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How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Arkansas

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The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory is responsible for providing forensic science services to the state’s criminal justice system. Forensic scientists, from Little Rock to Fayetteville and Jonesboro and beyond, are also called upon to provide assistance to law enforcement personnel and expert testimony in Arkansas criminal courts.

The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory has 130 employees, the majority of whom are responsible for receiving, testing, and storing evidence. The state crime lab, which is the only forensic laboratory in the State of Arkansas, accepts evidence from investigations at the city, state and federal levels.

Services provided by the State Crime Laboratory include:

  • CODIS
  • Digital evidence
  • Firearms/Toolmarks
  • Forensic chemistry
  • Forensic DNA
  • Forensic toxicology
  • Latent fingerprints
  • Physical evidence

Forensic Science Colleges and Degree Granting Schools in Arkansas

The most widely accepted path to a career in forensic science is through an undergraduate degree in a science field, such as chemistry or biology, although a number of programs have been created that combine the scientific component of forensic science and the technical aspects of this career.

For example, there are colleges and degree granting schools that offer a Bachelor of Science in Forensics. These degree programs then allow students to select a track, or concentration, such as biology or chemistry.

A forensic science bachelor’s degree with a chemistry concentration may include the following coursework:

  • Forensic science survey
  • Criminal investigation
  • Criminal evidence procedure
  • Chemistry lab
  • Biochemistry lab
  • Survey of physical chemistry
  • General physics
  • Genetics
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Survey of physical chemistry
  • Genetics lab
  • Human genetics
  • Microtechnique
  • Immunology
  • Environmental toxicology
  • Crime scene investigation
  • Advanced analytical chemistry
  • Biology of the cell

Forensic Science Jobs in Arkansas

Candidates who want to learn how to become forensic scientists in Arkansas are best served by learning about the forensic scientist positions within the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory and the requirements needed to achieve these jobs:

Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)

  • Processes all convicted offender samples and felony arrestee samples utilizing DNA technology
  • Educational requirement: A Bachelor of Science, with coursework in molecular biology, genetics, and biochemistry

Digital Evidence

  • Analyzing computers, digital storage devices, video and audio evidence, and questioned counterfeit documents, including retrieving digital data
  • Educational requirement: A four-year degree in one of the natural sciences

Firearms/Toolmarks

  • Performs examinations on bullets, cartridge cases and shot shells with suspect weapons
  • Performs examinations on the identification of tool marks with suspect tools
  • Educational requirement: A four-year degree in one of the natural sciences

Forensic Chemistry

  • Performs analyses to identify controlled substances through the utilization of various scientific methodologies and instrumentation
  • Educational requirement: A Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

Forensic Chemistry – Illicit Labs

  • Performs analyses on controlled substances using scientific methodologies and instrumentation
  • Assists law enforcement agencies when dismantling suspected illicit laboratories and collecting evidence
  • Educational requirement: A Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

Forensic DNA

  • Analyzes biological evidence through the utilization of PCR technology
  • Educational requirement: A Bachelor of Science in Biology with coursework in molecular/cell biology, genetics, and biochemistry

Forensic Toxicology

  • Analyzes samples from the State Medical Examiner, as well as law enforcement officers and county coroners
  • Performs analyses on biological specimens to determine the presence and the level of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Educational Requirement: A Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

Latent Prints

  • Develops latent fingerprints using physical, chemical, and alternative light courses
  • Compares footwear and tire impressions
  • Educational requirement: A four-year degree in one of the natural sciences

Physical Evidence – Serology

  • Utilizes scientific methodologies and instrumentation to determine the presence of biological fluids
  • Educational requirement: A four-year degree in one of the natural sciences

Physical Evidence – Trace

  • Examines physical evidence for the presence of fibers, residue, hair, tape, etc.
  • Educational Requirement: A Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

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