To become a forensic engineer, you'll need at least a 4-year degree in engineering. If you want to be a forensic engineer in a specific specialty, you'll want to major in the relevant sub-field of engineering; some engineering specialties include electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering and computer engineering. Common courses in engineering include introduction to engineering, systems, distributed systems and fields, advanced mathematics and control theory; there is more specialized coursework for each engineering specialty.
Licensure and Certification
In addition to the required education, to become a forensic engineer, you'll need first to become a licensed engineer in the state in which you hope to be employed; licensure requirements vary by state, but they typically require several years of experience and culminate in the successful completion of the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Once you're a licensed engineer, you can complete the process to certify your specialty in forensic engineering; according to the International Institute of Forensic Engineering Sciences, this is a year-long process, where you'll show your experience in forensic engineering, fitness in technical knowledge and ethics and complete an oral and written exam.
Forensic engineers need a firm understanding of the scientific method in order to apply those principles to their investigations. Their jobs require an attention to detail and critical thinking, as well as the ability to communicate clearly, both verbally and in writing, for the purposes of gathering information about incidents and reporting their findings.
Economic and Employment Outlook
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), employment in engineering will grow by about 9% from 2012-2022, a little slower than the average for all occupations. Median annual salaries for forensic engineers will vary by where they are employed and their specialty within engineering, but ranged from around $79,000-$85,000 in May 2012.