How to Become a Forensic Analyst
If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of people in the United States who is interested in a career as a forensic analyst, then you’re probably curious as to the path you’ll need to take in order to get there. Listed here is a step-by-step guide on how to become a forensic analyst.
Get Started in High School
Though there are plenty of college programs out there that will teach you how to become a forensic analyst, you’ll have a better shot at landing a lucrative entry-level job (and getting through college with a high GPA) if you start your studies in high school. Some of the courses that you’ll want to consider here include biology, anatomy, computer sciences, and even an elective in forensics or criminal justice. These days, may high schools offer elective vocational programs in which students can take several electives dealing in the field of forensics. In some cases, these are AP classes and some may count as college credits. Speak to your guidance counselor to learn more about this.
Get the Right College Degree
The next step in becoming a forensic analyst involves choosing a college that will offer you the right degree. The amount of education that is required depends almost solely upon the field of forensics you choose and your employer, but the BLS states that most employers require a bachelor’s degree in forensics or in a field of natural science with a focus on forensics. These are four-year degrees, and if you can get yours from an accredited and well-known college, then you’ll be a more valuable asset to your employers – meaning that you’ll have an easier time finding work once you graduate.
Obtain Licensure and Certification
There are several groups that can provide licensure and certification to forensic analysts, and while the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that these are not necessary for finding employment, they can certainly go a long way in showing your credentials and your area of expertise. For instance, the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) organization can offer you a GCFA, or GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst certificate, which certifies that you have what it takes to collect, handle, preserve, and process various pieces of information and evidence. Employers often seek candidates with these credentials as they have proven their abilities and passed a rigorous exam.
Participate in Ongoing Education
Finally, in order to be a successful forensic analyst, it is important for you to continue to participate in ongoing information each year. There are several ways to go about doing this, and in many cases, your employer can direct you to online courses that will count toward fulfilling the hours you need to keep your certification active. The courses you take will focus on modern technologies and evidence collection procedures, ensuring that you remain in-the-know when it comes to the latest methodologies.
Though you should begin focusing on your career as a forensic analyst and the education that it will take you to get there in high school and college, you should also bear in mind that most employers will also mandate a period of on-the-job training so that you can learn specific software, protocols, and methods.