How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Louisiana

The Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory, which is part of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, was created in 1937 to provide forensic services to the State of Louisiana. The Crime Laboratory is responsible for assisting local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in the investigation of criminal activity through scientific analyses of physical evidence.

As the largest laboratory of its kind in the state—the lab receives more than 18,000 requests for analyses each year—the Crime Laboratory is used by both law enforcement and judicial agencies, from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and Shreveport.

The Crime Laboratory is accredited by the American Society of Crime Lab Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board in the following forensic science disciplines:

  • Controlled substances
  • Trace evidence, including fire debris, impression evidence, and general physical analysis
  • Biology
  • Latent prints
  • Toxicology
  • Firearms
  • Toolmarks
  • Crime scene

The Crime Laboratory is organized into distinct units, including:

  • DNA Unit
  • Drug Analysis Unit
  • Evidence Receiving Unit
  • Photo Lab
  • Physical Evidence Unit
  • Toxicology Unit

Forensic Science Colleges and Degree Granting Schools in Louisiana

With forensic science becoming a widely pursued discipline across the country, it comes as no surprise that there are a number of colleges and degree-granting schools in Louisiana that now offer degrees in this field.

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For example, students may pursue a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science, which provides study in scientific methodology as it relates to the legal system. This type of undergraduate degree is ideal for students who want to pursue careers in crime science investigation, DNA analysis, and forensics.

A typical Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science degree includes sequences in physics, biology, chemistry and mathematics, as well as a number of courses related specifically to forensic science. Students in these programs can expect to receive both classroom instruction and hands-on laboratory experiences.

Common coursework includes the following:

  • General Chemistry
  • Introduction to Forensic Science
  • Genetics
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Introduction to Law
  • General Physics
  • Cell Biology
  • Evidence Collection and Processing
  • Molecular Biology
  • Drugs and Toxicology
  • Forensic Microscopy
  • Introduction to Ethics

How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Louisiana

Individuals who want to learn how to become a forensic scientist in Louisiana may do everything from complete evidence examination to write reports. Candidates for Forensic Science Trainee positions must possess a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology, or forensic science and complete extensive, on-the-job training, while candidates for Forensic Scientist I positions must possess a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology, forensic science, or a related field, as well as two years of related experience.

Forensic Biology/DNA Specialists in Louisiana must possess a master’s degree or Ph.D. in biology, genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, or a related forensic, physical or natural science, with coursework in biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, and statistics/population genetics.

Many forensic scientist positions in Louisiana also require membership/certification through a number of professional organizations, including:

  • American Academy of Forensic Sciences
  • Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners
  • American Society for Testing and Materials
  • Louisiana Association of Scientific Crime Investigators
  • Southern Association of Toxicologists
  • Society of Forensic Toxicologists
  • Southwestern Association of Toxicologists
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