Anytime you want to get to the heart of a problem you need someone with expertise in that field. In every industry, there are people whose job is to understand every technical aspect of a subject. When you need answers that’s who you call.
Many people are familiar with the term forensics. We most often hear it in terms of solving a crime. The forensics team explores everything from fingerprints to clothing fibers and helps nail the criminal.
A forensic engineer is similar. Their job is to explore why things fail. This specialized profession is in great demand and pays well.
There is a required level of education. However, to succeed you’ll need skills that can’t be taught in a classroom. What sets them apart from others is intuition that a lot of people aren’t born with.
Keep reading to learn more about forensic engineering and how to connect with an engineer.
What is A Forensic Engineer?
A forensic engineer is a professional who is called in to determine how and why something failed. Their expertise is used in automotive accidents, machine failures and also structure failures.
When you see a forensic engineer on site they have been brought in to give their expertise to determine legal liability. The three things they are trained to evaluate is whether the failure is the result of sabotage, faulty parts, or normal wear and tear.
Their job is two-fold. The first order of business is to determine what happened. The second is to understand why.
The engineer has the ability to conduct multiple tests to reenact events to recreate the failure. After carefully examining every aspect of an accident a comprehensive report is generated that is used in investigations and court cases.
Education and Training
To become an engineer in any field requires education and training. For candidates in the field of forensic engineering, you must complete a four-year college degree.
The course of study covers specific areas. The focus will be on the fundamentals of engineering, network and digital forensics, and structural analysis.
Individuals can continue their education in both masters and doctorate programs. Upon completion of their formal training, a four-year apprenticeship is needed to receive their desired professional certification.
What are Career Options?
There are many industries that rely on forensic engineering. With the proper education and training, those with the proper credentials can enter both the private and public sectors.
The field offers various career paths and some of them pay quite well.
Someone going into the automotive and transportation arena will investigate automotive accidents. They will reconstruct the accidents and check for internal failures using data retrieval and doing biomechanical analysis.
For careers in construction and fire safety, the engineer may work as a building inspector for the local government. They inspect fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and make sure structures meet fire safety requirements.
In the private sector, an engineer is hired to create fire models that explore the potential for fire hazards. Their training allows them to assess the potential outcomes of a major fire and what steps should be taken to minimize casualties and damage.
Insurance companies use forensic experts to analyze car, structural, and mechanical failures to mitigate damages.
Other areas where someone can find positions include the technology, electrical, and energy resource industries. If you are not sure which industry you want to go into, consider apprenticeships in two or more sectors.
Why Would You Need an Engineer?
In the business sector, a forensic engineer is necessary for product development teams because of their analytical abilities. The engineer can create pre and post-testing to measure the durability and reliability of the product.
Private consumers will hire someone trained in forensic engineering to test structural damages to their home. This is often done when a home’s foundation is compromised.
Government sectors rely on forensic engineering for analysis when major catastrophes happen. These include anything from a bridge collapsing to a dam breach. They also provide quantitative structural assessment in buildings, new and old.
The need for expert testimony in lawsuits is another reason why someone would need forensics help. Often times court cases are won solely on the testimony of expert witnesses. An engineer that can build a reputation based on his expertise can make a lucrative living this way.
How to Find a Forensic Professional?
If you are looking to hire an independent contractor you will need to be clear on what your requirements are. Understand the field of expertise you will need. There are companies you can contact who provide listings of engineers in your area.
You will need to submit a job proposal and include a budget. Contractors, in most cases, can bid on the proposal.
Check the educational and affiliation credentials of the candidates you interview. Most forensic engineers are members of the American Society of Engineers and the National Academy of Forensic Engineers.
What is the Average Salary?
Salaries for forensic engineers can vary. It depends on experience, sector, and level of analysis that will be required.
On average the starting salary starts around $55K annually. The median income for someone with work experience and years on the job is upwards of $100K. The potential earnings can far exceed six-figures depending on the company and the assigned tasks the engineer will perform.
Location is also something to consider. Geographical location plays a part in salaries. Consider the various industries and which states have a higher demand for your skill set and expertise.
There are many things to consider when positioning yourself for a career in forensic engineering. Your education and training will prepare you to make the best decisions.
Do You Need a Forensic Engineer?
Now that you have a better understanding of what a forensic engineer does you may realize that you need one. There is no law saying that only law enforcement or manufacturers can hire an engineer.
If you’re looking for the right licensed professional engineer for hire we have what you need. Click here for a free quote.