Forensic science combines science and investigation in order to aid and support the prosecution or defense in criminal and civil investigations. While the profession has been widely romanticized by various TV shows, make no mistake – this job is most likely different that you expect. In contrast with popular perception, this is a highly scientific role, which often involves detailed, painstaking work. Field duties are limited to a few areas of expertise, and most often than not a forensic scientist will spend his time in the lab.
If you made it this far, though, congratulations! You’re taking the first steps in joining a very rewarding profession and itsGOV is here to guide you through what you need to know and what you need to do to join a forensic science program in Alabama.
Depending on the type of forensic science practiced, different degrees and educational backgrounds may help a candidate get a job and excel in this field. Regarding formal education, requirements vary across jobs, but you should definitely have a solid background in mathematics, biology and chemistry.
The National Institute of Justice, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, offers guidelines for model undergraduate and graduate forensic science degree programs. According to the American Academy of Forensic Science, strong programs should offer a curriculum that concentrates on scientific writing, laboratory skills, public speaking, and computer software application training.
Forensic Science Requirements in Alabama
While there are a number of great reasons to choose to follow a career in forensics, Alabama has only a single brick-and-mortar school that has a forensics program. Despite this, job growth for the forensic science technician occupation in the state in still anticipated, and could provide opportunities to graduates of forensic science colleges in Alabama and elsewhere. As well, the quality of the school in Alabama offering the degree is high, and it can be a good place to seek an education in forensic science. Students looking for additional information about employment and training resources in the forensic science field, can turn to the website of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). Another resource for students interested in forensics colleges in Alabama and elsewhere is the website of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. The site offers information on training, publications, and employment opportunities.
Forensic Science Training in Alabama
As of May 2012, 210 people were employed in the state as forensic science technicians, and earning mean annual wages of $41,750, according to information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth in the state from 2010 to 2020 is anticipated at 14 percent, according to information from Career One Stop, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. Most of the employees working in this field in the state are working in the larger cities such as Birmingham. However, graduates of forensic science schools in Alabama and other states can look anywhere in the U.S. for job opportunities. Indeed, nationwide growth in the occupation is expected to reach 19 percent from 2010 to 2020.
Forensic Science Salary in Alabama
The field of forensic sciences has a number of specialties, ranging from DNA analysis by lab technicians to crime scene investigation. According to the Alabama Department of Labor, employment for forensic scientists in the state is expected to grow by 1.41% a year from 2010 to 2020, creating thirty new forensics jobs.
Forensic scientists work throughout the state of Alabama. A number of law enforcement agencies have crime labs that employ such professionals, and the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences has crime labs all over the state. This includes the following cities:
In 2010, a forensic investigator I/II state position paid from $33,068 to $62,530 a year, depending on the applicant’s level of experience.
Crime scene investigator salaries vary greatly, depending on the type of position. While some CSIs are sworn officers with special training in forensics, others are civilians who fill positions such as criminalists or crime scene examiner. These forensic science technicians may specialize in areas such as latent fingerprint or blood pattern analysis.
The 2013 pay grade for a latent fingerprint examiner in Montgomery started at $38,734 and increased to $55,138 a year after 13 years on the job.
Forensic Science Schools and Colleges in Alabama
Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Alabama
|University||Jacksonville State University, Forensic Investigations Concentration B.S.|
|Type||Full time, Part time|
|Tuition and fees||$17,280 per year|
The Department of Criminal Justice merges the liberal arts and professional studies into a well-balanced curriculum. A Bachelor of Science with a major in Criminal Justice is a solid foundation for law school or graduate study in addition to being a superb preparation for employment in the rapidly-growing field of criminal justice. The core courses provide a basic understanding of the nature of crime and society’s reaction to crime, as well as an in-depth explanation of the various components within the Criminal Justice System. The areas of concentration provide knowledge and skills for future employment, and serve as a basis for advanced studies. The concentration in Forensic Investigations prepares students for careers as criminal investigators and/or crime scene technicians. Provides insights into basic investigative, as well as specialized, skills in drug, homicide, sex offenses, child abuse, and arson investigations. The main theme of Forensic Investigations, however, is crime scene processing, identification and collection of physical evidence, and the presentation of evidence into a court of law. The core modules are:
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Criminal Law
- Theories of Crime Causation
- Criminal Courts
- Senior Seminar I
- Introduction to Law Enforcement
- Introduction to Forensic Investigations
- Homicide Investigation
- Criminal Investigations
Department of Criminal Justice majors that have completed the CJ core curriculum and a concentration have met the requirements for a major in Criminal Justice. Criminal Justice majors must obtain a minor from outside the department. Students selecting the Forensic Investigations concentration must select a minor in one of the following disciplines: Accounting, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, Finance, Geography, Physics, or Psychology. Chemistry is the minor most highly recommended. A second minor in Spanish is encouraged. The Bachelor of Science with a major in Forensic Investigations requires compliance with the general academic regulations, including the following: a minimum of 128 hours consisting of 50 hours of General Studies courses, 18 hours of Criminal Justice core courses, 24 hours in a Criminal Justice concentration, and 36 hours of minor and elective courses.
Master’s Degree Programs in Alabama
There are currently no master’s degrees on forensic science in Alabama.