Career Requirements

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Ballistic Expert Career Requirements

If you have an interest in criminal investigation, without the police work, forensic science might be a career path for you. You may want to consider becoming a ballistic expert, where you could end up working anywhere from out in the field with police officers to a lab for top governmental agencies.

What are the requirements for a ballistic expert career?

For starters, you must have no felony convictions and have a clean background to be a ballistic expert. After firearms training, you must also successfully pass your proficiency exams.

To be a successful ballistic expert, you should possess the following qualities. You need excellent written and verbal communication skills, as you will have many reports to compile and explain your findings. You may also need to explain these findings in court. There is a lot of critical thinking, as you will be analyzing information, sometimes given from just a small portion from the crime scene. Your job is to piece it together and recreate the scenario. You also should be detailed oriented, because the minute details can make a major impact on a case. And you need to be able to keep your composure. Being the first to arrive on the crime scene can be emotional and you need to handle it well to do your job.

You will definitely receive on-the-job training, possibly two years or more, before being released on your own. Often, you'll be supervised by a seasoned investigator to show you how to find and collect samples. You'll also be expected to keep up with the changing technologies of forensic science.

What education can help prepare me for a career as a ballistic expert?

There are many educational requirements that need to be met to become a ballistic expert. There is a lot of science involved, as you must fully understand firearms, rockets, bullets, and even bombs. Because of this, you will need to learn all there is about firearms, how to configure them, and understand their design and purpose.

Entry-level ballistic experts or forensic scientists must hold at least a bachelor's degree in the natural sciences, perhaps chemistry or biology. The majority of your coursework will be advanced chemistry, biology, and mathematics. You'll also be expected to complete criminal justice courses such as lab instrumentation usage and evidence collection. Those looking to go further can seek an advanced degree in forensic science.

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