Often when we think of forensic science, we think of the Crime Scene Investigators we see on popular TV shows. These shows tend to be a conglomeration of many different fields of forensic science, such as DNA Analyst, bloodstain analyst, toxicologist, and medical examiner. In many ways, the actual field of forensic science is more exciting and engaging than what television portrays, because of the wide variety of career options and specialized fields of study. Forensic science programs go from certification programs all the way to doctorate degrees, and many of these degrees and certification programs are offered by schools as online programs. The main advantage of enrolling in an online program is that it typically gives you a very flexible schedule that allows you to get your degree while maintaining another career.
Typically, if you are pursuing a career specifically in forensic science, the certification programs and associate degrees are not a good choice for you, at least initially. Most employers require at least a bachelor degree for entry level positions. Certification programs usually take about a year to complete and are useful for those who already have a bachelor degree in some field and desire to gain some knowledge of forensic science to enhance their current career. The certificate programs usually include some courses in natural science and criminal justice, and are often taken by nurses and doctors who wish to use forensic science in their practice, or by police officers or detectives to enhance their current career path. Those who already have a bachelor degree in forensic science might also be required to gain certain certifications in order to practice in their chosen field of forensics.
Bachelor and master programs are typically required if you plan to work directly in the field of forensic science, and there are a variety of focuses to choose from. Forensic anthropologists often examine human remains to determine health history, age, racial and ethnic background, time and cause of death. Forensic reconstruction is the discipline of re-creating a crime scene. Forensic psychologists work to understand those who commit crimes and determine their mental state at the time they committed their crime. Forensic chemistry analyzes physical evidence. These are a few examples of different fields you can study in the process of obtaining a degree in forensic science.
If you plan to obtain a degree online, it is important to note that you will likely still be required to do some field work or serve an internship. Most aspects of forensic science are by nature hands-on, and so to truly learn the field, you will likely need to find some way to gain that important experience. Most prospective employers will require that you have some sort of practical application time in the course of your degree. When researching and enrolling in your online program, it is important to research and know exactly what type of internship and field work will be required of you, and if opportunities to meet those requirements exist in your area.