The state of Utah indicates that the field of forensic science has high wages and a good employment outlook, giving it a four star rating on a scale of one to five in its career assessment rubric.
The category of forensic science technician includes both crime scene investigators (CSIs) and forensic scientists who analyze evidence in a lab. In some cases, the same individual performs both functions.
Utah County has a high-powered Evidence and Forensic Lab as part of the Sheriff’s Office. It is part of the Investigations Division and controls a large number of pieces of evidence—over 80,000 at once. Among the different types of evidence that are analyzed in the lab:
- Impressions (tire and footwear)
- Bullet trajectory
Members of the lab also manage crime scenes for all of the major cases of the Sheriff’s Office.
In addition to CSI work from the Sheriff’s Office, five detectives from Criminal Investigation Division of the Utah County Attorney’s Office are available to investigate crime scenes where an officer has been involved in a shooting. The reasons for this are two fold:
- Having an outside agency conduct the investigation removes the appearance of a possible conflict of interest. This is highly important when civil lawsuits are a frequent issue.
- Investigating this type of incident typically involves approximately 700 hours.
How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Utah County
To become a crime scene investigator or forensic laboratory scientist for Utah County, applicants must apply to be an evidence and fingerprint technician. This requires both
- Two years of experience as a certified law enforcement officer
- The equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in one of the following or a related area:
- Criminal justice
- Forensic science
The county prefers to hire technicians that have completed basic and advanced courses in a field of forensic discipline recognized by one of the following institutions:
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAGS)
- International Association for Identification (IAI)
Applicants must be prepared to pass a full background check.
Residents of Utah County can obtain a forensic science degree in one of several schools located in Utah. Those seeking a criminal justice degree can get an associate or a bachelor’s degree in the field from two colleges located in the county. In addition, a number of accredited online schools offer degrees in criminal justice.