Forensic Science Programs in West Virginia
If you’re one of the many people who wants to make a difference with their career choice, you have likely considered the possibilities in the field of criminal justice. Criminal justice is one of the most important industries in the United States, particularly in rural areas like West Virginia. In the remote communities of West Virginia, residents may share law enforcement resources with other communities and rely on investigators to rapidly solve cases. Forensic science has significantly improved outcomes in terms of amount of cases solved, average duration of a case, and strength of legal cases.
If you’ve been waiting for the chance to learn how to become a forensics scientist, this is the time to get started.
Reach out to programs on our list of best forensic science colleges in West Virginia.
What Can I Do with a Forensic Science Degree in West Virginia?
With crime rates rising in West Virginia, the demand for forensic science professionals continues to grow. In Charleston, crime rates rose 17% across eight categories in 2016 (WV Gazette Mail, 2017). Higher crime rates can put a significant burden on the criminal justice system, and forensic science professionals are the only ones who can solve it. With swift processing of evidence and careful preservation of samples, forensic scientists offer plenty of support to investigative professionals.
Forensic Science Degrees in West Virginia
The education you get at this stage of your career can significantly influence the job options you have down the line, so don’t be afraid to take your time and evaluate all of your schooling options. You want to attend a school that is in line with your current level of education, expands your worldview and your knowledge of forensic science, and gives you many opportunities to develop your practical skills in the laboratory.
Associate programs are commonly chosen by those who are new to this industry or who are returning to postsecondary education after a long break. In addition to general forensic science degrees, you may choose to specialize in computer forensics. This degree looks at the digital footprints left behind by bank transactions, computer usage, and usage of digital devices, rather than physical evidence.
Associate-Level Computer Forensics Courses
- Intrusion Detection
- Internet Security
- Computer Forensics
- Mobile Device Forensics
Another undergraduate education option is a bachelor’s degree. While an associate degree requires two years of full-time study and 60 credits, a bachelor’s degree involves four years of education and 120 credits. Each school sets its own graduation requirements, so some schools require close to 130 or 140 credits. Your training should explore laboratory techniques and give you many hours of lab experience. Only by working with forensic science equipment can you improve your scientific knowledge and skills.
Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Chemistry
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Professional Forensic Communication
- Law and Evidence
- Court Testimony
After you’ve finished your bachelor’s degree, you may be interested in taking your education to the next level with a master’s degree. A master’s degree in forensic science involves earning 30 credits at the graduate level and completing a final project or thesis. For the average full-time student, this works out to two years of education beyond the bachelor’s degree level.
Graduate Courses in Forensic Science
- Foundations of Criminalistics
- Forensic Laboratory Management
- Firearms Examination
- Trace Evidence Examination
You may want to build on your education with a certificate. There are two main types of certificate programs you may encounter. The first is the technical certificate, which is open to students of all levels that have their high school diploma.
A graduate certificate, on the other hand, requires a bachelor’s degree. In both cases, you may be able to secure your certificate with only one year of study. You may start with a certificate program or you may choose to enroll in one after earning your initial degree; this is helpful if you want to become certified in a specialized area of forensic science, such as forensic accounting.
Certificate in Forensic Accounting
- Fraud Investigation
- Fraud Data Analysis
- Fraud Criminology
- Advanced Fraud Investigation
Discover which forensics degree is a good fit for your career goals and education.
Contact West Virginia forensic science schools to learn more now.
Working as a Forensic Scientist in West Virginia
You work hard to complete your forensic science education, so you undoubtedly want it to improve your career options after graduation. There are several ways you can give yourself a leg up on the competition when you’re ready for your first forensic science job.
First, get as much practical experience as you can. This doesn’t just mean lab hours; it also means putting in time for an internship or practicum. You should also devote time to networking and getting established in the criminal justice community. You may do so by joining local organizations as a student.
You may look into becoming a forensic science technician if you want to build your career in the laboratory. In the crime lab, you may work with investigators in different departments to deliver the evidence analysis they need. By the year 2024, job openings for criminal investigators may increase 3% (O*Net, 2017).
Your forensic education can also benefit you if you choose to become a criminal investigator. This job may require more community involvement, interaction with other criminal justice agencies, and irregular hours. West Virginia criminal investigators earn an average of $59,760 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). Demand for investigators may increase 3% by the year 2024 (O*Net, 2017).
Consider becoming a coroner if you prefer to work alone and devote your attention to one task at a time. West Virginia coroners currently earn an average annual salary of $54,170 (BLS, 2017). This field is relatively steady, with an anticipated 2% boost in job openings between 2014 and 2024 (O*Net, 2017). This career path is slightly different from other forensic science careers; although it is part of the criminal justice industry, it also requires extensive collaboration with health and human services departments.
With West Virginia’s variety of forensic science degrees, you may get a jumpstart on your career.
Using our list of forensic science programs, get in touch with schools that interest you.
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