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 Missouri.
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 scientists in Missouri are responsible for collecting, identifying, and analyzing physical evidence related to criminal investigations. They may perform tests on weapons or substances to determine their significance related to an investigation, and they may also be called upon to testify as an expert witness.
Entry-level forensic scientists must possess at least 60 college credit hours from an accredited college or university, and all candidates must be able to pass a polygraph examination and submit to periodic random drug testing. Further education, professional certification and/or experience may be required for specialized or advanced forensic scientist jobs in Missouri.
Forensic Science Requirements in Missouri
The Crime Lab Division (CLD) of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which was established in 1936—one of the first of its kind in the country—provides forensic science services and technical support to all local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in Missouri, from Kansas City and St. Louis to Springfield and Independence, through the utilization of state-of-the-art equipment and techniques.
The CLD’s central laboratory is located in Jefferson City, with regional labs located in:
- St. Joseph
- Park Hills
- Willow Springs
- Cape Girardeau
Forensic scientists of the Missouri CLD provide the following services to criminal justice and law enforcement agencies within the state:
- DNA Coursework
- Drug Chemistry
- Firearms and Toolmarks
- Latent Prints
- Trace Evidence
Forensic Science Training in Missouri
According to recent statistics by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Division of Career Education, the most common degree for forensic science technicians (45.7 percent) is a bachelor’s degree. It is therefore easy to find a number of degree-granting schools offering bachelor’s degrees in forensic science and related disciplines in Missouri.
Many forensic science bachelor’s degrees also allow students to focus their undergraduate degree on a specific area, thereby preparing them to work in specialized areas of forensic science, such as DNA, toxicology, and latent prints, just to name a few.
Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
A Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science prepares students for careers in forensic science laboratories. This type of degree draws from a number of areas, including the biological sciences, physics, chemistry, and the criminal justice system. As such, it is often considered a cross-disciplinary program, as study is focused in both the scientific and social environments of crime and criminal justice.
Forensic Science Salary in Missouri
Job growth in the field of forensic sciences is promising in Missouri. The state’s Department of Economic Development projects an increase of 14.89% in the availability of forensic science jobs from 2010 to 2020. Of the 188 jobs they expect to become available during this ten year period, 74% are expected to be due to the replacement of people leaving the workforce.In 2012, there were 320 forensic science technicians employed in Missouri according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The annual median wage throughout the state was $45,270 in 2012. Those in the top 90th percentile of their wage bracket made an average of $65,970 that year.
A criminalist specializing in toxicology earned from $48,040 to $52,176 a year in 2013 in Springfield.
Other types of jobs for forensic scientists include processing the evidence at crime scenes to preserve it for further analysis. Such crime scene investigators (CSIs) can be either police officers or detectives with training in forensics or they can be civilians who have some educational background in forensics or criminal justice.
Salaries vary for CSIs depending on their level of experience. According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a crime scene investigator in Missouri was $56,000 in the period from September 2012 to October 2013.
Forensic Science Schools and Colleges in Missouri
Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Missouri
|University||Colorado Technical University, Forensic Investigation Concentration B.S.|
|Type||Full time, Part time|
|Tuition and fees||$14,950 per year|
Students enrolled in Colorado Technical University’s Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Investigation program have the opportunity to learn the skills needed to pursue a career in forensic investigation. Learn more about Colorado Technical University’s Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Investigation program here. Prospective students who are considering applying to Colorado Technical University’s Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Investigation program should have an interest in criminal justice and the process of forensic investigation. Applicants to Colorado Technical University’s programs should have already earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Colorado Technical University’s Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Investigation program is designed to teach students about the foundational areas of criminal justice, such as the court system, corrections, and law enforcement as well as the process and science of forensic investigation. Lab practicum experiences provide students with an opportunity to learn about forensics and crime scene investigation. The core modules are:
- Introduction to Criminalistics
- Advanced Crime Scene Forensics
- Forensic Photography & Crime Scene Documentation
- Medico-Legal Death Investigations
- Introduction to Ridgeology
- Interview and Interrogation
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Criminal Justice Ethics
- Criminal Procedure
- Criminal Law
- Abnormal Psychology
- Forensic Psychology
Colorado Technical University also offers its Virtual Campus, making it the university of choice for career-motivated students whose lifestyles and responsibilities make it impractical to enroll on a traditional college campus. Students can earn a professionally focused degree in a supportive online community that offers you an incredible amount of freedom, flexibility, convenience and one-to-one support, all courtesy of their committed, experienced faculty and staff. The CTU Online campus offers Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs that can be completed in as little as 17 months*.
In 2009 the Computerworld Honors program named CTU’s virtual campus the “Best of the Best” in the Academia and Education category. Students enroll in one of its more than 100 online undergraduate and graduate programs are able to learn from professors who have real world experience. They are also able to collaborate with their peers throughout the nation.
|University||Columbia College, Forensic Science B.S.|
|Type||Full time, Part time|
|Tuition and fees||$21,200 per year|
The major in Forensic Science is designed to provide training for students seeking to work in forensic science laboratories or who are planning to pursue careers in the field of forensic science. The major draws from the biological sciences, physics and chemistry as well as from the fields of criminal justice and the law. The degree is generated from a cross-disciplinary perspective, blending faculty expertise from both the criminal justice and science program areas. A principal focus of the program is to prepare students for entry-level positions and for advancement in various occupations and professions in the criminal justice and science areas. The faculty encourages wide and varied preparation in both the liberal arts and sciences to provide students with an appreciation of the scientific and social environment of crime and criminal justice. As students prepare for a career in forensic sciences, they should be reasonably informed on which area to focus. For example, if one wishes to work in a crime laboratory, most positions are of the ‘criminalist’ category, but various areas will require specific coursework. The core modules are:
- Physical Evidence
- Criminalist I – DNA
- Trace Evidence
- Latent Prints
- Questioned Documents
- Organic Chemistry I and II
- Senior Seminar in Forensic Science
- Criminal Investigation
- Introduction to Forensic Science
Originally founded as Christian Female College, the college was the first women’s college west of the Mississippi River to be chartered by a state legislature. The college changed its name to Columbia College in 1970 when it transitioned from a two-year women’s college to a four-year coeducational college. Though Columbia College has retained a covenant with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) since its inception, the college is a nonsectarian school welcoming students of all religious denominations.
Through its network of campuses in 36 nationwide locations, the Day Campus and Evening Campus in Columbia, Mo., and the Online Campus, the college serves more than 29,000 students annually.
|University||University of Central Missouri, Forensic Chemistry B.S.|
|Type||Full time, Part time|
|Tuition and fees||$26,300 per year|
The chemistry degree programs at UCM provide a balanced curriculum of classroom instruction and practical laboratory experience. As a student with a major in chemistry, you will receive extensive state of the art, hands-on experience with instrumentation, such as UV-Visible, FTIR, and FTNMR spectroscopy; chromatography (GC/MS/MS/HPLC); calorimetry; fluorometry; electrochemical analysis and others. The student to faculty ratio at UCM is 17 to 1, which allows professors to get to know students and provide personalized attention. Active research, workshop and seminar participation keep chemistry faculty current in the ever-advancing field of science. In addition to a wide range of academic and professional experience, all faculty members in UCM’s chemistry programs have earned doctorates in their fields of expertise. The core modules are:
- Causes of Crime
- Comparative International Systems
- Criminal Evidence
- Forensic Science
- Molecular Biology
- Ballistics Expert
- Drug Analyst
- Forensic Psychologist
- Homicide Investigator
- Medical Examiner
The graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Chemistry will use the knowledge and skills obtained in the program to: collect, analyze and apply information to solve problems (managing information & higher-order thinking); understand how to safely utilize laboratory instruments and employ the appropriate laboratory techniques to investigate chemical systems (technology); understand chemical concepts and use evidence to draw conclusions (higher-order thinking); use the language and concepts of chemistry to communicate effectively in oral and written form (communicating); function in independent and collaborative settings to solve problems (interacting); ethically and with integrity, apply chemical knowledge, materials, and skills that impact society (valuing); be prepared for post-baccalaureate education and employment in the public and private sectors.
Master’s Degree Programs in Missouri
There are currently no master’s programs offered in Missouri.