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 Georgia.
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 Training in Georgia
According to the Bureau of Statistics (BLS), the metropolitan area of Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta ranks eighth in the nation for its employment of forensic scientists. Statewide, Georgia ranked among the nation’s top 10 states for its employment level of forensic scientists.
Georgia is home to a number of colleges and universities that offer study in forensic science. One of the more common programs is a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science, which provides a solid foundation for students seeking careers in:
- Forensic Chemistry
- Forensic Microscopy
- Forensic Toxicology
- Forensic Photography
- Forensic DNA
- Forensic Fingerprinting
Most Bachelor of Science degrees in Forensic Science require students to possess a minimum GPA in all courses taken in their last degree program in high school or college, as well as a minimum SAT score in math.
Forensic scientists working in Georgia through the Division of Forensic Sciences (often referred to as crime lab scientists) are responsible for performing laboratory examinations, on physical evidence submitted by state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies.
Individuals who want to learn how to become a forensic scientist and pursue a career in this field in Georgia must possess, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university that includes at least two college science courses. Additional educational requirements may exist for forensic scientists, depending on the position.
Georgia’s Division of Forensic Sciences, which was established in 1952, is the second oldest state crime laboratory in the nation. The Division of Forensic Sciences provides scientific support to the state’s criminal justice system through the collection, analysis, and interpretation of physical evidence for police officers and other law enforcement officials, investigators, and district attorneys throughout the State of Georgia.
Forensic scientists in Georgia use some of the most current scientific technologies and instrumentation to analyze and interpret physical evidence. These professionals are also responsible for providing expert courtroom testimony.
Forensic Science Requirements in Georgia
Law enforcement agencies across Georgia depend on the evidence gathered by crime scene investigators to solve cases and bring criminals to justice. 2012 numbers show there were 420 employees working in the evidence gathering and analysis field, everywhere from local municipalities to the state Bureau of Investigation.
The following guide will take interested candidates through the process of how to become a crime scene investigator in Georgia. However, be warned that CSI jobs involve real victims of often-times brutal and violent crimes. A career in this field is not a prime time television drama that ends in one hour.
Some primary law enforcement agencies that utilize the skills of CSI agents include:
- Clayton County CSI Unit
- DeKalb County CSI Unit
- Atlanta PD Criminal Investigation Division
- Georgia Bureau of Investigations Division of Forensic Sciences
Forensic Science Salary in Georgia
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 420 forensic science technicians were employed in Georgia in 2012. Over half of all of these jobs were located in the Atlanta area. It had the eighth highest level of employment of forensic scientists of any metropolitan area in the U.S.
he field of forensic sciences is projected to grow from 2010 to 2020 in Georgia according to the state’s Department of Labor. The number of jobs is projected to increase by nine percent in that time frame.
The BLS provides information for the 2012 forensic scientist salary levels in Georgia. They averaged $34,140 in 2012 with those in the top tenth of their field earning $51,790 a year.
Georgia’s Department of Labor provides the average 2012 salaries for forensic science technicians in two of the metropolitan statistical areas of Georgia. They are listed below:
- Atlanta: $51,917
- Augusta: $29,245
They also provide forensic scientist salary data for two of the state’s Workforce Investment Act regions:
- Cobb County: $47,195
- Northeast Georgia: $35,797
In addition to working as lab technicians, many forensic scientists are crime scene investigators (CSIs). They specialize in documenting crime scenes and collecting evidence for further analysis.
Some CSIs are police officers. For instance, crime scene specialists of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are all sworn officers. There is at least one full-time CSI in each of the organization’s fifteen regional offices.
In other cases, the CSI positions are filled by civilians. The 2013 salary for one civilian CSI position in Atlanta in 2013 ranged from $46,310 to $57,888 a year.
Forensic Science Schools and Colleges in Georgia
Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Georgia
|University||Albany State University, Forensic Science B.S.|
|Type||Full time, Part time|
|Tuition and fees||$21,703 in-state; $33,343 out-of-state per year|
The Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Science is the only four-year Forensic Science degree program in Georgia and is housed in the Department of Criminal Justice and Forensic Science. Our Forensic Science program is accredited by the American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFC) accreditation body-Forensic Education Program Accreditation Commission (FEPAC), Forensic Science is the application of scientific methods to crime scene investigation and criminal prosecution. The program is interdisciplinary and is based on the natural sciences; chemistry, physics and biology. This program prepares students for professional careers in crime laboratories as criminalists, trace evidence specialists, serologists, DNA specialists, toxicologists, drug analysts, firearms and fingerprint examiners, staff photographers and evidence technicians. The core modules are:
- Physical Chemistry I and II
- Principles of Physics I and II
- Introduction to Physics
- Behavioral Statistics
- Behavioral Research
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Forensic Microscopy of Trace
- Criminal Evidence/Court Procedure
- Forensic Serology/DNA Techniques
- Forensic Chemistry
- Evidence Analysis/Research I
- Evident Procedure
ASU through its four (4) colleges offers 36 undergraduate and 16 graduate degree programs. These programs are supported by an array of administrative units focusing on student success, enrollment management, research and sponsored programs, military science, internationalization, instructional technology, institutional research, effectiveness and assessment and access to state of the art library resources and facilities.
Our overarching goal is to provide an educational environment where the search for solutions to real world problems, the quest for life-long learning, the respect and value of diversity and the standard of on-going quality improvement serve as the benchmark for all that we do at ASU. I encourage you to explore other parts of the ASU website and to share with us any questions you may have about the University, its programs, resources or services.
|University||University of North Georgia, Forensic Science Concentration B.S.|
|Type||Full time, Part time|
|Tuition and fees||$23,926 per year|
The statements set forth in this catalog are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as the basis of a contract between a student and this institution. While every effort will be made to insure accuracy of the material stated herein, the University of North Georgia reserves the right to change any provision listed in this catalog, including but not limited to academic requirements for graduation, curricula, course offerings, and academic regulations without actual notice to individual students. Every effort will be made to keep students advised of such changes. Students should refer to our web site at www.ung.edu for the most recent update of our catalog. The core modules are:
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- History of Criminal Justice
- Introduction to Sociology
- Introduction to Law Enforcement
- Statistics for Social Sciences
- Criminal Forensics I and II
- Criminal Investigations
- Drug Identification
- Death Investigation
- Criminal Typologies
The University of North Georgia was formed through the consolidation of North Georgia College & State University and Gainesville State College in January 2013. The consolidation was part of a University System of Georgia initiative to increase system efficiencies while increasing educational attainment levels for Georgians. During the same period, six other USG institutions were consolidated into three new institutions. The creation of the University of North Georgia built upon a tradition of excellence at both NGCSU and GSC and the distinct previous missions of those institutions.
Following the Civil War, an abandoned U.S. Mint property in Dahlonega, Ga., was given to the state for educational purposes, thus giving birth to what became North Georgia College & State University. Originally named North Georgia Agricultural College, the institution was established in 1873 as a agricultural and mechanical arts college, focusing particularly in mining engineering. As area gold mining resources were depleted, the college’s mission evolved into one emphasizing arts and sciences. The school was renamed North Georgia College in 1929. The institution received university status in 1996 and was given the name North Georgia College & State University. As a state university, the institution expanded its graduate degree programs and admission to its undergraduate programs became more selective.
The state’s second-oldest institution, NGCSU had the distinction of being the first co-educational college in the state and the first to graduate a woman, in 1878. From its beginning, the university has provided military instruction as an option for its students. The university maintains its designation as a Senior Military College through federal legislation. The university has produced generations of military leaders, including some 40 generals, who have served the United States with honor. Today, the Corps of Cadets continues to be a signature program of the university.
|University||Westwood College, Computer Forensics B.S.|
|Type||Full time, Part time|
|Tuition and fees||$32,343 per year|
As the reliance on computers grows, so does the threat of computer crimes. Attend a computer forensics college in Atlanta and earn a degree that gives you the skills to fight digital threats. Westwood College offers a bachelor’s degree in information and network technologies: major in computer forensics that gives you the tools to design secure networks, collect and analyze digital evidence and manage incident responses.
Course topics in the program include disk based forensics, forensic digital evidence handling and investigation, mobile device analysis and managing malicious software. As a graduate of the hands-on program, you will be trained to secure industry-standard operating systems, design secure computer networks and protect commercial networks from security risks. Westwood’s experienced faculty members will help you become qualified for entry-level positions in the possible career fields of computer forensics, digital evidence handling, information security and malicious software management. The degree in information and network technologies: major in computer forensics is available at both the Westwood College campuses – Atlanta Midtown or Atlanta Northlake. The core modules are:
- Information and Network Technologies
- Introduction to Computer Forensics
- Forensic Digital Evidence Handling and Investigation
- Managing Malicious Software
- Mobile Device Analysis
- Operating System Forensics
- Network Intrusion Detection and Network Forensics
- Forensic Capstone
- Introduction to Network Security
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Criminal Investigations
- Disk Based Forensics
- Database Management Systems
- Linux Systems Administration
- Technical Troubleshooting
- Firewalls and VPNs
- Political Science
The information technology: major in computer forensics program provides the educational background and hands-on experience necessary to successfully begin a career in computer forensics. The faculty of professionals who work in their fields will provide you with the knowledge, training and insight that you’ll use in your career. Program features include:preparation for industry-relevant certificates*, such as Certified Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI), Microsoft® (server, active directory), CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Linux+; courses taught in forensics, networking, and security similar to the training provided to law enforcement and industry forensics professionals techniques for managing computer crime, evidence handling, evidentiary recovery, traffic sniffing, digital forensics, forensic investigation and recovery, and managing malicious software access to Microsoft IT Academy resources, including software and MS Certification review material.
Master’s Degree Programs in Georgia
|University||University at Albany, Forensic Biology M.S.|
|Type||Full time, Part time|
|Tuition and fees||$11,920 in-state; $21,740 out-of-state per year|
The Forensic Biology M.S. degree at the University at Albany involves an unprecedented collaboration and cooperation between the Department of Biological Sciences and the New York State Police Forensic Investigation Center situated adjacent to the university campus.
With the rapid development of advances in modern biology, and because of the precision of the science, courts are apportioning greater weight to physical DNA evidence. This has created a critical need for personnel with specialized training in the field of forensic biology. The core modules are:
- Special Topics in the Biological Sciences
- Cell Biology
- Introduction to Biological Materials
- Population Genetics
- Modern Use of Light Microscopy
- Responsible Conduct and Skills in Research
- Current Literature in Forensic Biology
- Cell and Molecular Developmental Neurobiology
- Forensic DNA Analysis Laboratory
- Advanced Molecular Biology
- Comparative and Evolutionary Immunology
- Molecular Neurobiology
The program’s strong emphasis on the theories and techniques in forensic biology is designed to instruct individuals for scientific careers in various forensic science and conventional analytical laboratories. Graduates of the program can apply to private or public laboratories as DNA Analysts. Students with sufficient work experience could qualify for positions as laboratory supervisors, managers or directors. Graduates will also find the program very useful in pursuing future studies at the Ph. D. level.
Individuals seeking employment, as a forensic scientist in an accredited forensic science laboratory, will normally have to undergo a background check. Depending on the agency or company, the background check may be quite extensive and include a lie detector test, fingerprinting, and drug tests.
Applications are submitted through the Office of Graduate Education and are reviewed when completed. Since a limited number of slots are available, the later the application the less likely it is to receive full consideration. No applications for the Fall semester are considered after August 1.