How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Utah

The purchase of a new piece of forensic science technology by a private crime lab led to the resolution of a cold case in Utah recently. Sorenson Forensics of Salt Lake City purchased a M-Vac, a vacuum that can gather 80 percent more DNA from a blood stain on fabric and 40 percent more DNA from a saliva stain on polyester than the traditional cotton swab method. The M-Vac was used by forensic scientists from the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Department to obtain DNA from two rocks that were untested in a cold homicide case. It was discovered that the perpetrator of the crime had left his DNA on one of the rocks that was used to bludgeon the victim to death. The perpetrator was apprehended in Florida, where another DNA test of a cigarette he had been smoking linked him to the DNA on the rock.

Utah forensic scientists do not always get to participate in high-profile cases that garner much press coverage. However, sometimes they do get the reward to helping to solve cold cases such as this.

Getting the Right Forensic Science Education in Utah

To meet the required education for forensic science jobs in Utah, one must usually obtain at least a certificate or associate’s degree. Some forensic scientist jobs in Utah require a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Forensic science employers in Utah are likely to recruit graduates of forensic science programs accredited through the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Educational options for forensic science in Utah include:

  • Associate of Science degree in Criminology and Forensic Technology
  • Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a Forensic Emphasis
  • Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry with a Forensic Emphasis
  • Bachelor of Science in Digital Forensics Technology

Some recently advertised forensic science jobs in Utah include:

  • Analyst I
  • Instructor, College-Level
  • Forensics investigator
  • Forensic Scientist

Organizations Supporting Forensic Science Jobs in Utah

  • Utah Department of Public Safety Bureau of Forensic Services – This is the main crime laboratory for the state of Utah, and offers services free to all Utah police agencies. It specializes in firearm tools and marks, impressions, forensic chemistry and forensic biology. Labs are located in the following cities:

  • Utah County Sheriff’s Office Evidence and Forensic Crime Lab – Located in Spanish Fork, this is the main forensic lab used for crimes occurring in Utah County. The lab at the Utah County Sheriff’s Office controls over 80,000 pieces of evidence simultaneously.
  • West Valley City Police Department – Forensics Section – The forensic section of this city police department has forensic investigators who perform crime scene collection of evidence and analysis of that evidence in the laboratory.  Fingerprint processing, footwear and tire impression casting, blood spatter pattern documenting, bullet trajectory documenting, drug testing and digital photography/video services are just a few of the services provided by the Forensics Section.
  • Sorenson Forensics – This private crime lab in Salt Lake City performs consulting and contracted services in assisting law enforcement agencies in Utah. Its work primarily concentrates on DNA testing and analysis.

Professional Training for Forensic Science Jobs in Utah

The Utah Department of Public Safety Bureau of Forensic Services provides training to those who already hold forensic science jobs in Utah.  These trainings are typically offered to individuals working for law enforcement agencies in Utah. Courses include:

  • Crime scene specialist
  • Trace evidence collection
  • DNA technology
  • Evidence packaging
  • Marijuana leaf and FIDO technician

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