How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Florida

Based on a report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, forensic scientists have impressive career opportunities in the State of Florida. In fact, as of May 2012, Florida ranked second in the nation (behind only California) for its employment level of forensic scientists and fourth in the nation for its concentration of forensic science jobs.

Florida’s Forensic Science Colleges and Degree Granting Schools

Becoming a forensic scientist in Florida involves study through forensic science colleges offering both undergraduate and graduate programs. Florida is home to some of the most comprehensive forensics programs in the nation:

Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science

A Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science, which is designed for students seeking careers in forensic science laboratories, is a mix of biological sciences, physics and chemistry, as well as criminal justice and the law.

Coursework in this degree program includes:

  • Scientific Crime Scene Investigation
  • Forensic Microscopy
  • Forensic Evidence, Law and Criminal Procedure
  • Scientific Crime Scene Investigation
  • Professional Practices in Forensic Science
  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • General Physics

Master of Science in Forensic Science

A Master of Science in Forensic Science is designed to provide students with an opportunity to specialize in the field of forensic science in such areas as drug analysis, DNA analysis, criminalistics, and legal issues.

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Core coursework often includes the following:

  • Biological Evidence and Serology
  • Principles of Forensic Science
  • Forensic Toxicology
  • Advanced Criminalistics
  • Environmental Forensics
  • Metabolic Biochemistry
  • Toxic Substances
  • Forensic Entomology

Students in these programs may choose a number of tracks, or concentrations, such as: Forensic Biology, Forensic Chemistry, Forensic Physical Evidence, and Toxicology.

Graduate Certificates in Forensic Science

Students with undergraduate degrees in forensic science, chemistry, or biology may choose to pursue additional study in forensic science through a graduate certificate program, as these programs provide a solid foundation in both forensic science and laboratory work:

  • Certificate in Forensic DNA and Serology
  • Certificate in Forensic Toxicology
  • Certificate in Forensic Death Investigation
  • Certificate  Forensic Drug Chemistry

Forensics Careers in Florida

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) oversees the state’s crime lab, which is responsible for the examination of evidentiary materials that are used in the investigation of criminal cases.

There are seven regional laboratories in six locations:

  • Tampa Bay
  • Tallahassee
  • Pensacola
  • Orlando
  • Jacksonville
  • Ft. Myers

The FDLE crime laboratory system provides forensic science services in the following disciplines:

  • Biology/DNA
  • Chemistry
  • Crime Scene
  • Latent Prints/Impression Evidence
  • Toxicology
  • Digital Evidence
  • DNA Database
  • Firearms
  • Trace Evidence

How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Florida: Minimum Requirements

Forensic technologists and forensic scientists who work at the FDLE must possess, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in physical, biological, or forensic science. Further, candidates for these jobs must have completed at least 20 credit hours in physical or biological science with a “C” or better. Candidates must have a “C” or better in at least two of the three subject areas:

  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology

All candidates for forensic scientist jobs in Florida must submit to drug testing and a background investigation, including a financial background check.

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