Name: Elizabeth Hird
Job Title: Trainee reporting officer, The Forensic Science Service
Degree Subject and level: Forensic science (2:1) University of Glamorgan
What was the application process like?
I began working as temporary forensic staff through an agency. Before joining I had an interview that consisted of logical thinking and maths tests. When I became permanent I had to give a presentation to make sure that I could stand up in front of people and talk if I ever had to go to court to present evidence.
What does your job entail?
The Forensic Science Service is part of the Home Office. Its key role is providing impartial, scientific evidence for use in courts of law. This usually happens where scientific evidence is needed to help the police with their investigations. I work on toxicology which means a lot of lab work, where I process and screen the samples of blood and urine from the deceased or samples that we are investigating for drugs and alcohol. We are here to inform the police of the results and may also be required to present those results in court. At the moment I am training to go to court which involves a lot of study.
Can it be stressful?
Yes, because somebody’s life might depend on the results. On the other hand there can be a lot of waiting around for results.
What attributes help you to succeed in the job?
You need to pay great attention to detail and be a perfectionist. You also need to have quite a logical thought pattern and always be questioning.
Have there been any strange moments?
When I first started they told me to tell everyone I was a hairdresser! They were joking, but they were just trying to get the point across that we can’t tell the world what we are working on. If you want a career where you get recognition, forensic science is not for you. The best part of the job is knowing that your evidence has led to a guilty suspect being convicted.
What advice what you give to others?
If you want start as an assistant forensic scientist like I did, you need A levels in science. If you want to go on to go to court and become a reporting officer, a degree is required. There is no work experience for forensic scientists but you can get lab experience elsewhere. You can watch TV programmes to see what we do although it’s not that glamorous and we don’t get results in two minutes! What you really need are teamwork skills and a good sense of humour.