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How to Become a Forensic Scientist in New Mexico

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The New Mexico Department of Public Safety (NMDPS) Forensic Laboratories Bureau provides forensic services to all law enforcement agencies in the State of New Mexico through its laboratory headquarters in Santa Fe and through its two regional laboratories located in Las Cruces and Hobbs.

New Mexico’s three forensic science laboratories provide the following services to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies operating here:

Santa Fe

  • Administration/DA Liaison
  • Controlled Substance Analysis
  • DNA/Serology
  • Evidencing
  • Firearm, toolmarks, and serial number restoration
  • Latent Prints (footwear, tire track and impressions)

Las Cruces

  • Controlled Substance Analysis
  • Evidencing
  • Latent Prints
  • Trace Analysis (fire debris)

Hobbs

  • Evidencing
  • Controlled Substance Analysis

The forensic scientists of the NMDPS Forensic Laboratories Bureau, in addition to the above forensic science services, also provide expert testimony in both state and federal courts and provide training services to law enforcement agencies and attorneys related to laboratory operations and forensic analysis, from Albuquerque to Rio Rancho and Roswell.

Forensic Science Degrees in New Mexico

A Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science degree prepares students to analyze, collect and process evidence and is generally aimed at students interested in forensics, DNA analysis, and criminal investigations. Given the increasingly important role forensics play in the criminal justice system, thanks to rapid advances in technology and biology, the number of colleges and institutions offering degrees in this field are growing.

A comprehensive undergraduate education in forensic science typically includes core courses in forensic science with a specialization in one of the natural sciences, including biology, chemistry, or anthropology.

Forensic science bachelor’s programs through degree-granting schools typically include the following core courses:

  • Survey of Forensic Science
  • Statistical Methods
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • General Physics
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biology
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Criminal Investigations

Core coursework within an area of specialization may include:

Forensic Biology

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Human Osteology
  • Humans and Primates
  • Introduction to Archaeology
  • Physical Geology
  • Workshop in Anthropology

Forensic Biology

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Cell Biology
  • General Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology
  • Principles of Immunology
  • Molecular Biology

Forensic Chemistry

  • Advanced Biochemistry
  • Biochemical Methods
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumental Analysis
  • Quantitative Analysis

How to Become a Forensic Scientist in New Mexico:  Qualifying for Forensic
Science Jobs

Forensic scientists in New Mexico are responsible for collecting, classifying, and analyzing physical evidence related to criminal investigations. They must also perform tests on weapons and substances and, at times, testify as expert witnesses regarding evidence results and crime laboratory techniques. Many times, forensic scientist jobs are specialized, with professionals possessing key expertise in such areas as fingerprinting, firearms examination, or chemistry.

Forensic science technician candidates for the NMDPS Forensic Laboratories Bureau must possess a specific set of skills and training. Specifically, individuals who want to learn how to become a forensic scientist in New Mexico must possess, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in one of the following:

  • Genetics
  • Forensic Science
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Biochemistry

Candidates for forensic scientist jobs in chemistry and DNA may qualify with a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology, and latent print and firearm forensic scientists may qualify with a bachelor’s degree, regardless of the discipline, or an associate’s degree, plus two years of additional laboratory experience.

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