The Nebraska State Patrol Crime Laboratory, which was established in 1971, is a full-service forensic laboratory that is responsible for performing services necessary to preserve, identify, and analyze evidence materials related to the investigation of crimes. The Crime Laboratory, which is fully funded by the government, provides services to all law enforcement agencies in the state, including local, county, state, federal and military agencies.
The forensic science services provided to the law enforcement agencies of Nebraska, from Omaha to Bellevue to Grand Island, are divided into sections:
- Drug Chemistry Section
- Latent Fingerprints Section
- Biology/DNA Section
- Trace Chemistry Section
- Questioned Documents Section
- Toxicology Section
Nebraska’s Crime Laboratory, which is now housed entirely in Lincoln, includes a staff of 24. It is ASCLA/LAB accredited and the forensic scientists there are often called upon to provide technical assistance and educational services to the state and local agencies regarding forensic science matters.
Forensic Science Colleges and Degree Granting Schools in Nebraska
A Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science is the first step for individuals who want to learn how to become forensic scientists in Nebraska. Within this field, it is quite common for colleges and other degree-granting schools to offer a number of tracks or specializations.
For example, students may focus their Bachelor in Forensic Science on Crime Scene Investigations or Forensic Biology. A concentration in Forensic Biology, which is most often sought by those individuals who want to pursue forensic scientist jobs, is designed to prepare students to work in a laboratory setting, where they will identify and analyze a wide range of biological evidence, including DNA.
A Bachelor’s in Forensic Science with a concentration in Forensic Biology is an interdisciplinary program that includes coursework in the sciences, including molecular biology, forensic biology, biochemistry, and genetics, among others, along with a core curriculum typically consisting of:
- Survey of Criminal Justice
- Introduction to Forensic Science
- Forensic Science Seminar
- Comparative Analysis
- Current Issues in Forensic Science
- Forensic Science Seminar
Nebraska’s Forensic Scientist Job Requirements
Individuals who want to learn how to become a forensic scientist must first set their sights on an undergraduate degree in one of the natural sciences or in forensic science, as the minimum requirement to work as a forensic scientist in Nebraska is a bachelor’s degree in one the following fields of:
- Natural science
- Physical science
- Forensic science
Further, because forensic scientists in the Crime Laboratory are called upon to perform DNA analyses, these professionals must also complete specific coursework (at least 9 semester credit hours), in the following:
- Molecular Biology
- Statistics/Population Genetics
The preferred requirement for these forensic professionals is at least one year of experience performing DNA casework within an accredited forensic science laboratory.
All candidates for forensic science jobs in Nebraska should expect to undergo an extensive background screening as a condition of their hire, and all candidates will be screened for a criminal history through a fingerprint-based check.