Combat the CSI Effect: Get the cold hard facts on forensic-related careers

It probably comes as no surprise that media influences our career decisions, however, do we realize just how much our perception of different career paths is shaped by our favorite TV shows, movies, or podcasts?

According to The Legal Information Institute, the “CSI effect” describes the impact shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Law & Order have on public perception of forensic science, more specifically jurors weighing in on criminal cases. The theory contends that jurors who watch crime or legal television shows may place a heavy emphasis on forensic science, have unrealistic expectations of how accurate forensic evidence is, and even be reluctant to convict without forensic evidence from the crime scene.

Myth: All forensic-related professionals work in law enforcement.

Fact: Loosely defined, forensics refers to the application of scientific methods and techniques to the investigation of crime. Forensic professionals work across industries from crime scene investigators to forensic computer analysis.

Here are just two examples of forensic related careers you may not have heard about:

Brandon, Forensic DNA Examiner, FBI
Laura, Organ Recovery Manager

Myth: Forensic scientists always work in sterile environments.

Fact: A lab is likely one of the cleanest places a forensic scientist will spend time, however, forensic teams collect evidence from crime scenes and environments that include hazards, diseases, chemicals, odor, bugs, and more! O*NET Online is a great resource for researching the specific work tasks, activities, and environment of positions you are considering. Additionally, conducting informational interviews, job shadowing, and internship experiences can be great avenues to gain a more direct understanding of the work environments commonly associated with forensic-related careers.

Myth: There are limited avenues for students to explore interests in forensic-related careers.

Fact: There are several ways for Binghamton University students to learn more about forensic related careers and gain experience. Here are just a few to consider:

  • Mentor Match: This resource is designed to connect current Binghamton University students with alumni who want to share career advice. A few of the professionals on Mentor Match include a Forensic & Integrity Services Manager, Senior Investigator, Forensic Psychologist, and Laboratory Analyst. Log in and review your alumni matches today!
  • Explore Jobs & Salaries Tools: The explore jobs and salaries tool is an interactive resource that provides labor market insights for a variety of career options, down to the county. Search for the career you are interested in and make note of the top employers in your geographic region for potential job shadow, volunteer, or internship sites.
  • Forensic Health Minor: The Forensic Health Minor is open to all Binghamton University students and is particularly well suited for those considering careers in healthcare, forensic science, or law.

This article just scratches the surface of all of the forensic-related career options out there. If you would like to discuss career and/or major exploration with a member of our staff, schedule an appointment on hireBING.

By Ellen Vibbard
Ellen Vibbard Senior Assistant Director, Career Education and Preparation