What is a Forensic Profession?
Who can join IAFP?
May I join IAFP if I am a student?
What courses should I take in high school to get ready to major in Forensic Science?
What is the Membership renewal process?
What is the notification process for any change or updates in personal membership information?
How is my privacy guaranteed with the Membership Directory?
What is the policy for contacting other members?
What is the process of listing an event on the calendar?
Do I need to be an IAFP member to submit an article for publication in the Forensic Digest?
How do I advertise in the Forensic Digest?
What is the process to jointly present a webinar with IAFP?
What is the definition of forensic science?
What are the skills and knowledge needed to become a forensic scientist?
What are the sub-disciplines in forensic science?
What does a forensic scientist do?
What are the services of a crime laboratory?
What is the impact of forensic science on courtroom testimony?
What salaries are available to forensic scientists?


What is a Forensic Profession?
The word forensic comes from the Latin word forensis: public; to the forum or public discussion; argumentative, rhetorical, belonging to debate or discussion. From there it is a small step to the modern definition of forensic as belonging to, used in or suitable to courts of judicature, or to public discussion or debate. Forensic disciplines are disciplines used in public, in a court, or in the justice system. Any profession used for the purposes of the law is a forensic profession.

Who can join IAFP?
Forensic professionals from around the world may join IAFP; including those from the disciplines of criminology, psychology and behavioral science, toxicology, serology, pharmacology, pathology, biology, entomology, archaeology, physical anthropology, palynology, odontology, dactology, taphonomy, osteology, forensic serology, judiciary, psychiatry, nursing, geographical profiling, photography, computer science/cyber-terrorism, bio-terrorism, battlefield forensics, arson, engineering sciences, acoustics, nuclear forensics, linguistics, meteorology, accounting, forensic genetics/DNA, forensic dentistry, forensic radiology, document examination, voice identification, human trafficking, identity theft, environmental forensics, microanalysis, social work, forensic artist, veterinary forensics… professionals whose occupations are part of the expanding roster of forensic disciplines.

May I join IAFP if I am a student?
Yes, IAFP welcomes students whose educational and career goals have to do with the field of forensic science.

What courses should I take in high school to get ready to major in Forensic Science?
Take all the science and math courses you can. Courses in chemistry, biology, mathematics, and physics are helpful.

What is the Membership renewal process?
Members receive a 30-day email renewal notice. Membership is renewed by submitting a new completed membership form online with payment via credit card, submit a new completed membership form by fax or phone with credit card information. If the Membership Division has not received payment or contact by the anniversary renewal date, membership name and information may be removed from the Member Directory.

What is the notification process for any change or updates in personal membership information?
Members may email changes or updates to maria@tiafp.org.

How is my privacy guaranteed with the Membership Directory?
The personal information of each member is entered into the IAFP database, and is only used for internal statistical purposes, mailings and marketing, announcements of upcoming events, courses, webinars and publications. IAFP values personal information of our members. At the time of registration, the IAFP member is offered the option to publish whatever personal information they choose to list. It is not a public directory, only IAFP members have access to other member’s information.

What is the policy for contacting other members?
One of the benefits of IAFP membership is the opportunity to network with fellow members. We expect everyone to maintain a regard for privacy. Names are never publicly distributed.

What is the process of listing an event on the calendar?
Members may submit title, date, place, contact information and a link to the website for other information including registration. All calendar listings are subject to final approval by the IAFP Board of Directors. Events are usually posted within 48 hours of submission.

Do I need to be an IAFP member to submit an article for publication in the Forensic Digest?
No, but membership is preferred. Submission of manuscripts, research reports, and other material, suitable for any of the forensic science disciplines will be reviewed by the IAFP Editorial Board. A determination will be made regarding the inclusion of the article. All materials submitted must be original and not previously published in any other copyrighted works. Authors will be required to sign an exclusive copyright release for any manuscript submitted for publication in the IAFP Journal.

How do I advertise in the Forensic Digest?
The advertising breakdown is located by clicking: http://www.theforensicdigest.com/advertise.html. For additional questions, please call: 760.322.9925.

What is the process to jointly present a webinar with IAFP?
We welcome joint projects to members and non-members. Submit your ideas to Dr. Kenneth Mills at kenny@tiafp.org.

What is the definition of forensic science?
The application of scientific knowledge and methodology to legal problems and criminal investigations. Sometimes called simply forensics, forensic science encompasses many different fields of science, including anthropology, biology, chemistry, engineering, genetics, medicine, pathology, phonetics, psychiatry, and toxicology.

What are the skills and knowledge needed to become a forensic scientist?
As a forensic scientist, you are first and foremost a scientist who applies scientific principles to solve problems that are related to our legal and regulatory systems. Your role is to ensure that accepted scientific principles are used to examine evidence and to obtain and interpret data. You must be able to perform exacting laboratory work, keep detailed records, write understandable reports, and explain and defend your findings in a courtroom. You are not an advocate for the prosecution or the defense. Some of the knowledge, skills, and abilities you need to possess to be a successful forensic scientist include the following:
Note: Because of the type of work done by a forensic scientist, there are other job requirements that are somewhat different from many jobs. You should have no history of drug use, arrests, or other legal problems. If you have had problems in these areas, it may keep you from getting a job in a forensic laboratory.

What are the sub-disciplines in forensic science?
Forensic scientists are often involved in the search for and examination of physical evidence. This physical evidence is useful for establishing or excluding an association between a suspect of a crime and the scene of the crime and/or the victim(s) or between the victim(s) and the crime scene. The scientist will sometimes visit the scene to determine the sequence of events, any indicators as to who the perpetrator might be, and to join in the search for evidence. The following is a general listing of sub-disciplines and associated examinations: Forensic Biologists analyze blood and other body fluids. Forensic Trace Evidence examiners analyze hairs and fibers, paint, soil, and glass. Forensic Chemists analyze flammable substances and evidence from a scene of a suspected arson. Forensic Drug Chemists analyze suspected drugs of abuse such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Forensic Toxicologists analyze specimens from individuals such as blood and urine for alcohol, drugs, and poisons. Other Forensic Scientists specialize in footwear, tool mark, and tire impressions; fingerprints; firearms; explosives; questioned documents; odontology; and/or engineering. Forensic scientists can appear for the prosecution or defense in criminal matters, and plaintiff or defendant in civil ones. They present their findings and opinions in written form either as formal statements of evidence or reports. Most often, they are required to attend court to present their findings in person.

What does a forensic scientist do?
Forensic scientists work in crime laboratories as forensic chemists and biologists. Their jobs may include the following aspects:
What are the services of a crime laboratory?
A crime laboratory includes five basic services: (1) Physical Science unit: uses the principles of chemistry, physics, and geology to identify and compare physical evidence; (2) Biology unit: applies knowledge of biological sciences in order to investigate blood samples, body fluids, hair and fiber samples; (3) Firearms unit: investigates discharged bullets, cartridge cases, shotgun shells and ammunition; (4) Document unit: provides the skills needed for handwriting analysis and other questioned document issues; and (5) Photographic unit: applies specialized photographic techniques for recording and examining physical evidence. Additional services may include toxicology, fingerprint analysis, voiceprint analysis, evidence collection and polygraph (lie detector) administration.

What is the impact of forensic science on courtroom testimony?
The results of forensic analysis can be irrefutable; therefore its impact on courtroom testimony is significant. Examples include: Matching the DNA pattern of a blood sample to the DNA pattern of a suspect’s blood (or matching it to a convicted offender), matching hair fibers found at a crime scene to those from a suspect, and the expert testimony of a drug chemist to a previously unknown substance.

What salaries are available to forensic scientists?
Salaries will vary by forensic field and state of employment. For example, forensic pathologists typically make over $100,000 per year. Forensic anthropologists make from $60,000 to $100,000 per year. Salaries for individuals with Bachelors degrees in forensic science will vary significantly depending on the location of employment, anywhere from $24,000 to $60,000. To learn about the range of salaries, visit the American Academy of Forensic Sciences website, www.aafs.org, and follow the employment link. Read the job descriptions both for salary postings and for information on the qualities desired in job applicants.