Most of the forensic science technicians in Utah work in Salt Lake City. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 80% of forensic laboratory and crime scene professionals employed in the state in 2012 were located in Salt Lake City.
Two crime labs in Salt Lake City employ both forensic laboratory analysts and crime scene investigators (CSIs). In addition, a private laboratory in Salt Lake City specializes in forensic DNA analysis.
Forensic Science Jobs
- Utah Department of Public Safety Forensic Services Criminalistic Laboratory System – This department has three labs located throughout Utah with the lab in Salt Lake City being the primary, central location. It employs 17 criminalists that help law enforcement agencies and prosecutors throughout the state by analyzing evidence from crime scenes.
- Salt Lake City Police Department Crime Lab – This lab works in partnership with officers and employees of the Police Department. Technicians of the lab have expertise in working with many types of physical evidence. The lab received 864 requests for evidence to be examined in 2012.
- Sorenson Forensics – This private company employs experts in forensic DNA analysis. It provides casework and validation services for crime labs all over the country and works on a wide array of criminal cases.
- Utah Department of Public Safety Forensic Services Criminalistic Laboratory System – In addition to providing forensic lab results, members of the lab in Utah assist a wide variety of agencies with their crime scene investigations. Clandestine methamphetamine labs are common in Utah and pose safety hazards to law enforcement officers who investigate them. The lab has a special team that has been trained to deal with these types of labs.
- Salt Lake City Police Department Crime Lab – This lab employs civilian crime scene technicians who work as CSIs in the field. In 2012, the lab received 8,778 requests for help in the field.
How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Salt Lake City
Forensic Laboratory Scientists: To become a forensic scientist who performs lab analyses requires extensive training.
- Criminalist – The forensic employees of the Department of Public Safety’s lab are known as criminalists. All of them have at least a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or an area of biology, while several have graduate degrees, including doctorates.
- Forensic DNA Analyst – A bachelor’s degree in chemistry or an area related to forensic sciences is required to obtain this type of position at Sorenson Forensics. Applicants must have course work or classes that have covered the following topics:
- Molecular biology
- Statistics and/or population biology
- Forensic DNA Technician. Applicants for this position at Sorenson Forensics must have had coursework that covers some aspects of the courses listed above. The company prefers applicants who have six months of lab experience.
Crime Scene Investigators: Potential applicants to the Salt Lake City Police Department learn how to become CSIs through education. The entry level crime lab technician position requires an associate’s degree in one of the following fields:
- Police science
Formal training in crime lab techniques can substitute for this requirement if it has been an equivalent amount. Experience in photography and fingerprinting is also required, although education can substitute for this.
These technicians can advance to higher level positions as they take more coursework in different areas of forensic science. A bachelor’s degree is required to become a Step 5 crime lab technician.
Forensic Science and CSI Degree Granting Schools in Salt Lake City
Prospective students who want to obtain a bachelor’s degree in forensic science have several options at schools located in Utah. Salt Lake City has several colleges that offer criminal justice degrees. Such degrees formally cover police science.
Students can obtain associate or bachelor’s degrees in Salt Lake City. Another option is to enroll in one of the many accredited online colleges that offer such degrees.