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For Forensic Services Department

The Victoria Police Forensic Services Department (VPFSD) provides forensic services to assist Victoria Police, the judicial system and the community.

Forensic Science Careers

There are two main pathways into forensic science:

  • a science career (that may lead to a forensic position), or
  • a police career (that may lead to a forensic position)

When you choose a science or police career, don’t just do this to aim to work in forensic science. Consider forensic science as only one of many areas that you may be able to specialise in if the opportunity arises.

By taking a wider view of your career and possible areas of employment, you may find other areas of science or policing that interest you, and you will have the skills to be employable across a number of fields. Places within forensic science are limited (perhaps 10 -15 per year with many interested applicants), so you need to be open to other employer options once you have qualified.

For information on careers in Forensic Medicine (which is not the role of Victoria Police), please refer to the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine.

Science careers

Explore the requirements and opportunities for all science careers by looking at job websites (e.g. Seek) to find out who is employing scientists, the science job descriptions and pay, the working conditions etc. A science career usually:

  • requires a 3 year university degree
  • is mostly laboratory-based
  • is mostly office hours.

For a forensic scientific position, scientists are employed as Forensic Officers in the Victorian Public Service and are not required to join Victoria Police as a sworn member.

Most Forensic Officer positions require a science degree in:

  • chemistry
  • biochemistry, or
  • molecular biology.

On the job training is provided before commencing casework. Most positions are for laboratory work; only a small number of Forensic Officers also attend crime scenes. Most entry level positions perform only part of the examination and analysis, ie one step in the overall sampling and analysis procedure (rather than all the processes in a case).

Only a few forensic scientific positions are advertised each year. Some forensic areas may only have as few as 6 staff, so vacancies in the smaller areas are very infrequent.

Vacancies for Victorian Public Servants (including Forensic Officer positions for scientists) are advertised at Victorian Government careers. Job codes for entry Forensic Officers are FO-2 to FO-3. You can also register to receive information if any vacancies in these categories are advertised.

Police careers

Explore the requirements and opportunities for all police careers in Victoria Police.

For a police forensic position, it is not expected that applicants have a science or forensic qualification. Positions are generally for Senior Constables, with years of experience in operational duties at a Police Station. Most sworn forensic examiners are expected to complete a Diploma of Forensic Investigation as part of their training and most perform scene based work, rather than laboratory examinations.

Only a few positions are advertised internally each year to current Police members.

Sworn police areas of of work

The units who advertise sworn member positions are:

  • Major Crime Scene
  • Ballistics
  • Criminal Identification
  • Chemical, Biological and Radiological/Disaster Victim Identification Unit
  • Collision Reconstruction and Mechanical Investigation

Forensic Officers areas of work

Forensic Officers are public servants not sworn police. Most Forensic Officers are scientists, but some have other areas of expertise such as audiovisual, fingerprint, vehicles.

  • Audiovisual
  • Biological Sciences
  • Botany
  • Chemical Trace
  • Clandestine Laboratories
  • Criminal Identification
  • DNA Management
  • Document examination
  • Drug Analysis
  • Fire and Explosion
  • Fingerprint Sciences
  • Vehicle Examination

See the Forensic Services Department for more information on each of the listed areas.

Typical duties

Forensic examiners are specialists and work in only one forensic area. The duties will include some from this list (depending if the role requires attending crime scenes and/or performing laboratory examinations):

  • searching and interpreting the scene 
  • recording the crime scene using notes, sketches, photos, video and/or scale drawings
  • collecting items for the forensic exhibit examiners (or may later examine the exhibit themselves)
  • recording item descriptions
  • taking samples from items for testing
  • selecting and performing the appropriate examinations and tests
  • preparing court reports
  • providing the results to the police member investigating the case and giving evidence at court if required.

Tertiary post-graduate research students

All research projects are coordinated through the Office of the Chief Forensic Scientist (OCFS) and focus on the operational needs of forensic science through a variety of co-supervised student projects, from Honours to PhD.  Most projects are biological, chemical and physical science with a few in the field of psychology, the law and criminology.

The OCFS works with the universities in developing the research projects, and OCFS staff act as co-supervisors for the student. This collaboration can be done with any university.

Before approaching the OCFS, consider what area of Forensic Science would suit your specialty. The prospective student supervisor could contact the OCFS to explore project ideas and options. See contacts below.

Undergraduate placements and internships

Tertiary undergraduate placements, unpaid work, internships, research scholarships and paid vacation work options are not offered.

Secondary students and work experience

Unfortunately, the Forensic Services Department is unable to offer any placements to secondary school students. The legal nature of forensic science requires that there is very limited access to exhibits and case notes. The laboratory areas can also be a hazardous environment requiring specialised training due to the presence of blood, drugs and weapons. Victoria Police work experience

Student information days with Forensic Medicine

There are also free student information days held twice a year during school holidays at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine in Southbank. They include presentations by the Victoria Police Forensic Services Department

Resources

Vacancies for Victorian Public Servants (unsworn staff) and Police career information can be found via the Careers section. Job codes for Forensic Offices are FO-2 to FO-6. You can also register to receive information if any vacancies in these categories are advertised.

The Good Universities Guide has information on scientific jobs within the forensic industry.

National Institute of Forensic Science (NIFS) Australia has education and career information

Contacts

The Forensic Services Department has some dedicated email addresses:

Reviewed 04 June 2021

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