In the scientific community, serology is the study of blood serum. In practice, the forensic serologist is charged with diagnostic procedures and identification of antibodies in the blood serum and in other bodily fluids.
The job of a forensic serologist is to analyze blood found at a crime scene and answer questions about it. This may involve testing to ascertain whether the substance is blood and to determine whether it is human blood.
Further tests determine blood type, Rh factor and identify the antigens and antibodies present in the sample. New techniques involving DNA can be used to link blood and other bodily fluids to a particular individual or suspect.
As a forensic serologist you may also become an expert in interpreting blood patterns at a crime scene. Experts in the field can answer questions about directions of assault, angle of the weapon and distance between the victim and suspect by analyzing the blood splatter at a crime scene. Did you know that a serologist can help determine how long a person has been deceased based on the blood present in the crime scene?
Forensic Serologist Requirements, Education, and Training
The majority of forensic serologists have a Bachelor of Science degree. However, there are a a number of practicing serologists who do not have a degree, but rather entered the field with a significant amount of experience in an area of evidentiary investigation such as analysis of blood spatter. A Bachelor of Arts degree is also acceptable at the more general levels or when followed by a graduate degree.
Unlike some other forensic specialties, obtaining a graduate or post-graduate degree is not a requirement for pursuing a career in crime scene investigation as a serologist. The testing for blood and body serums are often basic laboratory techniques that can be mastered through practice while focusing on DNA related serology requires more advanced education.
For the aspiring serologist, degree programs are available in forensic serology which include academic instruction and laboratory testing in areas of serology, forensic immunology, and forensic medicine. Also evident will be studies in forensic genetics, which include courses in DNA analysis and statistics. It’s a given that you’ll also see a number of chemistry and biology classes. Many universities nationwide offer metabolic biochemistry and molecular biology coursework for aspiring forensic technicians, pathologists, serologists, medical examiners, and other crime scene investigation career paths.
Forensic Serologist Salary
Forensic serologist salary can vary widely based on your experience, reputation, and the difficulty of the specialized serology requirements. As an entry level forensic serologist you may be labeled as a forensic serology technician with a salary of about $37,000. Recognized practitioners in the field can expect to earn $50,000 to $60,000.
Forensic Serologist Career Opportunities
Forensic serology careers are available with law enforcement, crime labs, and the military services. The focus may be on rare diseases and research of drugs and their affect on autoimmune disease.
By far, the most visible and popular choice for a forensic serologist is crime scene investigation which offers the opportunity of providing valuable information for time sensitive investigations.
There is a wide range of opportunity that may begin with a position as a forensic serologist technician who analyzes collected samples in a laboratory setting. You can gain experience and additional training and move into the area of crime scene investigation.
Take a look at other great Criminal Justice Careers.