Career Development

What Does a Forensic Engineer Do?

Find out what a forensic engineer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a forensic engineer.

Forensic engineers are highly specialized professionals who work in the field of engineering. They’re tasked with investigating and analyzing evidence from crime scenes to determine how it was created, what caused it, and who may have been involved.

Forensic engineers use a wide range of tools and techniques to accomplish this goal. They commonly rely on computer software programs to create 3D models of crime scenes or other locations where evidence was found. This allows them to analyze the scene from every angle and determine exactly how objects were placed at the time of the incident.

Forensic Engineer Job Duties

Forensic engineers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Designing, building, and implementing solutions to improve structural integrity and safety in buildings, roads, bridges, dams, and other infrastructure
  • Conducting investigations of accidents or disasters to determine causes and contributing factors
  • Conducting site surveys and creating plans and designs for new construction projects
  • Using computer modeling programs to simulate physical forces such as wind loads, seismic activity, or impact from vehicles
  • Preparing reports with findings and recommendations that can be used as evidence in court proceedings
  • Conducting tests on materials such as concrete and steel to determine their strength and durability
  • Analyzing data from physical experiments or computer simulations to determine if structures meet safety standards
  • Evaluating structural damage caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods
  • Maintaining contact with clients throughout the process of building a new structure

Forensic Engineer Salary & Outlook

Forensic engineers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of work they do. Those who work in private industry typically earn more than those who work for government agencies or law enforcement.

  • Median Annual Salary: $86,500 ($41.59/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)

The employment of forensic engineers is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

The need for forensic engineers will increase as more cases involving complex scientific evidence are heard in courtrooms across the country. Forensic engineers will be needed to testify about topics such as DNA analysis, bloodstain pattern analysis, and digital forensics.

Related: Forensic Engineer Interview Questions and Answers

Forensic Engineer Job Requirements

A forensic engineer typically has the following qualifications:

Education: Most forensic engineers have at least a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, civil engineering or a related field. Some forensic engineers earn a master’s degree in forensic science or civil engineering to increase their earning potential and qualify for more advanced positions.

Training & Experience: Forensic engineers receive most of their training through internships and entry-level positions. During an internship, a forensic engineer will work under the supervision of a senior forensic engineer or engineer. They will learn how to perform forensic engineering tasks and how to use forensic engineering software.

Forensic engineers who begin their careers in an entry-level position will receive on-the-job training. They will learn how to use the company’s forensic engineering software and how to perform forensic engineering tasks. They will also learn how to interact with clients and how to prepare forensic engineering reports.

Certifications & Licenses: Although not always required, many employers seek employees who have earned a certification from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers or the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. These certifications demonstrate a professional’s extensive knowledge of engineering principles and the ability to apply that knowledge in real-world scenarios.

Forensic Engineer Skills

Forensic engineers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: Technical skills are the ability to use software, tools and equipment to complete tasks. Forensic engineers use technical skills to analyze data, create models and conduct research.

Communication skills: Forensic engineers often work with other professionals, such as architects, law enforcement and other engineers. Effective communication skills can help you collaborate with these professionals and explain your findings. You can also use your communication skills to write reports and give presentations.

Analytical skills: Analytical skills are the ability to solve problems and make decisions based on the information you have. As a forensic engineer, analytical skills are important for determining the cause of an accident, evaluating the safety of a structure and determining the best course of action to take when investigating a crime scene.

Problem-solving skills: Forensics engineers use their problem-solving skills to find solutions to challenges they face in their work. For example, they may need to find a way to determine the cause of a fire or accident, and they may need to find evidence to support their conclusions.

Investigative skills: As a forensic engineer, you may be required to investigate a scene to determine the cause of an accident or crime. Having investigative skills can help you gather the information you need to make an informed decision.

Forensic Engineer Work Environment

Forensic engineers work in a variety of settings, including private engineering firms, government agencies, and law firms. They may also be self-employed. Many forensic engineers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Forensic engineers who are employed by engineering firms or government agencies may have regular office hours. However, those who are employed by law firms may work longer hours, including evenings and weekends, to prepare for trials or to meet deadlines. Forensic engineers who are self-employed may set their own hours.

Forensic Engineer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how forensic engineers work. Forensic engineers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Diversity in the Forensic Engineering Profession

The forensic engineering profession is still largely dominated by white men, which means that there is a lack of diversity in the field. This is problematic because it prevents forensic engineers from understanding the needs of other communities and creates a culture where only certain types of people are seen as qualified to do the work.

To address this issue, forensic engineers can focus on becoming more involved in their local community and working to create partnerships with organizations that promote diversity. They can also encourage others in the field to become more involved in these efforts.

The Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Forensic Investigations

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more prevalent in forensic investigations, forensic engineers will need to learn how to use AI tools to help them with their work.

One area where AI is already being used is in data mining. By using AI tools, forensic engineers can quickly scan through large amounts of data and find the information that is most relevant to their investigation. This allows them to spend less time searching for information and more time analyzing it.

The Importance of Cybersecurity

As cybersecurity becomes increasingly important, forensic engineers will need to develop expertise in this area. Forensic engineers are responsible for investigating cyberattacks and determining what happened, as well as how to prevent similar attacks in the future.

In order to be successful in this field, forensic engineers will need to be able to understand the latest trends in cybersecurity and how to protect against new threats. They will also need to be able to communicate effectively with other members of the team, such as developers and managers, in order to get the support that they need.

How to Become a Forensic Engineer

A forensic engineer career path can be very rewarding. It offers the opportunity to work on a variety of cases and help solve complex problems. However, it’s important to have the right skills and experience before embarking on this career path.

To become a forensic engineer, you need a degree in engineering and at least two years of experience working as an engineer. You should also have strong communication and problem-solving skills. Additionally, certification from the American Board of Forensic Engineers (ABFE) is recommended.

Advancement Prospects

Forensic engineers may advance in their careers by becoming managers or partners in their firms. Some may also move into related occupations, such as insurance adjusters or investigators.

Forensic Engineer Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we are looking for a Forensic Engineer to support our legal team in investigating accidents and incidents. The Forensic Engineer will be responsible for conducting on-site investigations, analyzing data, and writing reports. He/she will also be responsible for testifying in court as an expert witness, when necessary. The ideal candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, experience in accident reconstruction, and be proficient in using CAD software.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Investigate the cause of structural failures, explosions, fires, and chemical releases to determine liability
  • Conduct on-site inspections and gather evidence following an incident
  • Review data from site inspections, police and fire reports, medical records, and eyewitness accounts
  • Analyze evidence to identify patterns and develop theories about how the incident occurred
  • Prepare reports detailing the findings of the investigation and present them in court
  • Serve as an expert witness during legal proceedings
  • Keep up to date with advances in engineering and technology
  • Stay abreast of changes in relevant laws and regulations
  • Maintain a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
  • Be able to work independently with minimal supervision
  • Be able to work well under pressure and meet deadlines
  • Possess strong analytical and problem-solving skills

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in engineering, preferably with a focus on mechanical or civil engineering
  • 5+ years professional experience in an engineering role, with at least 2 years in forensic engineering
  • Registered Professional Engineer (PE) in the state of practice
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, with aptitude to learn new software and systems

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in engineering
  • 10+ years professional experience in an engineering role, with at least 5 years in forensic engineering
  • Registered Forensic Engineer (RFE)
  • Experience testifying as an expert witness
  • Working knowledge of AutoCAD


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