5 Great Forensic Jobs in Homeland Security

Those newly minted scientists looking for forensic jobs in homeland security do not have to look far. After all, this is not a narrowly defined profession. As the American Academy of Forensic Sciences states, “Any science used for the purposes of the law is a forensic science.”

1. Computer Forensics Specialists

Also known as digital forensics, this field is renowned for determining the authenticity of electronic information as well as for preparing computer evidence for civil and criminal trials. These experts search out, compile and analyze digital information from a wide range of sources: laptop and desktop computers, iPads, digital cameras, flash drives and DVDs, to name a few. In addition, emails, social media posts and other information uploaded to the internet yield plentiful clues, leads and answers for those who track terrorists and counterfeiters. Computer forensics practitioners work for agencies like the Computer Analysis and Response Team at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

2. Forensic Psychologists

On a daily basis, forensic psychologists develop profiles of criminals; give expert testimony; counsel inmates and parolees; and evaluate children in the throes of custody disputes. However, these analysts are also called on to examine the motives and methods of foreign and domestic terror suspects. If apprehended, those arrestees are subject to evaluation by forensic psychologists in order to determine their mental competence to stand for trial. Yet another application to homeland security is the therapeutic services psychologists render to victims of shootings, bombings and kidnappings.

3. Forensic Engineers

To know how things work is to know how they can malfunction…or be tampered with…or be converted into weapons. In an age of jury-rigged bombs, mail-away anthrax and poisoned reservoirs, it helps security enforcement to understand how to conduct electricity, what chemical combinations combust on contact and how sewage is treated. Since many threats are leveled against bridges, ports, railroads and waterways, forensic engineers are ideal personnel to fortify this infrastructure against attack. Among the entities working in this area is the National Institute for Standards and Technology, an agency with numerous forensic jobs in homeland security.

4. Forensic Anthropologist

Anthropology, often thought of as a social study, is actually steeped in physical science. Specialties like archaeology and osteology focus on the characteristics of the human skeleton. In forensics, anthropologists scrutinize skeletal remains recovered from crime scenes to ascertain cause and manner of death. The applications to homeland security are many, like making positive identification and measuring the time lapse between death and discovery. Forensic anthropologists can glean abundant knowledge from mere fragments. This information can lead to identifying perpetrators of incendiary and hostile acts. Law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels employ these professionals with forensic jobs in homeland security.

5. Forensic Medicine

Perhaps most well-known among the forensic jobs in homeland security is the forensic pathologist or medical examiner. This kind of doctor specializes in the cause and manner of death at the anatomical, cellular and genetic levels. The forensic pathologist will receive bodies that are often still fully clothed, with the garments adding to the evidentiary data. Performing autopsies reveals particular aspects of the decedent’s health and circumstances at the time of death. For example, examining the lungs and finding asbestos narrows the possibilities of where the dead person spent significant time. This helps law enforcement, intelligence and military leaders better understand and respond to threats.

Related Resource: 5 Great Computer Science Jobs in Homeland Security

Needless to say, forensic service in the area of national security is not confined to microscopes and test tubes. There is a broad array of exiting forensic jobs in homeland security.