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How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Alaska

Forensic scientists perform two vital roles for the law enforcement community and the criminal justice system: they analyze physical evidence related to a crime, and they provide expert testimony in a court of law. Their work provides the judicial system with expert opinions and analyses of evidence, which are crucial for many criminal court cases.

The Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory, which is a part of the Alaska Department of Public Safety, consists of an 18,000-square-foot facility that was built in 1986 after the formation of the state agency in 1984. The Alaska Department of Public Safety provides the following testing services to Alaska’s law enforcement agencies, from Anchorage and Fairbanks to Juneau and Sitka:

  • Biological screening
  • Blood alcohol
  • Breath alcohol
  • Controlled substances
  • Crime scene investigation
  • DNA
  • Firearm/Toolmark
  • Latent fingerprints

Forensic Science Colleges and Degree Granting Schools in Alaska

Forensic science degree granting programs are usually organized as bachelor degrees in criminal justice with specialization in one of the forensic fields, including forensic science. As such, students may obtain an undergraduate degree in criminal justice with a specialization in forensic science. Students are also often encouraged to double major in chemistry, biology, or physics when seeking careers as forensic scientists.

Major course requirements in a criminal justice bachelor’s degree program with a forensic science specialization include:

  • Crime scene and death investigation
  • Criminal investigation
  • Criminal justice organizations
  • Criminal justice research methods
  • Criminal justice statistics
  • Criminal law
  • Criminology
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Forensic science
  • Forensic science lab
  • Molecular and cellular biology

 

How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Alaska

A University of Alaska career sheet on careers in forensic science report that candidates who want to achieve jobs as forensic scientists in Alaska should complete an undergraduate degree in science related area, such as: chemistry, clinical chemistry, pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, or a related field. Related coursework should be concentrated in physics, computer science, statistics, math, and forensic science.

Further, this career report states that candidates for forensic science jobs should pursue laboratory experience in such areas as:

  • Animal performance monitoring
  • Ante-mortem investigation
  • Chemistry techniques and instruments
  • Crime-related investigation
  • Drug testing
  • Environmental contamination testing
  • Human performance monitoring
  • Post-mortem investigation

Recent job postings for forensic scientists in Alaska are indicative of the requirements needed to become a forensic scientist in this state. For example, a Forensic Scientist IV is required to possess, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, which must include at least 18 semester hours in one or more of the following areas:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Analysis
  • Criminalistics
  • Forensic Sciences
  • Physics

This advanced position also requires candidates to possess at least one year of experience as a forensic scientist III with the State of Alaska.

Another job posting for a forensic scientist III, Biological Screener DNA, requires the same college/university background, along with biological screening analysis experience and training or coursework in statistics related to DNA analysis.

About Alaska’s Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory

The Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory is responsible for:

  • Performing testing in biological screening, DNA, latent fingerprinting, firearms/toolmark, blood alcohol testing and drug identification for law enforcement officials
  • Providing court testimony
  • Administering breath alcohol testing program
  • Training law enforcement officers in the areas of evidence collection and evidence preservation

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