Forensic Science Programs in Utah
What Can I Do with a Forensic Science Degree in Utah?
The importance of the criminal justice industry is unavoidable, even in states that tend to be extremely safe for both residents and visitors. Utah typically has lower crime rates than most other states, but criminal justice professionals are responsible for creating and maintaining the peace that residents enjoy. With specialized training available in dozens of career paths, the criminal justice industry relies on professionals with different skills to prevent, stop, and solve crimes.
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Though crime may strike rarely in Utah, forensic science remains one of the most important specialties in this state. Investigators, victims, and families rely on forensic scientists to solve crimes quickly and bring closure to difficult situations. The work done by forensic scientists is often highly prioritized during periods of criminal justice reform. In a recent push to test all remaining rape kits in the state of Utah, the state’s crime labs have seen significant backups because of a lack of professionals who can effectively and quickly test the items in kits (Salt Lake Tribune, 2017).
Forensic Science Degrees in Utah
In the field of forensic science, there are many different degree options for those who want to develop the scientific skills and knowledge needed to work in Utah crime labs. In Utah, you may be able to earn a Bachelor’s degree in forensic science. At many schools, the field of forensic science is connected to the larger industry of criminal justice.
As you work your way through your 120 required credits, you may take an assortment of courses in criminal justice topics, forensic science topics, and general education subjects. You may earn between 50 and 60 credits in general education courses, which often cover subjects like mathematics, social studies, and English. The remaining 60 to 70 credits should be directly relevant to the field of forensic science.
Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science
- Criminalistics: This course looks at the evidence left behind after the commission of a crime. You may learn about the different procedures used to test evidence, the types of evidence you look for if you’re at a crime scene, and the techniques used to process evidence appropriately.
- Laws of Evidence: Evidence must be handled in very specific ways to be legally admissible in court. In this class, learn about the laws surrounding the collection, analysis, storage, and legal use of evidence.
- Footwear Impression Evidence: A person’s footwear reveals a lot about them, particularly if they are involved in the commission of a crime. This course shows you how to check crime scenes for footprints, gather impressions, and test those impressions to match them to specific footwear and a specific size. This evidence can be used to tie perpetrators to the crime scene and show where they went.
- Forensic Trace Analysis: In some crimes, there is minimal evidence available. Students who take this class learn how to make the most of these situations and test trace amounts of evidence left at the scene of a crime. You may learn about different techniques for testing the same piece of evidence multiple times and ensuring that it is preserved.
- Tire Imprint Evidence: With so many cars on the road, there are hundreds of tire patterns. However, it is very easy for forensic professionals to run tire tracks and match them to specific vehicles and tire models. Learn how to do this in this course.
- Fingerprint Examination: Whether you collect fingerprints from items, from victims, or from the scene of a crime, it is important to know how to process them accurately. After taking this class, you should be able to process both latent and direct fingerprints.
You may find that hands-on experience is incredibly important in this area of study. You should be able to work confidently and effectively in a laboratory by the time you graduate. For this reason, most forensic science programs require that students spend extensive periods of time in a mock crime lab. You may even get to work in a real crime lab if you secure an internship.
This is your chance to learn more about forensic science degrees in Utah.
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Working as a Forensic Scientist in Utah
After you complete your forensic science major, you may be able to explore many different careers in forensic science. Whether you want to work in law enforcement, research, or the laboratory, it’s important to get the right type of experience beforehand. Try to complete an internship at a relevant criminal justice agency to start building up your professional experience and your industry network.
You may choose to get started as a forensic science technician, since your degree should give you plenty of practice in a crime laboratory. Forensic science techs process evidence for all sorts of crimes, making them indispensable to crime investigation teams in their communities. In Utah, the average salary for a forensic science technician is $51,030 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). Between 2014 and 2024, job openings for forensic science technicians may swell 36% throughout Utah (O*Net, 2017).
Criminal investigators should also be highly educated in the field of forensic science. They may come into direct contact with evidence and collect it for analysis, so they must be able to maintain the integrity of evidence. This is an interesting career choice for those who are drawn to law enforcement. The average annual salary for a Utah criminal investigator is $73,030 (BLS, 2017). A 10% boost in job openings may be seen between 2014 and 2024 (O*Net, 2017).
Coroners often work closely with forensic science technicians and investigators in the course of their work. Though they may process cadavers on their own, the evidence they gather is used by many others in the criminal justice industry. Their average income is $63,480 per year in Utah (BLS, 2017). Demand for coroners may increase 24% between 2014 and 2024 (O*Net, 2017).
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