Forensic science is a fast-growing field in the law enforcement sector. With the advancement of technology, scientific principles are now being used to analyze crime scenes and determine the chain of events and elements that were involved in it. Popular TV serials such as CSI have also added to the fascination with forensic science, attracting a large number of individuals into the industry.In 2012, there were approximately 12,900 employed forensic science technicians according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Associate Degree in Forensic Science
An associate degree program in forensic science is an undergraduate program designed to prepare students for entry-level careers in this field. This program can be pursued right after high school. The program will cover a range of fundamental courses that highlight important aspects of this area. Students will develop skills and acquire a broad-based theoretical understanding of forensic science principles, analysis techniques, and law. Here are a few of the general courses that students will cover in this program:
General sociology (3-4 credits)
This course focuses upon the “science of the society.” Students will develop an understanding of sociological theories, social institutions, socialization, and deviance within the society.
Criminal Justice System (3-4 credits)
This course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of criminal laws, justice administration, and criminal trial procedures. Since forensic science is closely related to criminal activities and crime scenes, students must be familiar with the criminal justice processes.
Crime Scene Technology (3-4 credits)
This is an introductory course that focuses upon the technological aspects of the field. Students will learn how to use technological tools for gathering and examining physical evidence from crime scenes.
Functional Human Anatomy (3-4 credits)
Basic anatomy is important to cover in this program. This course will provide students with fundamental knowledge of basic human anatomy, allied health, and mortuary sciences.
English Composition (3-4 credits)
Students must have strong written communication skills. This course will help build writing skills that may be needed for a potential career. From essay writing to business writing, the course covers a range of important areas.
Completing the general courses embedded in the program curriculum is mandatory. However, students can also choose to specialize in a certain sub-field. A few areas that may be offered for specialization have been listed below:
This course will allow students to understand the effects chemical substances have on a human body. Students will learn how to determine the presence of drugs or chemicals in a victim’s body as well.
This course deals with the examination and presentation of dental evidence. Students will also learn about various dental science principles and their application in crime scenes.
In this course, students learn how to determine the cause of death of a person by examining the dead body.
Criminalistics covers a wide range of fields. Students explore areas such as fingerprint examination, trace evidence collection, blood spatter, photography, firearm and tool mark identification, and crime scene reconstruction.
Some institutes include practice-oriented courses in these programs. These courses help build necessary skills and provide practical experience to students. Some basic skills emphasized in the program are:
- Decision making skills
- Critical-thinking skills
- Math and science skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Communication skills
Objectives of the Program
An associate in forensic science will enable students to:
- Investigate crime scenes
- Document crime scenes
- Manage and preserve evidence
- Collect different kinds of evidence
- Analyze evidence from crime scenes
- Follow standard procedures and protocol
- Use various laboratory techniques for examining crime scene data
- Use scientific methods for crime scene analysis
Duration and Credit Hours Requirement
Similar to other degree programs, an associate degree in forensic science has credit hour requirements. According to surveys, the median credit hour requirement was 60 for associate level degrees. However, this can range anywhere from 60 to 120, depending upon the school a student enrolls in. Each course is assigned with a number of credit hours that can be earned with the successful completion of the coursework.
The duration of an associate degree is usually two years. But it is important to remember that this duration can vary slightly from school to school.
Admission Criteria for Associate Degree in Forensic Science
- Fill out an admission form of the selected institute
- Submit the official transcript of your high school diploma
- A minimum C grade in general science subjects
- A letter of recommendation
Other requirements will depend upon the school, as they vary from place to place. Some schools may require students to pass an admission test.
The degree will qualify students for entry-level careers in the field. You can possibly seek work as a forensic science technician in crime departments, crime laboratories, morgues, and even the coroner’s office. However, you may have to fulfill the basic requirements for becoming a forensic science technician or assistant in your state. These may include:
- Background check
- Clear a state exam
- Pass a drug test
Job Description of a Forensic Science Technician
Median annual wage in 2012 according to BLS: $52,840
Growth rate according to BLS (2012 - 2022): 6%
- Analyze crime scenes and collect evidence
- Photograph crime scenes
- Record all kinds of observations
- Collect fingerprints and footprints (if any)
- Preserve evidence and transport evidence safely to laboratories
- Apply physical, biological, or chemical techniques for evidence analysis
- Consult other authorities and experts
Frequently Asked Question(s)
Q:Can you tell me about forensic science associates degree?
A:Forensic science associates degrees are easily available at many community colleges. The degree is typically for two years and you can go for it after completing your high school. Some schools may require science background. The prerequisites of admission can vary from school to school. The associate's degree aims to give foundational study in forensic science.
Q:What is associates in forensic and what can I do with this?
A:An associate degree in forensics is an undergraduate program. It is designed to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the field. With this qualification, you can work at assistant and entry-level in crime units and labs. The program is being offered by a number of institutes and colleges throughout the nation. Browse further for more information.
Q:What kind of a job will I have if I acquire an associate in forensics degree?
A:By acquiring an associate's degree in forensics, you will be eligible to work as a forensic science technician, blood splatter analyst, computer forensics, crime lab analyst, crime lab technician, crime scene technician, evidence technician, fingerprint analyst, forensic accountant, forensic anthropologist, forensic examiner, forensic ballistic analyst, forensic nurse and latent print examiner.
Q:What are the admission criteria for an associates degree in forensic science?
A:Typically, for entrance into an associate's degree program in forensic science require a minimum high school diploma or an equivalent GED. Aside from these two requirements, some schools may require the base of some science courses taken in school, such as; chemistry, biology, physics and math. Most schools will need a filled application form along with a letter of recommendation from an instructor.
Q:After completing my associates in forensic science, what salary should I expect?
A:According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for forensic science technicians in 2012 was $52,840 annually. However this figure will vary based on the state you are employed in and your level of know-how. After your online associates forensic course, the salary will depend on several factors such as the rank of education achieved, prior skill, specialization on the job and other abilities.
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