Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Seeking A Career In Forensic Ballistics?

If you are seeking a career in forensic ballistics you are obviously serious about forensics itself and firearms. This fascinating area of forensics was probably first used in Court to lead to a conviction in London in 1835. Since then, this science has undoubtedly become considerably more complex.

Forensic ballistics requires the collection, identification, classification and analysis of evidence in relation to firearms in criminal investigations. This may involve distinguishing tool marks (or breech marks) which can be transferred from the weapon to a fired bullet and bullet fragments along with the trajectory from the bullets fired. Other areas include gun powder residue analysis, fingerprints, fibres and blood associated with the weapon or bullets. As with most areas of forensic science, ballistics works closely with other departments including the law enforcement agencies.

The firearm itself does not need to be located to obtain a match, and indeed, this match does not always demand a lot of effort on the part of the forensic ballistics expert. The FBI and their specialist Firearms-Toolmarks Unit, keep a fully integrated national database known as 'Drugfire'. When details are put into the database, it will seek a match with other information and flag this up to the user.

If you're considering a career in forensic ballistics and expecting a high salary, forget it! Once you leave college, and depending on any past experience you may have, you can expect an average of between 22000 to 35000 dollars in the United States. Increments are typically paid every six months or so depending on how you advance. The salary is low as you continue to be in training for a minimum of a couple of years after you start, so don't expect to be heavily involved with anything too serious initially.

Your on-going training demands a whole lot of further reading on all relevant areas of law such as identifying firearms, wound analysis, different ammunition etc. You will also need to attend seminars and courses to make sure you are familiar with how to handle evidence, the best way to safety assemble and disassemble firearms and microscope techniques. You will end up well versed in how guns and ammunition are manufactured, how to give expert testimony in the courtroom and also attend many more lectures and seminars - just like being back in college! As with any forensics career, learning is dynamic as new techniques and machinery is constantly evolving.

A career in forensic ballistics is simply that, a profession for life. If you are a bit uncertain, think carefully before you go down this road as it's a long one. It will be your job to thoroughly investigate evidence and try and keep one step ahead, and when required, to provide clear and explicate evidence in the court.

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