Choosing a Career in Forensics

Amy Marsland

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4 May 2023

Getting into the forensic world can be challenging. Even after getting a degree, it can still be a struggle to obtain a job in your desired field. Having such a niche job, people often ask me how I got to where I am today.

Let’s go back to the start. While in college, I began taking an interest in the legal system and psychology, reading case studies in my free time. That’s when I came across the case of John Orr, a fire captain and arson investigator who was convicted of serial arson and four counts of murder. If you are in the fire industry, you may be familiar with this case. I began exploring the idea of a career in forensic and arson investigation. The combination of fire dynamics, human behaviour and problem-solving sparked my interest.

I studied forensic and analytical science at University, as I felt this would give a good overview of the forensic industry and open more doors in the future. During this time, I was exposed to a wide variety of disciplines, including crime scene investigation, genetics, biology, chemistry and laboratory work.

After university, I worked for two years in a laboratory where I became familiar with fixing analytical equipment and testing. Yet, I was still seeking a career where I could feel challenged. I then became intrigued by the unpredictability, challenges and learning involved with fire investigation, which I had only learned about briefly in my courses.

While working in the laboratory, I started volunteering on the weekend at a place that ran crime scene experience days for the public. I eventually began running the events, working alongside people from various backgrounds, including police, forensic scientists and crime scene investigators.

As I began networking there, I met a retired fire investigator who shared stories about his time in the field. Over time, I made more contacts within the industry, ultimately reaching out to police departments and fire brigades to inquire about graduate, apprenticeship and work experience opportunities.

Looking to advance my education, I began taking the course ‘Practical fire investigation’, provided by the Fire Service College, even though I was not employed in the field. Taking this course firmly established that fire investigation was the career for me. I absorbed all the course information, utilising this knowledge when tasked with excavating my first fire scene. After the course, I stayed in touch with the course leaders, making a habit to message for advice and information in my job pursuit.

After joining professional organisations and spending my evenings studying and job hunting, I finally found a graduate opportunity in Ireland. I applied immediately and got the job! Since joining Jensen Hughes in November 2021, I have attended over 50 cases, gained a wide range of experience and progressed in my career.

Headshot of Amy Marsland

About the author

Amy Marsland
As part of the forensics team, Amy has had the opportunity to expand her experience and knowledge by assisting on a variety of commercial and residential investigations.