Investigating Forensic Science Colleges
Forensic Science Colleges - a guide to getting started in an exciting field. Over the last decade, the forensic science field has seen unprecedented growth, as an increasing number of students apply to forensic science colleges. This may be largely due to the success of the CSI television series, which has glamorized the profession, and given it a place in pop culture it has not previously experienced.
In reality, forensic science is not about blue-lit laboratories and melodramatic plot lines, but about finding the answers to questions that are of interest to the legal system.
Because of the greater demand, admission is becoming increasingly competitive and more prospective students are being turned away from their preferred college or university. If you are hoping to apply to a forensics program, it is important to know what you are getting into. While finding the right program may take some research, the questions and answers posed in this article should get you on your way to starting in any of the careers in forensic science.
What Do Forensic Scientists Do?
Many people who graduate from forensic science colleges hope to become forensic chemists or biologist. These scientists apply their vast knowledge of chemistry and biology to the analysis of evidence used in criminal or civil cases. Contrary to popular belief, crime scene investigators and criminal justice experts do not only deal with dead bodies, but may deal with evidence from many different types of crimes.
Forensic scientists may use communications and information systems and cutting edge forensic technology, along with the principles of physical and natural science, to analyze evidence. The evidence may pertain to law enforcement, homeland security or other criminal investigations. Forensic scientists may also be called on in court to testify as expert witnesses and may be required to train law enforcement personnel in the correct handling of evidence.
What Goes on in a Crime Laboratory?
Those who have obtained degrees from forensic science colleges may find jobs in a crime lab. The laboratory itself is split up into five different sections.
The Physical Science Unit deals with physical evidence and analyzes it through the principles of physics, chemistry and geology. The Biology Unit deals with biological evidence such as blood and hair samples. The Firearms Unit analyzes evidence such as discharged bullets and shotgun shells. The Documents Unit investigates documents using skills such as handwriting analysis. The Photographic Unit deploys special photographic technology to help in the analysis of evidence.
Crime laboratories offer a range of services outside of the five main units as well. Fingerprint and voice print analysis are important parts of any forensic lab, as are toxicology and evidence collection. Many labs also offer polygraph services, and require trained individuals to administer the tests.
There are different kinds of forensic science technician jobs. These include crime scene technicians, lab technicians, evidence room technicians, fingerprint identification technicians, and photographic technicians.
Can a Degree in Criminal Justice Get Me a Job Outside of the Crime Laboratory?
Forensic science degrees can result in a number of careers outside of the laboratory. Some forensic science colleges and universities will offer programs geared towards paralegal, corrections or counseling work. Many prefer these careers, as they only require a certificate or associate's degree instead of a full bachelor's degree or master's degree. Those with the highest level of education often choose careers in forensic psychology, pathology, entomology, anthropology or engineering, among others.
What Type of Education Do I Need to Start My Career?
Because of the wide range of services offered by crime labs, employees are needed who have all levels of education. Many classes offered by forensic science colleges are completed quickly and can earn students a certificate or associate diploma. These can lead to a criminal justice career, which can include jobs such as lab assistant or crime scene technician, and may include office or communications work.
Those who graduate with a bachelor or masters degree in Chemistry, Physics or Biology from forensic science colleges and universities have the greatest chance of finding a high level job in forensics. Microscopy, statistics and lab work classes are all particularly beneficial for those who want to work in a crime lab. Computer classes and public speaking workshops may also help, depending on your desired career.
Make sure to get your training from a program accredited by FEPAC, the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission.
How Do I Find a Program?
Our website search function provides lists of schools that offer programs in all types of forensic science. Whether looking at state universities or specialized colleges, it is important to make sure that your program has been properly accredited. All the schools in our databse are accredited. Our search will also provide the contact information for the school's admissions center. If you have questions or requests, it is usually the admissions center that responds with an answer.
It is also a good idea to talk to professional forensic scientists to ask them which programs are currently considered the best. Be sure to specify if you would prefer to go to school in the North, South, East or West, and if you want to receive a bachelor's or master degree, or even a PhD. If you want to obtain your BS and work in a crime lab, for example, talk to someone who has gone through that exact learning process to make sure you get the most accurate information.
Which Christian Forensic Science Colleges Have the Best Forensic Science Programs?
Many students who receive scholarships from churches or religious groups wonder if there are Christian colleges with good forensic science programs. In fact, there are a number of high profile Christian colleges that offer courses in all areas of forensic science. Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania, Loyola College's New Orleans and Chicago campuses, and Chaminade College in Honolulu are all known for their crime studies programs.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Prepare While I Am in High School?
The most important thing you can do is graduate. A high school diploma, or its equivalent, is one of the minimum eligibility requirements for most forensic science programs. It is a good idea to take as many Math and Science classes as possible, and to develop writing and public speaking skills. Organization and management skills are valuable, as are tech design skills.
In your free time, you can visit a courthouse during trial to gain a better understanding of how law is practiced. While the field is competitive, hard work and dedication may well gain you access to forensic science colleges.