How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Texas?
Forensic Scientists aid the criminal investigation process by collecting and analyzing evidence. They apply complex concepts of natural science to examine physical evidence in mostly criminal and sometimes civil cases. To become a forensic scientist in Texas, you will need to follow a series of steps. These steps are by and large the same in all states, with variations arising according to specific job descriptions. Therefore, you are advised to use the following information as a general guide.
Duties of a Forensic Scientist
According to O*NET OnLine, the following are the duties of Forensic Science Technicians:
- Analyze forensic evidence to solve crimes.
- Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations.
- Record research or operational data.
- Interpret research or operational data.
- Testify at legal or legislative proceedings.
- Document events or evidence, using photographic or audiovisual equipment.
- Maintain laboratory or technical equipment.
- Operate laboratory or field equipment.
- Collaborate on research activities with scientists or technical specialists.
- Prepare compounds or solutions for products or testing.
- Train personnel in technical or scientific procedures.
To perform these complex duties, Forensic Scientists are required to possess skills such as active listening, reading comprehension, critical thinking and logical reasoning. They might also be required to possess analytical and scientific software skills, along with an understanding of CAD software and graphics.
Steps to Become a Forensic Scientist in Texas
The requirements for beginning a career in forensic science in Texas would mainly depend on the employer you are planning to work for. As far as the general requirements go, the following steps to become a forensic scientist in Texas would be applicable in most cases:
For most entry level positions in forensic science, you will be required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in forensic science or a related field. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics lists a bachelor’s degree as the minimum qualification to become a forensic scientist, anywhere in the US, including Texas. A bachelor’s degree in chemistry or biology would be sufficient as well, though students in these programs are recommended to enroll in classes related to forensic science in particular.
Many colleges across the state offer forensic science internship placement options. Getting an internship will help you get an in-depth look at the real world of professional forensic scientists. This would be a good training for you before you head off into the job market. Most entry level jobs might have some experience requirement; therefore, completing an internship would be important.
Before you actually begin working, you would be put through a training session by most employers. This on-the-job training is to ensure that you understand the requirements of the job and are trained enough to handle them on your own. Newly hired forensic scientists may be placed under experienced investigators to help them learn the proper procedures for collecting and recording evidence. The length of this training session may vary from employer to employer but generally, it wraps up in one year or less. Candidates may be required to pass a proficiency exam or be approved otherwise, before they are actually allowed to work on cases.
Jobs for forensic scientists may be available at federal, state or local levels in crime labs. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the local governments had 57% of the jobs for Forensic Science Technicians, while the state government had 29%. Other places included medical and diagnostic laboratories or testing laboratories.
Once you are employed in the field of forensic science, you can either use your years of experience for career advancement or get a higher educational qualification to avail better job opportunities. A master’s degree in forensic science would be a good path to career advancement since it can open up multiple specialized positions for you. Most higher education degrees would focus on specialized areas such as serology, microscopy or ballistics.
Certifications add to your professional credentials as a forensic scientist. A variety of organizations across the country offer such certifications. For example, The American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) offers two levels of certifications for professionals in this field – the Diplomate of ABC and the Fellow of ABC. Make sure you check the eligibility criteria for these certifications before applying. Furthermore, various universities and professional bodies offer certification programs for forensic scientists in Texas.
How much do Forensic Scientists make in Texas?
The annual mean wage of forensic science technicians in Texas was $55,420, according to May 2017 data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What is the job outlook for forensic scientists in Texas?
According to data provided by O*NET OnLine, the job outlook is highly positive for forensic science technicians in Texas. The occupation is expected to experience a positive growth of 28% in the state as compared to the national growth rate of 17% between 2016 and 2026. However, expect fierce competition. Applicants with master’s degrees, therefore, might fare better in the job market.