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Forensic Science Programs in South Dakota

Every state has its own criminal justice concerns, and South Dakota tends to have more complex challenges than many other states. Though it is home to a handful of urban areas and suburban communities, South Dakota is largely populated by remote and rural communities that have little funding for law enforcement departments. For that reason, many communities pool resources with other nearby communities to ensure that residents are kept safe. Technology can also reduce the criminal justice budget and do more to keep residents safe. For example, the field of forensic science allows investigators to solve crimes more quickly and with less uncertainty than other crime solving methods.

This is a great time to learn how to become a forensics scientist.

Discover what your options are for earning a forensics degree by contacting South Dakota schools today.

What Can I Do with a Forensic Science Degree in South Dakota?

Between 2016 and 2017, South Dakota experienced a significant uptick in violent crime (News Center 1, 2017). This included an increase in assault, murder, sexual assault, and battery. The problem became so severe that South Dakota officials requested federal intervention and assistance.

When violent crime threatens the safety and lives of residents, it’s important that forensic scientists process evidence swiftly and give investigators the tools they need to bring perpetrators to justice.

Forensic Science Degrees in South Dakota

At four-year public and private institutions in South Dakota, you may be able to earn your bachelor’s degree in forensic science. A bachelor’s degree is an excellent option for many students, since it provides them the option of beginning their career after graduation or going on to graduate-level forensic science study.

In a bachelor’s program, you must earn at least 120 credits to graduate. Up to half of your credits may come from general education courses in mathematics, history, social sciences, English, and physical sciences. The remainder of your credits are earned in forensic science classes.

Among your forensic science courses, you may find many laboratory courses. Lab-based classes give you the chance to practice the techniques you’ve learned in class and perfect them. This experience is absolutely essential when it comes time to start looking for jobs, and you may choose to use your hands-on experience to complete an internship at a local crime lab.

Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Investigation

  • Crime Scene and Forensic Investigation: Learn about the foundations of forensic investigation. You may study the overall goals of this field, basic techniques for processing evidence, rules for handling and collecting evidence, and the uses of evidence in criminal investigations.

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice: To do your part as a forensic scientist, you must understand how the field of criminal justice works. This introductory criminal justice course looks at the industry as a whole, outlining different specialties, job paths, and ethical standards.

  • Criminal Investigation: Study the criminal investigation procedure from start to finish. You may find out how investigators take in crime reports, respond to them, gather evidence, analyze it, and use it to follow up on leads. Even if you don’t go into criminal investigation as a career, it’s important to know how your forensic science work fits into the overall investigative process.

  • Forensic Chemistry: The tenets of chemistry play a major role in how crimes are analyzed and solved. In this class, you should learn about how the foundations of chemistry play into forensic science and which chemistry principles you may use to analyze and interpret evidence.

After completing your core and elective courses, consider completing an internship. An internship is not required in all forensic science degrees, but you may find that it is generally recommended. No matter how much time you spend in the lab, nothing can take the place of working in a real crime lab alongside experienced forensic scientists. You may be recommended for an internship if you have high grades or you may need to meet with an advisor to learn more about your internship options.

Education may be your key to a new and rewarding career in criminal justice.

Start checking out your options with our list of South Dakota forensic science schools.

Working as a Forensic Scientist in South Dakota

While you may not start working as a forensic scientist until you graduate with a bachelor’s degree, you should start preparing for the job search well in advance of graduation. Doing so shows you where there are forensic science job openings, what employers look for in applicants, and what skills you should work on to make your application as strong as possible. If you did an internship during your degree, this is the time to work your connections and find out if there are open positions that have not yet been advertised.

If you feel at home in a crime lab, you may enjoy working as a forensic science technician. In South Dakota, forensic science technicians claim an average salary of $49,510 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). This is in line with national averages. This is one of the fastest growing careers in criminal justice; by the year 2024, O*Net anticipates a 27% increase in job openings (2017).

Those who have experience in law enforcement or want to solve crimes may opt to become criminal investigators. In South Dakota, criminal investigators claim an average annual income of $69,380 (BLS, 2017). This field has seen steady growth in recent years. O*Net predicts a 5% increase in job openings between 2014 and 2024 (2017).

If you thrive in an independent work environment and you are detail-oriented, you could be the perfect fit for a coroner position. Coroners are often the first line of evidence collection in fatal cries, uncovering the cause of death and finding preliminary biological and forensic evidence. Throughout South Dakota, coroners claim an average income of $53,310 per year (BLS, 2017). A 7% boost in job openings may be seen between 2014 and 2024 (O*Net, 2017).

Don’t wait any longer to find out which forensic science program is the right choice for you. Contact schools today with our list of best forensic science colleges in South Dakota.

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