You might have been one of the aspiring forensic scientists that have approached us to enquire about pursuing a career in the field, so to speak. In actuality, we’ve had an increasing number of reports from highly-qualified graduates that are struggling to find work within forensic disciplines. It’s a competitive environment and starting a career (let alone finding your ideal profession) can be quite difficult.
We’ve put together a very specific answer to a clearly defined question: now that I’ve obtained my MSc (insert alternative but similarly-respected degree title here), why is it that I don’t have a selection of careers in forensic science from which I can choose? Where should I go from here?
Perhaps it might be difficult to consider at this stage, but a graduate degree in forensic science has provided you with the analytical skills and technical knowledge you require to excel in a number of diverse fields — keep this in mind, as this is the approach we’re taking here.
1. Suit and tie: corporate programs for new graduates.
Although they might not have been your first choice, there are plenty of options in related, but alternative fields, if you have suitable qualifications. Johnson and Johnson have a graduate career program with a global focus (but will require suitable living and working arrangements outside the UK). Proctor & Gamble offer a similarly wide array of graduate programs, from using your science skills to develop products, to training for management. The advantage of even a short term career with any big multinational is that it shows you as eminently employable. And as any recruiter will tell you, it is far easier to find another job once you are in work, rather than if you are without it.
2. Climbing the ladder: management consulting or banking.
As a scientist, you no doubt possess a highly analytical, logical mind. You probably enjoy the level of organisation that comes with applying a scientific methodology. And it’s highly likely you have a good head for numbers. Good news, then: a lucrative career could await you in consultancy, banking or management. IBM offers a world class graduate consultancy program and are always on the look out for new recruits. JP Morgan is a renowned investment bank always trawling for graduates, as is Morgan Stanley, a bank which consistently breaks the Times 100 best graduate employers list.
3. Chalkboards and yardsticks: you can, so teach.
Teaching offers a long, secure and rewarding career that involves educating future forensic scientists. The benefits are certainly nothing to be sniffed at – 195 days off per year, approximately a £6,000 bursary to start your PGCE studies and a starting salary of approximately £21k. However, there is a bit of a caveat here – the field is increasingly competitive, and you will need at least a 2:2 qualification, and preferably a 2:1 to keep your competitive edge. Particularly in demand are Chemists, so get in to this field if you can. You can find our more about this potential career pathway here: http://www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching
4. Getting back to the books: pursuing further graduate study.
Although funding is less freely available when it once was, and the pressure to produce results is somewhat greater, corporate firms are always encouraging graduates to pursue a thesis in relevant fields (e.g. the development of pharmaceuticals); it constitutes a brilliant way to further your studies. You will also be able to pursue your own interests at a higher level, speak with the most educated minds in the country, and teach. The opportunity for networking to create the career of your dreams makes this option very compelling indeed. Why not speak with your faculty about the possibility of further study?
5. Highly intelligent: a career in the service.
Perhaps it’s less lucrative than the pre-recession days, but a career in the civil service means you still obtain a degree of job security, a pension, competitive benefits and an array of graduate schemes. The Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) is always on the look-out for skilled graduates. So are recruiters in the Army, RAF and Navy, who value high technical skills in scientific fields for civilian roles. There are a wide variety of careers here, which will keep you challenged, are far from ordinary – and will also broaden your skill set out, making you a more compelling candidate for future job applications.
We recognise that the application process can be incredibly disheartening – setbacks are almost inevitable in securing the career you want. What’s more important is securing some paid employment, preferably a job that will allow you to enhance your already present skills. That alone puts you ahead of the competition when you’re applying for the perfect role.
Your Turn: Disagree or take issue with one or more of the choices we’ve provided here? Are you a forensic science degree graduate with a more unusual career trajectory? We’d like to hear about your experiences. Leave a comment here.