Background Checks

Personal choices and future employment in the forensic sciences

Forensic science students often seek careers in government laboratories, law enforcement agencies or elsewhere in the criminal justice system. Employment positions in forensic science often involve handling evidence in criminal cases and providing testimony in court. Therefore, many agencies conduct extensive background investigations to determine whether an applicant is suitable for employment in the field.

The criteria used to determine suitability varies among employers. However, many agencies examine an applicant’s criminal history, prior drug use and responsibility with credit obligations.

It is imperative that applicants provide truthful and complete responses to all questions asked during a background investigation. While certain prior conduct may result in automatic disqualification for employment consideration, it is certain that dishonesty during the application process will disqualify an applicant. Agencies might overlook prior mistakes and experimentation, but current dishonesty is incompatible with positions in which an employee’s credibility is paramount.

Job applicants in forensic science fields undergo complete background investigations. The following areas are typically examined:

  • felony convictions, and misdemeanor convictions involving “moral turpitude”
  • credit history
  • certain types of illegal drug use or possession

Employer criteria regarding prior drug use vary greatly. Some agencies preclude employment based on any prior drug use. Students should check individual employer criteria regarding specific disqualifying conduct. Some federal agencies preclude employment if an applicant has used any illegal drug, even marijuana. However, some agencies consider the context in which applicants have used illegal drugs. For example, some agencies preclude employment even if the prior drug use falls outside of their automatic disqualifying range when the applicant used drugs while employed in a position related to the public trust. The faculty strongly suggests that students consider their forensic science education as relating to the public trust and act accordingly.