How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Louisiana?

Louisiana had the nation’s highest murder rate for the 29th straight year, as of 2017, with New Orleans having the 4th highest murder rate in the country. With a security situation as serious as this, the role of forensic scientists becomes even more important. They fight crime behind the scenes, helping other law enforcement personnel connect the dots to help with the identification of perpetrators.

Louisiana Forensic Scientist Requirements

To become a forensic scientist in Louisiana, there are certain educational requirements you need to fulfill. You will need to get a relevant bachelor’s degree, followed by a master’s degree. You might also need to get a doctorate if you intend on practicing psychology in Louisiana for the position of a forensic psychologist.
The following steps list down the exact requirements in more detail.
Note: Please note that the precise requirements and credentials needed to become a forensic scientist will vary as per the job you are applying for. Different employers and jobs might need different educational and training requirements. Please conduct proper research about the requirements needed for the forensic scientist job you are applying for.

Steps to Become a Forensic Scientist in Louisiana

Step 1: Completion of Educational Requirements

The most basic education you will require to get a job in this field is a bachelor’s degree. The job of a forensic scientist is very technical in nature and requires a lot of practice before you can head out on the field. Therefore it is important that you start taking up relevant courses from the beginning of your 4-year bachelor’s degree. Relevant courses could be in forensic anthropology, biology, chemistry, criminal psychology or mechanical physics.
If your selected college does not offer a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, you can always opt to major in chemistry, physics or biology to create a solid foundation. This will give you a clear vision of the direction you want to take in the field of forensics. For instance, you can work with latent prints or ballistics, or you can opt for forensic psychology as your future career path. Whatever you choose, you are advised to start taking elective courses according to it to help create a strong foundation.

Step 2: Consider Getting a Master’s Degree or a PHD.

Even though this is not a mandatory aspect of the process, it is still highly recommended. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Many of those who seek to become forensic science technicians will have an undergraduate degree in the natural sciences and a master’s degree in forensic science.”
Having a master’s degree in forensic science can open up a variety of new job options for you, along with helping you expand your skill set. You may also go for a doctorate program in the field. However, bear in mind that forensic science degrees are not available at this level as a standalone major. You will have to go for a broader field, such as psychology with a focus on forensic science.

Step 3: Obtain a Job

You may start looking for employment at the federal or state level – basically wherever there are crime labs. An ideal way to get in would be to start working as a police officer or a deputy sheriff. This is not a compulsion but it can certainly help you with your future career choices. Potential jobs for forensic science majors can include:

  • Forensic Anthropologist
  • Latent Fingerprint Examiner
  • Crime Scene Investigator
  • DNA Technician
  • Forensic Lab Technician
  • Investigative Specialist
  • Mental Health Program Director
  • Crime Lab Analyst
  • Cyber Security Specialist
  • Corrections Captain
  • Social Worker
Step 4: Begin On-the-Job Training

For most jobs in this field, on-the-job training will be required. The purpose of this training is to give new recruits a basic idea of how the particular organization works and what will be required of them. An overview of how the cases are dealt with, methods of collecting evidence, recording and reporting will be covered. This training can last a few weeks, depending on your employer and the nature of your job.

How long does it take to become a Forensic Scientist in Louisiana?

The length of time required to become a forensic scientist in Louisiana is dependent on your chosen educational path and the training requirements of your employer. For instance, if you go for an associate degree, you can enter the field in 2 years. With a bachelor’s degree, it will take 4 years. In case you choose to go for a master’s degree, that would be an additional 2 years.

How much does a Forensic Scientist make in Louisiana?

As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2017, the Forensic Science Technicians annual mean wage in Louisiana was $49,410. The state had 220 personnel employed in this capacity. If you opt for a different career path, the salary bracket would vary. For instance, Forensic Psychologists are expected to make a much higher amount than this. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Psychologists made an annual median income of $77,030 in 2017 on average in the country.

Career Outlook for becoming a Forensic Scientist in Louisiana

The job outlook for the field of forensic Science Technicians is bright, with a 17% growth rate. This rate is much faster than the average for all occupations.