How do I Become a Forensic Entomologist?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A person who becomes a forensic entomologist uses his knowledge of insects to draw conclusions in legal matters. Often, this involves assisting with crime investigations. In some cases, however, a person in this field may also put his knowledge to work in civil matters. Usually, a person who wants to become a forensic entomologist has to spend a good deal of time preparing for this job. Most attain master’s or doctoral degrees in science and then gain some related experience before working in this field.

A flying ant, which a forensic entomologist might study.
A flying ant, which a forensic entomologist might study.

A person who wants to become a forensic entomologist may work on crime scene cases involving insects that have begun to feed on human remains. For example, a forensic entomologist may be able to figure out how long a person has been dead or where he died by assessing the number and types of insects in the body. He may also work on cases in which insects have had an impact on human beings and their environments or help with cases involving the contamination of food with insects and their droppings. It’s important to note that there aren’t as many full-time forensic entomologists as there are other types of scientists. Often, people in this field perform investigative work and consultations on a part-time basis while spending the majority of their time as college professors.

A forensic entomologist  may work on crimes scene cases involving insects that have begun to feed on human remains.
A forensic entomologist may work on crimes scene cases involving insects that have begun to feed on human remains.

A person who wants to become a forensic entomologist typically starts by finishing high school or earning an equivalent diploma or credential. He may do well to take advanced science and math courses in high school to help prepare him for college-level work. The classes also may give him a firm foundation of scientific knowledge from which to draw in later studies. Since written and verbal communication skills are important for a person in this field, he may also do well to take classes to develop them.

In college, a person who wants to become a forensic entomologist often works toward earning a bachelor’s degree in a science field. Biology is typically a good choice for a person interested in this career, but other science majors may be suitable as well. Following undergraduate school, a person interested in this career often pursues a master’s degree in a biology, chemistry, pathology, or a related major. Some schools may offer a general entomology master’s degree as well. Finally, a person interested in this career may go on to pursue a Doctor of Entomology degree.

A person who wants to become a forensic entomologist typically has to gain some related experience. An individual may obtain an entry-level position in forensics, even working as an assistant, to prepare for this job. Some candidates are able to find internships or secure jobs researching or teaching at a higher-learning institutions to get experience. Often, an aspiring forensic entomologist seeks certification from an authority in this field after gaining significant experience.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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