Forensic FAQs

The entire gamut of scientific disciplines comes into play in currently popular television shows like Forensic Files (A&E), Crime Scene Investigator (CBS) and The New Detectives: Case Studies in Forensic Science (Discovery Channel). If you are unfamiliar with these shows, think of famous book detectives like Sherlock Holmes or Miss Jane Marple who use science to catch “bad guys” and keep “good guys” out of jail. Forensic scientists work in sophisticated crime laboratories each day on real investigations to examine, identify, evaluate, and objectively describe evidence from actual crimes. The work of forensic scientists produces clues to track down criminals, free the innocent, and convict the guilty. People who join the Illinois State Police as a forensic scientist trainee become part of this exciting and rewarding profession.

Drug Chemistry Presence of controlled substances and the identification of marijuana.
Trace Chemistry Identification and comparison of materials from fires, primer gun-shot residue, , paints, and fibers.
Toxicology Presence of drugs and poisons in tissue, blood, urine and other body fluids.
Biology/DNA Presence and comparison of physiological fluids and dried stains such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid and saliva.
Latent Prints Identification and comparison of hidden impressions from sources like fingers, palms, or feet.
Firearms & Toolmarks Examination and comparison of fired bullets, discharged cartridge cases/shotshells, firearms, gunpowder patterns, and marks left on objects by burglary tools like a pry bar or screwdriver. The section also restores obliterated serial numbers on firearms and identifies impressions left by shoes and tire treads

The State of Illinois, Department of Central Management Services(not the Illinois State Police) sets the forensic scientist trainee's starting salary. Trainees are paid to learn and satisfactorily progress to become a competent, independent forensic scientist. Pay PlanOpens in new window scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link for the "Pay Plan". The correct salary plan ends in the letter 'B.'

The letter inviting you to interview will detail what you must bring with you.

The DFS, FSC tends to use three-person interview teams. Whenever possible, the Command conducts interviews at its headquarters in Springfield. Interview teams ask all applicants the same questions.

The Forensic Scientist Trainee is assigned full-time to the statewide training program. The successful completion of the training program requires a mastery of theoretical knowledge, a mastery of analytical skills, a demonstration of technical competency, and the ability to interpret and translate complex scientific terminology. Daily activities are dedicated to the completion of a discipline-specific training program. The daily training activities are comprised of lectures, quizzes, independent study, practical exercises, written and practical criterion tests, mock trials, and supervised casework. A trainee will spend the entire day in one or a combination of such activities.

Forensic scientists are covered by an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union contract. Assuming satisfactory performance, union negotiated progression through forensic scientist job titles follows this course:

  • Hired as a Forensic Scientist Trainee - Promoted to Forensic Scientist I upon successful completion of their training program.
  • Works as a Forensic Scientist I for two years. Promoted to Forensic Scientist II.
  • Works as a Forensic Scientist II for two years. Promoted to Forensic Scientist III.
  • Works as a Forensic Scientist III for the remainder of career, or accepts promotion to a management job title.

Before we offer you a job as a forensic scientist trainee, we consider your discipline preference, our needs, and the scientific field in which we feel you are best suited to work.

The contract between AFSCME and the State of Illinois controls how the ISP fills vacant jobs. Senior level employees can ask to transfer to open positions. When we offer you a job, you will be told, 1) your training laboratory, and 2) your permanent laboratory assignment upon successful completion of training. As you gain seniority, you will have the opportunity to bid on open positions at other laboratories.

All laboratory administrators know their area service providers for apartments, townhouses, and homes. These local agents can help you find a good place to live.

New employees are responsible for their moving costs to their assigned training laboratory and, subsequently, to their permanent assigned laboratory.

  • Holidays:Opens in new window Twelve paid holidays per year.
  • Vacation: New employees earn vacation time on a monthly basis for a total of ten paid days per year.
  • Personal Days: Three paid days off for matters that arise unexpectedly
  • Sick Leave: One day accumulating for each month's service.
  • Bereavement leave: Up to two paid days for defined ‘immediate family’.
  • Maternity/Paternity Leave: At the birth/adoption of a child, 50 consecutive working days off for the mother or father.
  • Military Leave: The time required to comply with United States Armed Services and National Guard duty.
  • Family and Medical Leave: Up to 12 unpaid months off for conditions covered by The Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Insurance: Coverage under Illinois' health, life, vision and dental insurance programs, and paycheck deductions at low group rates for similar coverage for your family. Additional information can be obtained at: CMS Group InsuranceOpens in new window
  • Workers Compensation: If you are injured or become ill as a result of your employment.
  • Unemployment Compensation: Partial payment for loss of wages.
  • Retirement Program: New employees automatically become members in the State Employees Retirement System (SERS). New members to SERS are vested after ten years of service. Additional information on the state's retirement and pension program can be obtained at: SERS Opens in new windowsite.
  • Deferred Compensation: Optional 457 and/or Roth 457 retirement plan. Additional information can be obtained at: Deferred Compensation SiteOpens in new window
  • Sick Leave Bank: Assistance meeting emergencies from catastrophic illness or injuries.
  • Wellness Program: Assistance obtaining a healthy lifestyle through professional advice related to nutritional, physical, mental and emotional matter.
  • The Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) offers the Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) Program comprised of the Medical Care Assistance Plan (MCAP) and the Dependent Care Assistance Plan (DCAP). CMS FSAOpens in new window

Forensic Scientists and laboratory system administrators target job fairs at most Illinois college/universities with programs in natural science and forensic science. The ISP maintains a Forensic Science web site. To find recruiting information, Forensic Services Career BrochureOpens in new window