If you possess a precise, detail-oriented working style and a strong enthusiasm for criminal justice, you might just be suited for a career in forensic ballistics, which is a type of forensic science. Forensic ballistics analysts, in short, focus on the assessment of weapons, specifically guns.
Common Duties and Responsibilities
When a forensic ballistics analyst reports to work, whether at a police station, morgue or laboratory, her duties revolve around surveying and scrutinizing firearm-related evidence retrieved from crime scenes. A big part of the job calls for assessing bullet shell casings, for instance. This often entails figuring out which kind of gun the casing comes from. Forensic ballistics analysts also spend significant time assessing weapons in order to determine whether two separate crimes have the same perpetrators. While the bulk of a forensic ballistics analyst's job duties revolve around the pure analysis of firearms, individuals who choose this career path have to be prepared to eloquently communicate their findings, too. Once forensic ballistics analysts make determinations based on their evidence, they are often responsible for making detailed written accounts of their conclusions. They frequently provide statements about them in courtrooms, as well. Because of this, forensic ballistics analysts must possess strong writing and communication abilities.
Applying In-Depth Knowledge
Forensic ballistics analysts have to have in-depth knowledge of firearms. When they study crime scenes and remnants of weapons used, they have to be able to apply their expertise in order to come to reliable conclusions, such as where exactly the perpetrator was situated when he made the shot. They utilize their extensive knowledge of firearms after thoroughly observing evidence from bullet holes and trajectories and injuries on human beings. The discipline of ballistics is focuses largely on understanding bullets and their movements and paths.
If you’re serious about becoming a forensic ballistics analyst, you have to make sure you have the appropriate educational background for it first. Most individuals in this profession have bachelor’s degrees in a suitable field including but not limited to forensic science, criminal justice or criminology. Further extensive training in firearms is also a must. When aspiring forensic ballistics analysts are through with their initial training, they need to be equipped with a considerable wealth of knowledge regarding weapons, from details on the remnants of fired pistols to the many varieties of bullets out there. Since the field of forensic science is constantly moving forward, people in it often take on regular training to stay updated on the newest developments. Many individuals pursue certification in ballistics from reputable organizations like the American Board of Criminalistics. People skilled in math and science are generally good candidates for forensic ballistics analyst jobs.
Forensics Career Prospects
The forensic science field has seen a recent boom in female workers, particularly as technicians, says Jennifer Smith, a professor of forensic science at Penn State University, in a 2013 "Penn State News" article. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that work in the field will expand in the decade leading up to 2020 by 19 percent. Since images of forensic science professionals are so common on television and in films, many people will likely compete for coveted positions in the discipline.
- Forensic Ballistics: Styles of Projectiles; Sue L. Hamilton
- Encyclopedia of Forensic Science; Suzanne Bell
- Career Opportunities in Forensic Science; Susan Echaore-McDavid and Richard A. McDavid
- Careers in Ballistics Investigation; Janell Broyles
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Forensic Science Technicians -- Job Outlook
- Penn State University: Probing Question: Do Women Dominate the Field of Forensic Science?