 870
Georgia 470 $24, 520 $26, 990 $36, 660
Hawaii $43, 470 $49, 470 $61, 160
Idaho 90 $36, 400 $46, 420 $57, 210
Illinois 490 $59, 960 $81, 830 $97, 930
Indiana 270 $45, 100 $58, 280 $64, 760
Iowa $51, 130 $58, 990 $79, 310
Kentucky 50 $35, 370 $40, 700 $45, 660
Louisiana $35, 690 $43, 190 $56, 810
Maine 40 $35, 870 $42, 630 $53, 700
Maryland 660 $49, 200 $62, 260 $75, 860
Massachusetts $63, 370 $70, 350 $78, 910
Michigan 180 $47, 670 $60, 620 $68, 290
Minnesota $45, 170 $52, 550 $58, 220
Mississippi $44, 220 $52, 190 $65, 150
Missouri $35, 750 $45, 910 $56, 770
Montana 30 $46, 250 $57, 240 $65, 890
Nebraska $40, 680 $47, 410 $57, 580
Nevada 190 $51, 170 $60, 530 $81, 640
New Jersey $48, 500 $54, 260 $64, 120
New Mexico 80 $43, 790 $54, 020 $64, 160
New York 600 $50, 270 $61, 690 $73, 070
North Carolina 330 $35, 010 $41, 550 $50, 700
Ohio 340 $44, 350 $52, 100 $68, 280
Oklahoma 200 $49, 690 $64, 920 $71, 060
Oregon $50, 180 $59, 000 $70, 150
South Carolina $33, 100 $40, 310 $51, 150
Tennessee 250 $35, 130 $43, 850 $54, 590
Texas 990 $35, 200 $43, 370 $56, 130
Utah $39, 970 $47, 290 $57, 130
Virginia 390 $46, 960 $68, 410 $81, 550
Washington $40, 920 $56, 750 $69, 330
West Virginia 150 $30, 940 $40, 320 $53, 120
Wisconsin $41, 040 $57, 100 $68, 560
Wyoming $43, 070 $64, 950 $73, 650

Table data taken from BLS (

Environmental Forensic Science Jobs

Forensic scientists gather information and evidence about a specific set of past events and then use this data in a judicial court to determine innocence or guilt under the law. Forensic scientists are often employed by the criminal branch of the legal system in order to ensure that their ethics on a case are above reproach. While jobs do vary between financial forensics, IT forensics, and crime scene forensics, the tasks listed below are common to all roles:
  • Record accurate physical and chronological measurements
  • Observe, diagram, photograph, screen capture, and record evidence with the intent of preserving it in its raw and untampered state
  • Apply the scientific method to the situation at hand, regardless of biased influences
  • Design experiments to generate and test hypotheses
  • Collect and secure evidence in a professional manner
  • Have a deep understanding of the degradation of evidence due to time and tampering
  • Have a broad knowledge of all peripheral sciences like chemistry, toxicology, serology, physical science, anatomy, dental science, and others as they apply to the current situation
  • Analyze and present data in courts of law and discoveries
  • Create infographs and reports for data presentation
  • Understand how to effectively and accurately use statistics for communication and testing
  • Use standard and proprietary computer programs and hardware with proficiency
  • Test, analyze, and report on samples
  • Be a strong communicator. Skills must include writing reports, offering verbal and written testimony, and making presentations
  • Review leading edge research and literature
  • Translate complex scientific evidence for specific audiences
Source: www.environmentalscience.org
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