Forensic Scientist Kaipūtaiao Taihara

Forensic scientists apply scientific knowledge and skills to investigating crimes and helping the police find or eliminate crime suspects. They may also do research into developing or improving forensic techniques.

Forensic scientists may do some or all of the following:

  • visit crime scenes to find evidence
  • take notes and map the crime scene
  • analyse physical evidence such as fibres, glass, debris, firearms, bullets and marks made by tools or weapons
  • identify drugs found on people, in body fluids or at crime scenes
  • analyse biological evidence such as hair, or blood and other body fluids
  • analyse body tissues for poisons
  • write reports on the results
  • give evidence in court
  • investigate civil court cases such as fire or insurance claims
  • train police staff in collecting evidence.

Physical Requirements

Forensic scientists need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses) as they search for small pieces of evidence at crime scenes. 

Useful Experience

Useful experience for forensic scientists includes laboratory work, and work in the fields of medicine or chemistry.

Personal Qualities

Forensic scientists need to be:

  • good at problem solving
  • good communicators
  • honest, responsible and able to keep information private
  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • able to work well under pressure.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for forensic scientists includes laboratory work, and work in the fields of medicine or chemistry.

Subject Recommendations

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include maths, biology, chemistry and English.

Forensic Scientists can earn around $50K-$76K per year per year.

Forensic scientists may progress to senior scientist, science leader or management roles. 

Forensic scientists at ESR may specialise in areas such as:

DNA Analyst
DNA analysts examine DNA evidence, such as blood, from crime scenes.
Firearms Examiner
Firearms examiners identify guns used in crimes by studying bullets and bullet marks.
Forensic Toxicologist
Forensic toxicologists analyse drugs and poisons in specimens such as food or blood.
Illicit Drug Analyst
Illicit drug analysts identify illicit drugs, such as methamphetamine and cocaine, usually for the police.

The New Zealand Police also offers a range of forensic civilian specialisations including fingerprint officers, behavioural analysts, electronic crime analysts, document examiners and scene of crime officers.   

Forensic Scientist

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