I am a recent grad with a degree in forensic science.
It seems like it is hard to obtain a job in this field.
How long did it take you to get a job in this field?
How did you get your first job, did you volunteer? Have a masters? Etc.
If you did not get a job in forensics, what field did you end up getting into?
It took me 4 1/2 years out of college to get my forensics job. I have a B.A. in Criminal Justice with specialization in Criminalistics that I received in 2008. Six months prior to graduation I began applying to positions, which began as local but ended up being anywhere I could find that I was remotely qualified for. I applied to over 250 positions and spent thousands traveling for tests and interviews. In the process I began taking graduate-level courses to defer my student loans, which got me a M.S. in Criminal Justice with specialization in Forensic Science in 2012. My GPAs were 3.9 and 4.0, respectively, but I lacked experience and any intern or volunteer work. On my first crime scene job, I tested and interviewed, placing 5th. Over a year later the agency had gone down the list, which usually would never happen, and I got my offer. I moved across the country and was there for about a year and a half. With a little experience I was much more marketable, which led to the position at my current agency--across the country once again.
I'm not saying any of this to discourage you; I'm just stating my experience. If I could do it again, I'd change my major to something science-based, so I think you're way ahead already in that regard. Additionally, although I wasn't able to because I needed to work full-time, I'd try harder to intern or volunteer. The field is awesome, though, and I'm glad I didn't give up. Additionally, once you get in and can show your aptitude and work ethic, you'll know it was worth it too. Best of luck.
After high school, I first went to college to become a paramedic. I never finished that education due to other more important issues requiring me to drop out. Two years later, I decided to start my education in Criminal Investigations. I got a 2 year (AAS) in Criminal Justice - just the basic intro to CJ stuff. Then I continued on for my B-Tech in Criminal Investigations (2 more years of school). These were more hands on classes like Interviewing techniques, Fingerprint Lifting and Classification, Clandestine Graves, Photography, Questioned Documents, etc. My last semester was a 600 hour internship. I did this in a very busy Maryland department. I got tons of experience (at least I thought I did). I was allowed to process scenes on my own for the last month and a half I was there. I started applying before my internship began, so, December 2011. I applied to at least 85 agencies cross country, including the one I was interning at. No interviews, none at all. I got tons of rejection letters saying I didn't have enough experience. My education seemed very interesting, but it didn't give me enough field training. Hearing this from the department I was interning from was especially frustrating because, hey, I worked for free for you full time for six months and you won't hire me?!?
Eventually I got that one phone call for an interview. Luckily, they let me interview through Skype because I was halfway across the country. Then a few weeks later, I got a very thick packet in the mail. Background check stuff. I handed out copies to my employer, family, friends, teachers, even sent one back to my supervisor from my internship, who wrote me a very nice recommendation letter. Then I had to actually drive out to the department (a 26 hour drive!) for my polygraph and final interview (the first interview dropped the list from 75 to 4). Then I got a phone call from another department (much closer to home) for an interview.
Three weeks later I got a phone call. I had 10 days to decide to take the job and pick up and move. And let me tell you, I honestly debated a good long while. This was the first interview I had, first job offer in my field. I had to take it. But could I really leave my family, friends, boyfriend? Ten days later I was in the mid-west settling into my new apartment. Luckily, I took this job because the second one, the closer one, didn't offer me a job.
1 year 9 months 27 days after I started applying, I was finally working as a CSI.
I'm only planning on staying here until I can say I have enough experience to be more "likable" to other agencies and be able to move back to the east coast, but shhh ... don't tell my boss that!
It's a very tough field to get into, you just need to be persistent and fight for it. And be willing to move if necessary. I'm on here quite frequently if you have more questions.
My journey is different from most. After High School I went into the Military where I served overseas as a Military Police Officer. Once out of the service I attended a school locally while working as a 911 Dispatcher. Being on the inside of an organization is huge. As a Crime Scene / Evidence Tech you will be working with alot of high liability items from money, drugs, guns, etc. By already being an employee they know you and your work ethic. Part of the reason getting a job in this field is so hard is because they are taking a gamble on you by hiring from the outside. Also from the inside you already know the people that will be doing the hiring for your future position. By getting to know them, they know you are interested in working with them. After I would get off work I would volunteer with them. When openings happen in Government, they almost always post these jobs three days internally before going outside. So as a Dispatcher, I had a head start on openings in the Evidence Unit. Also it is most Organizations policy that if an internal employee applies, at a minimum you are given the chance to interview for that position. First opening that came up I did not get it....but rightfully so as the person that did get it had a boatload more experience then I did. Next time there was an opening I was picked up for the position...and the rest is history. I have been with my agency now over 20 years....and plan on staying another 20 more. :) My advise is break that barrier. Volunteer. Intern. Go through there Citizens Police Academy. Whatever you can do to get your name out there with the agency you want to work for.....so when that coveted opening does come available....they know who you are.
I also think being involved in organizations will help you with network opportunities. Check out the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute. It is not a college per se but it is an organization that certifies people in the forensic field. The phone number is 800-423-9731, ask for Shellie.