How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Texas

According to Texas Tracer Labor Market Information, between 2010 and 2020 an estimated 340 new jobs for forensic science technicians will become available statewide. Because of the vastness of Texas, many forensic science and crime laboratories are located throughout the state. Some of these are affiliated directly with law enforcement agencies, while others are privately owned organizations. Fields within forensic science include forensic biology, forensic chemistry, toxicology, evidence processing and photography/videography. Forensic science jobs in Texas require those who have the necessary college education in these specialized fields.

Job titles for those with forensic science degrees in Texas include:

  • Senior trace analyst
  • Forensic photographer
  • Latent fingerprint examiner
  • Senior firearms examiner
  • Forensic biologist
  • Criminalist

Getting a Forensic Science Degree in Texas

Most forensic science jobs in Texas need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but some technical and technician positions may be obtainable with an associate’s degree. The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences accredits the highest quality college programs.

Forensic science education in Texas includes these degrees:

  • Certificate in Forensics
  • Associate of Science in Forensic Science
  • Associate of Science in Criminology and Forensic Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science-Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Chemistry
  • Bachelor of Science in Digital Forensics Technology
  • Master of Science in Forensic Science
  • Master of Science in Forensic Genetics

Organizations Supporting Forensic Science Jobs in Texas

  • Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Laboratory Service – This is the main crime laboratory used by law enforcement agencies in Texas. The service employs 279 forensic scientists and 83 support personnel. It has 13 locations, including:

    • Austin:  Main Laboratory, Breath Alcohol Laboratory
    • Abilene
    • Amarillo
    • Corpus Christi
    • Garland
    • El Paso
    • Houston
    • Laredo
    • Midland
    • Lubbock
    • Tyler
    • Weslaco
    • Waco
  • Texas State Fire Marshal Forensic Arson Laboratory – Located in Austin, this laboratory provides free services to fire and law enforcement agencies across Texas. Its services include analyzing arson debris for ignitable liquids.
  • Texas Parks & Wildlife Natural Forensics Laboratory – Located in San Marcos, this laboratory examines evidence collected from the environment. Its main goal is to help fish and game wardens prove that fish and game being offered for sale locally are legally farm-raised or illegally wild caught.
  • University of North Texas Center for Human Identification – This center located in Fort Worth has three components:

    • Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology – analyzes anthropological human remains for medicolegal agencies and law enforcement agencies.
    • Laboratory for Molecular Identification – provides molecular identification services for law enforcement agencies
    • Forensic Services Unit – assists with missing person and unidentified cases nationwide, both current and cold cases. Services include managing the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, working with forensic artists to do facial reconstructions, and providing training nationwide.

Professional Training for Forensic Science Careers in Texas

Often, those who achieve their dreams of a forensic science career in Texas require additional training or continuing education in order to keep or advance in those jobs. Training that is provided for professional forensic scientists in Texas includes:

  • University of North Texas Center for Human Identification Online Training Courses – Created by RTI International, these courses are free and include:
    • Developing a Missing Persons Protocol
    • Forensic Anthropology
    • CODIS for Missing Persons
    • Investigative Strategies
    • Cold Case Safety Net
  • Texas Forensic Science Training and Consulting – This privately owned company provides consulting and training for forensic scientists in prosecutors’ offices and law enforcement agencies in Texas. Topics include:
    • Latent print development
    • Death investigation
    • Crime scene photography
    • AFIS and IAFIS
    • Forensic light source in the laboratory
    • Basic and advanced bloodstain pattern analysis

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