California residents with an interest in becoming professional forensic scientists should know that this is one of those jobs that will absolutely require an education.

In fact, most forensic scientists currently working in the state possess at least a bachelor’s degree in a related area, with many possessing master’s level or even doctoral level degrees.

The degree that you will need will depend heavily upon the exact job that you wish to have in the field, and you can’t really have an idea of what that job is until you have done some real research.

Yes, the very first step toward earning a degree in forensic science and starting down your career path is to determine what job in the field you would like to have. You will likely be surprised at the vast amount of different positions available, but take the time to learn at least a little about each of them. When you do happen to come across jobs that are of special interest to you, make sure that you pay special attention to those jobs and that you spend time learning about their various requirements and responsibilities.

When you have an idea of the job that you want, then it is time to start building your educational plans and goals, preferably around the job that you have decided upon and its various requirements. You should first think about what level degree you want to pursue initially. For some, earning an associate’s degree from a community college or a trade or technical school is a great starting point. While a few very entry level positions in the field can be obtained with only an associate’s degree, in most cases, you will want to transfer your earned credits to an accredited undergraduate degree program.

Or, you can just plan on earning your bachelor’s degree from the start at a traditional college or university. For those for whom a traditional learning experience isn’t a good fit, there are lots of wonderful online schools out there. There are, however, a lot of scams, so it is important to be selective and to make sure you choose a legitimate, fully accredited online school.

Though online schools get an unfairly bad reputation, they have many positive aspects, such as typically being cheaper and quicker to earn than traditional degrees from standard colleges and universities.

Once you know what you want to major in, the level of degree you want, and the type of school you want to attend, it is really just a matter of finding and then applying to the right schools. The application process will typically involve you answering lots of questions about yourself, often in essay and short answer format, and paying an application fee.

It is always a good idea to apply to several schools at a time when possible, and to have a few safety schools on the backburner in addition to your top choices. This will help to guarantee you a spot at least one educational institution.

Keep in mind that once you have a bachelor’s degree under your belt, you can always choose to continue your education, which can lead to many more job opportunities and to salary increases. Also, don’t worry if your undergraduate degree is in an unrelated field. Many master’s level programs will accept those from diverse academic backgrounds. Once you have a master’s degree, you can even go on to earn your PhD if you desire, paving the way to the most prestigious and the most lucrative positions in the field.