How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Indiana?

You may have an idea about the job of a forensic scientist through television series such as “Dexter” or “Bones”. However, not surprisingly so, these entertainment shows do not paint a very detailed and accurate picture of how forensic science works. The job of a forensic scientist involves a lot of detailed and precise work, no matter where you are in the US. The case is no different in Indiana.

According to the Indiana State Police, the following are the job duties and responsibilities of a Forensic Scientist:

  • DNA analysis.
  • Preparation of laboratory case notes and written reports.
  • Participate in training and continuing education programs.
  • Assist in calibration and maintenance of laboratory instruments.
  • Participate in a proficiency testing program.
  • Examination and determination of physical, microscopic, and compositional characteristics of physical evidence such as fibers, paint, glass, and ignitable liquids.
  • Drug identification.
  • Hand writing comparisons and questioned document examinations.
  • Examination of firearms and firearms related evidence.
  • Serological tests to identify and analyze body fluids, tissues and various types of related matter.
  • Latent fingerprint development and comparisons.
  • Communicate analytical procedures, methodology, and conclusions to various representatives of the criminal justice system including court testimony as an expert witness.

With such technical duties, it comes as no surprise that becoming a forensic scientist is a detailed and long process. If you want to learn about how to become a forensic scientist in Indiana, the following information would be of great use.

How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Indiana
How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Indiana

Educational Requirements to Become a Forensic Scientist in Indiana

The educational requirements vary according to the type of forensic science field you opt to work in. There are three basic categories for forensic scientists in Indiana:

DNA Analysis
  • At least a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, biology or chemistry.
  • Candidate should have completed two of these three courses in college: Biochemistry, Genetics or Molecular Biology. The remaining course needs to be completed before the beginning of any official DNA casework.
  • Candidate should have completed a statistics course in college.
Drug Analysis and Microanalysis
  • A bachelor’s degree in forensic science or a natural science, that includes at least one semester of physics and one-year (or equivalent) of organic chemistry, general chemistry and analytical chemistry. The study should be a mix of lab classes and lectures.
Firearms Examination, Latent Prints Comparisons and Questioned Documents Analysis
  • A bachelor’s degree that includes science courses

Steps to Become a Forensic Scientist in Indiana

Before the details, aspiring forensic scientists must know that the following steps are meant to serve as general guidelines. Actual procedures might vary according to the employer and level of job you are applying for. So make sure you check the details thoroughly before beginning the application process.

Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree in forensic science or any natural science would be a good place to start for aspiring forensic scientists. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement in this field for entry level jobs.

Step 2: Consider getting a Graduate Degree

Even though getting a graduate degree is not a requirement for most entry level jobs in this field, it serves as a stepping stone for professionals who want to advance on to senior positions. With a master’s degree, you may be allowed to pursue specialized coursework in areas such as DNA Analysis, stable isotope techniques or fire and arson investigation.

Step 3: Get a Job and Begin On-the-Job Training

You may find employment in the government sector or with local labs and investigators. County offices, state and federal level jobs would be available, though you will have to spend some time looking for one that matches your specialization and skill set.

Most forensic science jobs will make the applicants go through an extensive on-the-job training program, which may last a few months or even a whole year. This training is to ensure that you learn the basics of forensic science in a practical environment, with hands-on training and instruction. Once you have cleared this training program, you would be allowed to work independently on cases.

Step 4: Consider earning Credentials

Some states or jurisdictions might require forensic scientists to be certified before they begin practicing. Even though these certifications are not a compulsory element for entry into this field, they can certainly open a lot of doors to better job opportunities in the future. You may explore certifications in areas such as drug analysis, molecular biology, fire and debris analysis, hair and fibers and polymers and paints.

How much does a forensic scientist make in Indiana?

According to 2017 data from O*NET OnLine, Forensic Science Technicians made a median annual salary of $59,390. This is slightly higher than the national median of $57,850. The number of jobs in this sector is expected to grow at the rate of 16% from 2016 to 2026. However, keep in mind that the actual number of jobs being added in the field of Forensic Science in Indiana up till 2026 is 40. This is due to the highly specialized nature of the field. So if you want to increase your chances of being among these 40, you might want to consider getting higher education degrees. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, those with a master’s degree in forensic science had a good chance of beating the competition.