When it comes to identifying a decomposing body or skeleton, a person who specializes in facial reconstruction, often called a forensic anthropologist, can be a key part of solving the puzzle. A facial sculptor uses clay to sculpt what a person might have looked like based on the bone structure of the face. Certain college courses are required to prepare you to be successful in the field of facial reconstruction.
In addition to the standard core courses required to receive an undergraduate degree, you'll also focus on science-related courses if you plan on specializing in facial reconstruction. Anthropological courses will be required and will include classes in basic anthropology, cultural anthropology and archeology. You'll also take classes in biology, chemistry and forensics.
You will need to pursue a post-graduate degree if you plan to become a forensic anthropologist who specializes in facial reconstruction. You'll take advanced courses in biology and anatomy, according to the University of Florida. Your coursework will include human variation, archeological methods, biophotography and forensic entomology, which is the study of how insects impact the human body after death.
Facial Reconstruction Classes
Much of your coursework will focus on the structure of the human skeleton and anthropological methods related to human bones. You'll also take classes that focus specifically on the facial bones, skull and human head, according to the International Association for Identification. Your coursework will focus on art concepts, age progression, facial proportions, sketch-artist techniques and facial texture variations. You'll likely be required to take classes that teach you how to provide expert courtroom testimony and how to navigate the legal aspects of your career.
One sub-specialty of forensic anthropology is the identification of bodies not related to crimes, such as soldiers and victims of war. If you're interested in this aspect of forensic anthropology, you might take courses related to the identification of bodies outside of facial reconstruction techniques. Forensic artistry courses, such as drawing, might also be required to obtain your diploma and license.
- Occupational Outlook Quarterly: Careers in Forensics: Anaylsis, Evidence, and Law
- University of Florida: C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory
- Louisiana State University: What Is Forensic Anthropology?
- International Association for Identification: Forensic Art Educational Programs Approval Procedure
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.