How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Maryland?

Maryland has 420 forensic science technicians currently employed in various sectors, as of May 2017, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Forensic scientists in the state are required to be graduates of the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. This is a requirement by most employers of forensic scientists in Maryland.

To become a forensic scientist in any state in the US, you need to possess a certain skill set. Even though you may think you know what this field is all about, thanks to television series such as “Dexter” or “CSI”, the actual profession is tougher than you would imagine. So you need to ask yourself the following question:

How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Maryland
How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Maryland

Do you have what it takes to be a Forensic Scientist?

To become a good forensic scientist, you need to be inquisitive and methodical by nature. In addition to that, you will need to have good communication skills, reading comprehension and writing skills. Logical reasoning, critical thinking and oral comprehension are also handy personality traits to possess as a forensic scientist. Forensic scientists need to be able to identify known patterns that are hidden under distracting materials, so having a strong logical reasoning sense is considered an integral skill.

You may also be required to testify in court or legislative proceedings, so being aware of how the legal system works would also be required.

If you think you have what it takes to be a forensic scientist in Maryland, the following information would be of help to you. Bear in mind though, that the following steps are meant to be treated as general guidelines, rather than a strict path to becoming a forensic scientist. The exact requirements tend to vary according to the employer, location and seniority.

Steps to Become a Forensic Scientist in Maryland

The job of a forensic scientist is highly technical and will require a lot of education and training.

Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the minimum level of education required for entry level positions in this field is a bachelor’s degree. You may choose to complete a 4-year degree in any natural science or even forensic sciences. This foundational degree would help create a strong base for many potential careers or further education paths. A degree in any of the following disciplines is acceptable in most cases:

  • Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Medical Technology
  • Biology
  • Genetics
  • Criminal Justice
  • Forensic Science
  • Pharmaceutical Science

Even if you do not have a degree in one of the above subjects, you may still go for a career in forensic science, by completing coursework in subjects such as the natural sciences, astronomy, earth science, etc. Laboratory components are mandatory for many courses.

Step 2: Consider Getting Higher Education

Even though you only need a bachelor’s degree for most entry-level positions in the field of forensic science, some employers or jobs might require higher education. For instance, careers in psychology would require a higher educational qualification. Similarly, some states may require master’s degrees or PhD’s for advanced federal level jobs. You are advised to do your research well on the career path you want to opt for, and the requirements associated with it.

Step 3: Get a Job and Begin Training

You can find employment in a multitude of places – local, state and federal level jobs are  available in Maryland. In addition to that, you may also find work in medical and diagnostic labs, colleges, universities or professional schools.

Nearly all forensic scientists starting new jobs will be required to complete an on-the-job training session. This would help the new employees get a first-hand experience of how things work at their new workplace. The training session may last a few months and can even go on for a year or more – depending on the employers and the job description.

Step 4: Consider getting certified

There are several institutions in the US that offer credentials to forensic scientists. These credentials or certifications can be helpful when looking for advancement options or new challenges in the field of forensic science.

  • American Board of Criminalistics – This institute offers the Forensic Science Assessment Test, which deals with advance knowledge in Forensic Science.
  • American Board of Forensic Toxicology – This institute offers the credentials of a Forensic Toxicology Specialist to applicants who have at least a bachelor’s degree, along with three years of required experience.

Where can you find a job as a Forensic Scientist in Maryland?

There are several organizations offering forensic science jobs in Maryland. Have a look:

  • Maryland State Police (MSP) Forensic Sciences Division
  • National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center
  • Western Maryland Regional Crime Laboratory
  • Prince George’s County Police Department – Forensic Science Division
  • Baltimore Police Department Crime Laboratory
  • Maryland State Police Forensic Science Laboratory

How much does a Forensic Scientist make in Maryland?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Forensic Science Technicians in Maryland made an annual mean wage of $67,330, as of May 2017. This is higher than the annual mean wage for the US, which is $61,220.

Career Outlook for a Forensic Scientist in Maryland

Forensic Scientists in Maryland are earning more than the national average. Find out how to become a forensic scientist in Maryland here.