Firearms examination is a highly specialized field of forensic science. These skilled examiners can assist detectives and criminal investigators by using their extensive knowledge and expertise to identify the weapon used and provide vital information about how gun crimes were committed. In addition to pinpointing the precise weapon used in a crime by comparing a fired bullet to the barrel of a particular gun, they can also determine the trajectory of a bullet, the distance a shooter was from the target, whether or not a discharge was accidental, the position a shooter was in when he or she fired a weapon, and – perhaps most importantly – the distance a shooter was from the target.
The majority of forensic science undergraduate degree programs are built around chemistry, biology, or physics. Some programs offer training in each of these areas, while others might concentrate primarily on just one. In order to understand how objects move and interact with one another, ballistics experts need a foundation in physics, as well as a knowledge of chemistry (to recognize chemical residues connected with firearms examinations). They also require a solid grasp of mathematics in order to calculate trajectory angles and bullet speed. Ballistics experts need to have some knowledge of biology or human anatomy because bullets frequently pass through victims.
The following step after receiving a Bachelor of Science is to look for an apprenticeship with an experienced forensic expert. Students receive on-the-job instruction in evidence gathering, documentation, and other procedural rules as apprentices. Before selecting field specialties, students typically receive general training in all areas at this level.
Forensic Science Technicians are classified under one category by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As a result, this is a broad field that encompasses all forensics professionals. In 2012, the BLS reported that the median annual wage was $52,840, with a 6% growth/change rate projected through 2022. According to another website, the average salary for crime scene investigators in 2010 was between $37,332 and $100,465. Of course, salaries vary by state and experience level.
If you’ve been hooked on watching CSI, you might start acting instead of just watching. You must first obtain a degree in forensic science, then complete in-depth training in firearms and ballistics, and finally, you must pass an extensive background check. You’ll be on the path to becoming a true crime scene investigator once you’ve completed all of those!
Fundamentals of Ballistics
What do ballistics engineers do?
There are different kinds of ballistics engineers. Some of them are forensic ballistics experts, who work with criminal investigators to gather evidence involving weapons from crime scenes. They could identify firearms, examine gunshot remnants, and work out where the shooter was. Other ballistics engineers design and construct mechanisms for the government and military. Here are some typical tasks performed by ballistics engineers, though specific job responsibilities may vary:
What is ballistics engineering?
The study of projectiles, particularly long-range munitions like bullets and rockets, is known as ballistic engineering. These rockets can be missiles, spacecraft, or aircraft, and they can be used for a variety of things, such as satellites, ejection seats, weapons, fireworks, or space exploration. Ballistics engineers and scientists study how objects are propelled, fly, and impact. In order to learn how to apply force to power and launch objects into space, they study classical mechanics. In order to successfully predict trajectories, they also study the laws of motion and gravity and use mathematics. People in this position conduct research, create projectiles, test them, and build them to ensure their effectiveness.
Here are the four primary components of ballistics engineering:
What is a ballistics engineering degree?
A degree in ballistics engineering is a certification that attests to your academic preparation for the field. Those pursuing this degree gain knowledge in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Even though obtaining a bachelor’s degree is typical, many students also pursue master’s degrees in order to increase their employment opportunities, impress potential employers, and bargain for higher pay. Students with a degree in forensic science can use it to build weapons, build rockets and spacecraft, or perform forensic work during criminal investigations.
Even though not all educational institutions specifically offer ballistics engineering programs, you can pursue another engineering degree, like mechanical or electrical, and take elective courses in ballistics. Additionally, you could decide to study forensic ballistics and obtain a degree in forensic science or criminal justice. This, along with additional education and experience, can usually make you qualified for a position as a ballistics engineer. The following are some classes you might take while earning a degree in ballistics:
Understanding how objects move and interact with other objects and forces is useful for those researching projectiles, weapons, rockets, and related mechanisms. This relates to the study of physics, which is a science about matter, motion, and how matter behaves in both space and time. To create mathematical models and abstractions to forecast natural occurrences, ballistics students may also take theoretical physics courses. This may involve learning about laser technology and nuclear power.
Any engineering discipline requires a significant amount of mathematics to investigate phenomena, make predictions, and create designs. Students studying ballistics examine and estimate trajectory angles, bullet speeds, and projectile velocity using numbers, graphs, and calculations. They might enroll in math-focused courses like geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.
In order to understand how mechanisms work, it is necessary for ballistics engineering students to take engineering courses. You can learn about a wide variety of engineering fields of study and careers. Here are some engineering courses you could encounter:
Chemistry is a prerequisite for many degrees in science, math, and related fields, but it’s also crucial for ballistics science. People in this field need to comprehend numerous substances related to projectiles and firearms, as well as how these substances interact and react with other materials. By having this information, ballistics engineers can make people-safe tools and other products. Students in this area may also take organic chemistry.
Because engineers use computers and software on a daily basis to complete tasks, computer science is a crucial component of engineering education. Students in ballistics can enroll in this course to gain a basic understanding of how to use computer systems, design CAD blueprints, and experiment with hardware and systems. Even more cutting-edge technologies like 3D printing and artificial intelligence might be taught to them. They can make high-quality, technically perfect projectiles with the aid of these tools.
Ballistics and crime-solving enthusiasts can take forensic science classes. These kinds of programs can get them ready for a career helping investigators, police forces, and governments gather and examine crucial weapon-related evidence from crime scenes. They can use indicators like shells and gunshot residue to determine the precise type of weapon. Additionally, they can monitor a shooter’s angle, distance, and location, as well as the trajectory of a bullet. To learn more about crimes and the justice system, those interested in this profession can take criminology and criminal justice classes.
Ballistics students may be given the chance to take electives in ballistics, firearms, or related fields in addition to the general requirements and necessary engineering and science courses. They could study guided-missile engineering, combat vehicle engineering, or armament engineering, for instance. These give them the opportunity to learn specific information about weapons while pursuing their individual interests. To learn more about the background of the ballistics study, these students may also enroll in courses in military technology and history.
What training does a ballistics engineering student complete?
Ballistics engineering students typically gain on-the-job training in addition to their academic education by taking part in an internship before graduating. This can provide them with priceless practical experience in tasks like research, lab experiments, and manufacturing. They can also learn to adhere to industry regulations. Ballistics students frequently work for a government agency as research assistants in the forensics or security fields. They can receive guidance and mentorship from an experienced professional, such as a small-arms specialist, and learn more about a related subspecialty. To further their education, students may also pursue certification and licensure.
What degree is needed to be a weapons engineer?
While each field has its own requirements, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering—for example, in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or optical engineering—to become a weapons engineer.
What is a ballistics engineer?
A ballistics expert is a forensic specialist who is in charge of gathering and examining ballistics-related evidence, such as firearms and ammunition. They are also sometimes referred to as forensic ballistics experts or firearms examiners.
How much does a ballistic engineer make?
The majority of Ballistics Engineer salaries currently range between $110,500 (25th percentile) and $137,000 (75th percentile), with top earners (90th percentile) making $145,000 annually across the United States, despite ZipRecruiter seeing annual salaries as high as $150,500 and as low as $46,000.
What does a weapon engineer do?
A person who designs weapons and artillery is known as a weapon engineer. They create new systems and tools for various branches of the armed forces and for businesses in the private sector by utilizing their expertise in electrical and mechanical engineering.