How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Alabama

Forensic scientists apply scientific principles to legal issues by performing chemical and physical analyses on evidence that is submitted by law enforcement officials. The work these highly trained professionals perform is often instrumental in apprehending and convicting criminals.

The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (ADFS) is a state agency that works about 60,000 cases every year. This agency’s caseload includes death investigations, drugs, firearms, and DNA samples. The ADFS is responsible for providing forensic services to Alabama law enforcement agencies through unbiased scientific analysis of evidence for the criminal justice system. The ADFS, which was formed in 1935, is one of the oldest forensic agencies in the United States.

How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Alabama: College and Degree Granting Schools

Upon completing an undergraduate degree in criminal justice, medical technology, pharmacy, chemistry, or a related field, many individuals for forensic scientist jobs in Alabama seek graduate degrees in forensic science.

There is currently one institution in Alabama that offer a graduate degree in forensic science. Individuals who want to become a forensic scientist in Alabama may choose to pursue the following degree granting program:

Master of Science in Forensic Science

A master of science in forensic science is designed for students who possess backgrounds in criminal justice, computer and information sciences, information, systems, information technology, and forensic accounting. This type of program allows students to develop skills and become familiar with industry practices, critical thinking, problem solving, and some of the most innovative methods, thereby preparing them for entry- or advanced-level positions in computer forensics, information security management, and forensic accounting.

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Master’s programs in forensic science often provide a core curriculum of about 36 semester hours, with an additional 12 hours of study in a chosen track. Core curriculum may include the following:

  • Separations/Spectroscopy
  • Crime scene reconstruction/advanced pattern analysis
  • Advanced microscopy
  • Research design and statistics
  • Biochemistry
  • Recent advances in forensic biology
  • Molecular biology
  • Genetics

About the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (ADFS)

The ADFS is responsible for investigating unlawful, suspicious, or unnatural deaths or crimes. The functions of the ADFS include:

  • Investigating Deaths/Crimes: Department functions as the scientific arm of law enforcement agencies
  • Certifying/Inspecting: Screens applicants and issues permits for chemical analysis of a person’s breath for alcohol intoxication
  • Administering Internal Operations: General administrative, financial and personnel activities
  • Managing the Agency: Internal office management activities
  • Managing Finances: Budgeting, purchasing, and accounting
  • Managing Human Resources: recruiting and hiring, providing compensation and benefits, and modifying job specifications
  • Managing Properties, Facilities and Resources

The ADFS is organized into 7 divisions:

  • Drug chemistry
  • Firearms and toolmarks
  • Forensic biology
  • Handwriting and documents
  • Implied consent
  • Pathology
  • Toxicology
  • Trace evidence

The ADFS provides the following services to law enforcement agencies, which may include prosecuting and defense attorneys in criminal cases:

  • Death investigation
  • Drug chemistry
  • Firearm and Toolmark
  • Forensic biology/DNA
  • Forensic pathology
  • Forensic toxicology
  • Implied consent training

Forensic Jobs and Careers in Alabama

The ADFS has a main office and laboratory in Auburn, although there are ADFS laboratories throughout the state:

  • Huntsville
  • Florence
  • Birmingham
  • Jacksonville
  • Tuscaloosa
  • Calera
  • Montgomery
  • Auburn
  • Dothan
  • Mobile

Candidates for forensic scientist jobs in Alabama must meet a specific set of criteria. Forensic scientist associates, for example, must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a major course of study in chemistry, medical technology, pharmacy, or a closely related field.

Regardless of the major, students must have at least eight courses in chemistry, along with preferred courses in toxicology, genetics, pharmacology, serology, or physics, to qualify for entry-level forensic scientist jobs in Alabama.

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