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Forensic Science Programs in Pennsylvania

The world of criminal justice can be mentally draining and challenging for the people who work in it; so often, this field requires professionals to look at the worst of humanity and treat them with kindness and patience. However, that is why criminal justice professionals are so important. They take on jobs that the majority of the population couldn’t do, and they do it to keep society safe.

This is made much easier with the growing number of tools available to criminal justice experts. The development of forensic science was one of the most important advances in the history of this industry.

Interest in starting a forensic science PA career?

Start comparing your educational options now by requesting information on forensic science degrees from Pennsylvania schools.

What Can I Do with a Forensic Science Degree in Pennsylvania?

As a forensic science professional, you may be part of numerous important cases throughout your career. Your job is to look at the evidence objectively and use it to determine what happened during a crime and who was responsible for it.

In a Pennsylvania case that gained massive media attention, a mother was convicted of drowning her two young sons in the bathtub after trying to run them over (People, 2017). With forensic evidence, investigators were able to determine cause of death, use DNA to hold the mother responsible, and create a solid body of evidence for the legal case.

Forensic Science Degrees in Pennsylvania

The variety of forensic science programs in Pennsylvania give you many opportunities to advance your education in this area and get the skills that local employers are looking for. Depending on how much education you’ve previously completed, different degree options may be best for you. Those who want to start working as quickly as possible often choose an associate degree, while those who want the most in-depth education possible at the undergraduate level may opt for a bachelor’s degree. Students who have already earned bachelor’s degrees may advance their education with master’s degrees in Pennsylvania.

At the associate level, you may choose to specialize in computer forensics. The specialty of computer forensics uses digital evidence to view communications, pinpoint the locations of suspects and victims, and create a paper trail of money spent and GPS pings.

Associate-Level Computer Forensics Classes

  • Evidence and Procedures
  • Computer Forensics
  • Principles of Information Security
  • Project in Computer Forensics

A bachelor’s degree is a popular choice for aspiring forensic science professionals. Part of learning how to become a forensics scientist is getting the hands-on experience needed to use forensic science technology accurately and safely.

This is where many bachelor’s programs excel; they include multiple laboratory courses in which you work with crime lab equipment, conduct experiments, and process evidence. These skills lay the groundwork for a career in forensics and may even give you the opportunity to go through an internship at a local criminal justice agency.

Bachelor’s programs require no fewer than 120 credits, with some schools requiring up to 140 credits. Most programs are designed to be completed in four years.

Bachelor’s Degree Coursework

  • Essential Practices of Forensic Science
  • Scientific Approach to CSI
  • Trace and Impression Evidence
  • Courtroom Testimony

Graduate degrees are the next step up from undergraduate education. For that reason, they require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. You may want to study a criminal justice-related field at the undergraduate level to prepare for the challenging concepts taught in graduate programs, but you may also be able to enroll in a graduate forensic science program with a bachelor’s degree in another field.

There are significant differences in program duration across graduate programs, but on average, you are expected to earn between 30 and 40 credits in approximately two years.

Graduate Courses in Forensic Science

  • Courtroom Proceedings and Testimony
  • Non-Biology Criminalistics
  • Biology Criminalistics
  • Drug Chemistry and Toxicology

Education is a major part of success in the vast majority of career paths. In forensic science, a degree may give you the experience and theoretical knowledge needed to work independently in crime labs.

Check out our list of forensic science degrees in Pennsylvania and contact local schools to learn more.

Working as a Forensic Scientist in Pennsylvania

All the work you put in as an undergraduate or graduate student is for the benefit of your career, which is why it’s so important to go the extra mile and give yourself as many opportunities for growth as possible. Your school may not require an internship or practicum course; do one anyway.

If you complete an internship, you make contacts in the industry that may serve you well after graduation. In addition, you can see the actual equipment being used by professionals in this industry and get experience with it. The feedback you get from supervisors may shorten your learning curve and make you a more appealing job candidate.

You may want to start out as a forensic science technician, particularly if you have lots of experience in the lab. On average, Pennsylvania forensic science technicians earn $48,690 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). Job openings may see a 21% boost between 2014 and 2024 (O*Net, 2017). In this role, you may work as part of a larger team to process cases and ensure that evidence is processed quickly.

Other graduates choose to go into law enforcement as criminal investigators. This may be optimal for you if you want to have a more hands-on role in the solving of crimes. Pennsylvania criminal investigators earn an average of $81,180 per year (BLS, 2017). Between 2014 and 2024, O*Net expects job openings to increase by an average of 90 positions per year (2017).

Those who go on to become coroners may be directly employed by the state, the county, or a large city. Coroners must be able to focus on one task for an extended period of time without losing concentration. Their average salary in Pennsylvania is $66,000 per year (BLS, 2017). Job openings may increase 4% by the year 2024 (O*Net, 2017).

Now that you know more about becoming a forensic scientist, start preparing for a new career today.

Start by getting in contact with forensic science programs in Pennsylvania.