Analysis, evidence, and law
In legal proceedings, a case is only as strong as its evidence.
And whether that evidence is strong depends, in large part, on
the work of forensic specialists.
The field of forensics is broad and involves many kinds of
workers. Some of them are involved in crimesolving. Others, such
as forensic social workers or forensic economists, help to resolve
different legal issues.
But one thing all forensic specialists have in common is that
their work is connected to the law in some way. These workers
might have a background in life sciences, art, engineering, health-
care, social sciences, or a number of other fields. And although
their specialized knowledge and job titles vary, all forensic work-
ers have expertise related to a legal issue or case.
This article discusses forensics and some of the work it
encompasses. The first section talks about what forensic workers
do and lists selected specialties within the field. A second section
describes places of employment, potential earnings and opportuni-
ties, and education and training requirements. A final section pro-
vides sources for finding more information.
Elka Maria Torpey
is an economist in
the Office of Occu-
She is available at
(202) 691-5719 or
14 Occupational Outlook Quarterly • Spring 2009
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Forensics at work
Forensic workers apply scientific or other
specialized knowledge to questions and issues
related to the law. Their job duties fall into
two basic categories: analyzing evidence and
acting as expert witnesses in legal proceed-
ings. Some forensic specialists concentrate
primarily on one of these tasks, although
many do both.
When analyzing evidence, forensic
specialists often uncover details about past
events—for example, a time of death, the
cause of a car accident, or the source of a
computer hacking. They might