When it comes to prosecuting suspected criminals, the proof often is in the science. Scientific evidence has become a major factor in the successful conviction of many criminals, and judges and jurors have come to expect a solid scientific basis when considering a suspected criminal’s guilt or innocence.

Forensic evidence is collected at crime scenes, analyzed in laboratories and prepared for court. It can be used to convict or clear a suspect of the crime in which they are accused of committing. The evidence is collected and analyzed by forensic scientists who are specially trained in the best methods to gather evidence so that it will not be contaminated or otherwise compromised.  

Forensic scientists, also referred to as forensic science technicians, specialize in crime-scene collection and laboratory analysis. At a crime scene, they will make an initial walkthrough and assess the best methods for collecting and preserving evidence. They may photograph or make sketches of the crime scene and make notes of their findings and observations of the scene.They will use specialized tools for collecting physical evidence that may include weapons, bodily fluids and fingerprints.

Once in the laboratory, forensic scientists are charged with identifying and classifying all evidence collected and then using that evidence to find possible links between suspects and the crime committed. Part of the process includes reconstructing the crime scene and using their scientific findings to determine whether the evidence is supportive of charges against a particular suspect.

Required Education

As one might imagine, becoming a forensic science technician requires many skills: extensive knowledge in math and science, deduction skills, analytical skills, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills,excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to maintain composure at even the most gruesome of crime scenes.

Many, but not all, crime scene investigators are sworn police officers who have completed academy training and other educational requirements to become a police officer. These investigators are able to work at uniformed crime scenes through a number of law enforcement agencies.Non-uniform crime scene investigators are required to have a Bachelor Degree inForensic Science or a Bachelor Degree in Natural Science.

Lab technicians working in crime laboratories responsible for processing evidence also are required to possess a minimum of a BachelorDegree in either a forensic or natural science (biology or chemistry). Quality four-year programs in forensic science should include coursework in math,chemistry and biology, according to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences(AAFS).

Whether selecting an online or traditional program in forensic sciences, it is important to choose a program which has received accreditation from a reputable agency.

The AAFS lists the following traditional and online degree programs as among those possessing appropriate accreditation within the UnitedStates: the University of Alabama at Birmingham; Boston University School ofMedicine; the University of California at Davis; Duquesne University; FloridaUniversity; and George Washington University. A complete listing of accredited programs within the U.S. is available on the AAFS website.

The AAFS also lists accredited programs outside of theUnited States. They include, but are not limited to: Anglia Ruskin University;the British Columbia Institute of Technology; Canberra Institute of Technology;the Central Police University; the University of Crakow; and the DoctorHarisingh Gour University. 

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