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Forensic Science Certification

A certificate in forensic science is for those looking for a career in federal, state or local forensic science laboratories, coroner offices and medical examiners. Forensic scientists apply scientific principles and methods to legal questions, to serve justice. It is pertinent to mention here, however, that a certificate on its own will not qualify you as a forensic scientist.

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Is the certificate for you?

This certificate is ideal for undergraduates majoring in natural sciences, biology or chemistry, wishing to become forensic scientists after graduation. In addition to aspiring forensic scientists, those already in the field but interested in further honing their skills, may also enroll in the certificate. Furthermore, the following may find enrolling in the certificate to be of benefit:

  • Law enforcement personnel
  • Paralegals
  • Attorneys
  • Insurance and medical fraud investigators
  • Private and fraud investigators

What do forensic scientists do?

As mentioned earlier, some forensic scientists work in forensic labs but what is it that they do there? They collect and analyze physical evidence in the lab or at the crime scene and help police and other law enforcement agencies investigate crimes.

A forensic science certificate can help you increase your skills and knowledge in the field.
Forensic Science Certification

Types of forensic science

The American Academy of Forensic Sciences, divides forensic science into many different sub-fields like:

  • Criminalistics
  • Toxicology
  • Questioned Documents
  • Psychiatry & Behavioral Science
  • Physical Anthropology
  • Pathology/Biology
  • Odontology
  • Jurisprudence
  • General Forensic Science
  • Engineering Sciences
  • Digital & Multimedia Sciences

Is that all you need to become a forensic scientist?

As mentioned earlier, a certificate in forensic science is not enough to become a forensic scientist; you would need a bachelor's degree, at least. This claim is backed both by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). What the certificate in forensic science might do is help get you a beginning-level job in a forensic lab, or help you in enrolling in a bachelor's degree program. It may further enhance your forensic scientist skills.

Licenses and Certifications

Forensic scientists do not need to be certified or licensed. However, just like in other occupations, those who are certified and/or licensed, have better chances of getting employed in their preferred work settings.

What to expect in the classroom

A certificate in forensic science will have some core courses and electives. Some of the core courses may cover topics including:

  • Current Issue in the Forensic Sciences
  • Survey of the Forensic Sciences
  • General Chemistry I
  • General Chemistry II
  • Principles of Cell Biology
  • Principles of Genetics
  • Forensic Sciences Internship

Furthermore, the students may have to choose one course from:

  • Legal Systems in American Society
  • Crime and Justice in America

And one from the following:

  • Statistics
  • Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences
  • Statistics and Data Analysis

Students may choose from the following electives according to their interests:

  • Forensic Chemical Microscopy
  • Forensic Firearm and Toolmark Examination
  • Forensic Fingerprint Examination
  • Forensic Document Examination
  • Forensic Biology
  • Crime Scene Investigation and Reconstruction
  • Instrumental Methods
  • Applied Biotechnology
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • LAB: Applied Biotechnology
  • LAB: Forensic Anthropology

Learning Objectives

After successfully completing the certificate, a student may feel confident in applying:

  • Crime analysis techniques
  • Conducting criminal investigation
  • General principles of forensic science
  • Forensic science investigative techniques

Admission Requirements

While admission requirements for the certificate may vary from one school to another, the following may serve as general guidelines:

  • Completed application form
  • A minimum cumulative GPA (e.g. 2.5)
  • Approval of certificate program director

Certificate Completion Requirements

  • Successful completion of an internship at an operational laboratory
  • Minimum grades of C or better

A Historical Anecdote

Wondering what is the use of learning forensic science and its importance in any criminal justice system, then read this historical account from 13th century China.

A farmer was murdered with a sickle but there were no witnesses. A wise death investigator ordered the peasants to bring their sickles to the town square and place them on the ground under the hot sun. After some time, flies started to gather on one of the sickles, attracted by the smell of blood. The murderer was found.

While not many murders take place with sickles anymore, the purpose of forensic science remains the same as it was in 13th century China, to use scientific ways and means to serve justice.

Career Prospects

A forensic scientist’s yearly income depends upon the following factors:  

  • Academic background
  • Work experience
  • Nature of employment/employer
  • Number of hours worked

There is no harm in admitting that forensic scientists do not make a killing, however, they do earn a respectable income. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that forensic scientists earned a yearly median income of $52,840 in 2012.

How long does it take to get a Forensic Science Certification?

To get a forensic science certificate, you will first need to meet the eligibility criteria set forth by the certifying body. Even though the exact criteria might vary from organization to organization, you will typically be required to earn a 4-year long bachelor’s degree, followed by a few years of experience in your relevant field. So, all in all, it can take you 6-10 years to get a forensic science certificate. 

What are the requirements to get a Forensic Science Certification?

The first major requirement to be eligible for a certificate in forensic science is a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Followed by this, you will need to meet the experience requirements set forth by the organization you are applying through. For instance, The American College of Forensic Examiners requires applicants to have at least two years of experience before giving the test for certification as a criminal investigator. You will also be required to submit some documentation, required by the certifying organization, such as a resume, copies of degrees, professional licenses etc.

How much can I make after I get a Forensic Science Certification?

Forensic Science Technicians made an annual median income of $58,230 in 2018 as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salary figure is expected to be higher for those who hold a professional certificate and a few years of experience.

Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:What will you learn in a Certificate In Forensics program?

A:A certificate in forensics is designed for individuals who wish to boost their career in the area of forensics. The program teaches students how to perform general crime scene analysis, apply fundamental concepts of forensics and science, effectively work in groups in various cases, and develop various profiles (DNA profiles).

Q:Can you tell me about the courses offered in Forensics Certificate?

A:Coursework for forensic certificate can vary from one institute to another. However, there are some common courses offered in almost all forensic programs. Major courses offered in the forensic certificate program include law enforcement, forensic science, criminal justice administration, criminal justice, crime scene investigation, forensic psychology, and crime scene technician.

Q:What curriculum do forensics certificate programs follow?

A:During a forensics certificate program you will be exposed to a variety of subjects that will enhance your existing knowledge of forensic sciences. These subjects include, but are not limited to; forensic law, criminal procedure, introduction to forensic science, criminological theory, biology, chemistry, principles of chemistry lab, physics, mathematical analysis, genetics, cell biology pharmacology and inorganic chemistry.

Q:What are the benefits of a certificate in forensic science?

A:A certificate in forensic science will give you an in depth understanding of the working of a crime scene and evidence collection. Students will also have knowledge of courses like organic chemistry, drug uses and abuses etc. Students will also be able to find employment as a forensic science technician, their annual median pay in 2012 was $52,840 (U.S. BLS).

Q:Which are some of the subjects that will be covered during a forensic science certification?

A:A certification in forensic science offers an extensive course work which provides a thorough understanding of the forensic science field. Some examples of possible subjects are genetics, cell biology, chemistry, forensic sciences, forensic analysis, forensic biochemistry, criminal investigation, courtroom presentation of evidence, blood distribution and spatter, legal systems in American society, forensic toxicology, criminal procedure, physics, forensic psychology, trace evidence analysis

Q:How are online Forensics Courses covered? Can you give a little detail?

A:Online forensic courses are offered by many popular schools. These courses are designed to prepare students for job roles in the forensics department. The coursework is covered online with the help of videos, tutorials, online lectures, classroom conferencing, slideshows, and more. The mode and structure of the program will vary from school to school. Take a look at our page for more detail.

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