The Job Market of Forensic Science

Forensic science can be defined as the application of scientific methods and principles to solve crimes and other types of legal issues. In most criminal cases, a forensic scientist is typically involved in looking for and examining many kinds of physical evidence that can help establishing a link between a suspect of committing a crime and the scene of the crime or victim. Forensics is now a more popular subject since several TV shows became successful, such as Crime Scene Investigation (CSI).

However, very few people realize that being a CSI or forensic professional can be a very good career alternative. One can put forward many reasons that make forensic science one of the best career prospects nowadays. The reasons range from labor market, salaries, benefits to training availability and beyond.

The availability of jobs for someone seeking to be a forensic professional used to be very small for a long time until about five years ago, when many technological and scientific advances started to develop and provided new kinds of tools that substantially improved the efficiency of the police and security forces in solving crimes and other problems. As a consequence, most law enforcement agencies and other institutions greatly expanded their resources and facilities in order to increase their ability to employing techniques and methodologies of forensic science.

Even though police departments alone employ (and keep hiring) thousands of people coming from diverse areas of forensic work and with many different educational backgrounds, police is not the only alternative for those looking for a job related to forensic science or criminal justice. Methods and concepts of forensic science are increasingly being used by many other institutions for diverse purposes so the job market for forensics is greater than ever. Companies that develop, improve and produce tools, reagents, kits and devices to be used in forensic investigation are also a good part of the available job market. The size of the job market and the opportunities associated greatly increase if one considers working abroad. Besides the United States, countries like Britain and Australia are also part of this trend.

Being a discipline that relies strongly on technology, working in forensic science requires the acquisition of certain skills. This means somebody wanting to work in forensics needs at least some sort of higher education. The type of degree and the length of the program vary largely and depend on the kind of work one is interested in doing. Some positions require higher degrees such as Ph.D. or Masters, but many more posts can be taken after a short course of one or two years earned at smaller private academies.

But these requirements are not a big obstacle to be sorted out if one considers the many benefits of working for a forensic department. Positions at police agencies and other law enforcement institutions are often accompanied by substantial benefits and competitive salaries and, best of all, good prospects of stability and professional growth along with an aura of social approval typically associated with law and order public service. These and many other reasons make forensic science on of the best career alternatives available today.

Dimensions of Job Satisfaction

There is some doubt whether job satisfaction consists of a single dimension or a number of separate ones. Some workers may be satisfied with some aspects of their work and dissatisfied with others. There does, however, appear to be a positive correlation between satisfaction levels in different areas of work. This suggests a single overall factor of job satisfaction. However, it seems there is no one, general, comprehensive theory which explains job satisfaction.

Today is still considered by a number of critics to be, a complex concept and difficult to measure objectively. A wide range of variables relating to individual, social, cultural organizational and environmental factors affect the level of job satisfaction. Specifically:

– Individual Factors include personality, education, intelligence and abilities, age, marital status. Orientation to work.

– Social Factors include relationships with co-workers, group working and norms, opportunities for interaction, informal organization.

– Cultural Factors include underlying attitudes, beliefs and values.

– Organizational Factors include nature and size, formal structure, personnel policies and procedures, employee relations, nature of the work, technology and work organization, supervision and styles of leadership, management systems, working conditions.

– Environmental Factors include economic, social, technical and governmental influences.

These different factors, all affect the job satisfaction of certain individuals in a given set of circumstances, but not necessarily in others. The various studies of job satisfaction have some validity and have served the businesses in times of need and performance appraisal.

A strategic way of achieving job satisfaction is to establish a corporate culture that encourages communication and is directed towards quality work. It is particularly important for employees to see excellence rewarded, to not fear making mistakes, to work in an atmosphere of helpfulness, and to see a relationship between hard work and rewards. As the tool for such strategic changes, organizational culture can be altered by reshaping functions, such as the communications systems and by building teams and creating leaders. Managing change is the challenge for today’s businesses and its success or failure will judge the viability of any firm in the years to come.

Oilfield Job – A Mudlogger’s Career Advancement to Data Engineer and Beyond

The oil and gas industry is desperately looking for workers at all levels. They would prefer experienced workers, but beggars can’t be choosers – many of their most experienced staff are reaching retirement age in the next few years and they need those skills transferred before it is too late. Besides roustabouts, a mudlogger is another entry level oilfield job which leads to better things. Many senior staff on oil rigs started off as mudloggers.

A mudlogger:

  • connect various sensors to the drilling apparatus and install specialized equipment
  • collects geological samples of rock cuttings from the oil well (as part of the oil drilling process)
  • monitor gases coming up out of the wellbore as an indicator of hydrocarbons
  • prepares and analyses them geologically
  • writes a report on them
  • enters the information into the database.

Mudloggers work 12-hour shifts, and there are always 2 of them on an oil rig to ensure 24-hour coverage. The job is strenuous and challenging, especially when you have to install equipment and collect samples while drilling is actively going on. You have to be diligent, because part of your duties includes monitoring the level of dangerous gas which can cause a well blowout.

There is high turnover in this oilfield job. Most mudloggers work for oil services companies – not directly for the major companies like Shell or BP. Larger service companies require you to have a geology degree, and expect you to move up the career ladder quickly. Most mudloggers are young, in their early twenties and single. It is rare to see a middle-aged mudlogger. After 6 months to two years of work, you would ideally gain promotion to data engineer, with more responsibilities. As a data engineer, you will also troubleshoot problems which arise, and maintain and repair sensors as needed. For many mudloggers, the eventual aim is to become the wellsite geologist.

Although a mudlogger is an entry level oilfield job, you will earn at least $50,000 annually. Recent information from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ April 2008 meeting showed that graduate students with Masters and PhD degrees were receiving salaries of $80,000 to $110,000. Compare this to $55,000 in 2003.

Another perk of your job is travel. Many oil services companies have operations all over the world. For example, Geoservices has service contracts throughout oil rigs on the North Sea. Their employees get the opportunity to travel throughout northern Europe – Norway, Denmark and Holland – when they are off-duty. Working 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off means that you have plenty of time to explore the countries where you are based.

Some new hires hope to use a mudlogger oilfield job to get hired for bigger things by a major oil company like Exxon. This strategy has mixed success. In the United States, many oil wells are owned by wildcatters, who sell their oil to the oil companies. In the North Sea, too, many subcontractors and service companies are used to operate offshore oil rigs. Typically, companies like Shell have only a token presence on board these offshore oil rigs – the company man. Everyone else works for the contractor.

Right now, geology graduates with advanced degrees are being headhunted even before they graduate. But not everyone can go to graduate school, and not every geology student can score straight A’s to attract a company like Halliburton. If your results are only average, your best chance to get an oilfield job is to use proven oil rig employment placement services.