How to Become a Forensic Scientist in North Dakota

Forensic scientists working in laboratory settings throughout North Dakota specialize in everything from saliva screening to blood analysis and ballistics. Thanks to the work and testimony of forensic scientists, criminal convictions can be secured based on microscopic evidence. Once candidates for forensic science jobs in North Dakota have obtained the necessary education they will be ready to apply to any number of agencies across the state. Although every crime lab or forensic analysis organization has its own employment requirements, having an appropriate education is common among all agencies in the state. In North Dakota, these agencies include:

  • Grand Forks Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Bureau
  • Forensic DNA Facility at North Dakota State University in Fargo
  • Minot Police Department
  • North Dakota State Crime Lab in Bismarck

Forensic Science Schools and Colleges in North Dakota

There are a number of schools and colleges across the state and online that offer a forensic science degree and other related associate’s and bachelor’s programs. The vast majority of all employers in the field require that candidates possess either a bachelor’s degree, or a combination of school and experience that is deemed to be equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.

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Besides majoring in forensic science, other relevant degree programs available in North Dakota include:

  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Microbiology
  • Physical Science
  • Information Technology
  • Genetics
  • Medical Technology

Working in North Dakota’s Crime Labs

A day in the life of a forensic scientist in North Dakota can be both challenging and rewarding. One of the major employers of specialists in this field is the state’s crime lab. Here candidates will find a microcosm of the types of specializations available to forensic scientists across the state, such as:

  • Biology Unit: Forensic scientists specializing in biology conduct screenings of biological material in search of viable DNA evidence. Sampled materials include:
    • Blood
    • Semen
    • Tissue
    • Feces
    • Urine
    • Hair
    • Saliva
    • Skin cells
  • Drugs Unit: The Drugs Unit uses a variety of means to analyze substances to test for controlled substances. Techniques include:
    • Color tests
    • Chromatographic techniques
    • Microscopic examinations
    • Spectrophotometer
    • Gas chromatograph mass spectrometry
  • Trace Unit: Paint, hair, and fiber samples submitted from around the state are analyzed by the Trace Unit to determine any connections to a common source, such as those that may be unwittingly carried by a suspect from one place to another
  • Latent Print Unit: When evidence is submitted to this unit it will be thoroughly examined for any identifying marks made by a human hand, including palm prints or skin friction marks
  • Firearms/Toolmark Unit: This unit examines firearms and weapons evidence gathered from crime scenes that includes:
    • Expended bullet cartridges
    • Ammunition cases and clips
    • Function tests
    • Distance measurements of muzzle-to-target
    • Trigger pull measurements
  • Fire Debris Unit: Was it arson or accidental? This is one of the questions the Fire Debris Unit answers when analyzing materials from fires for things such as chemical residues and burn marks to determine the source and temperature of the fire. Besides burned materials, the unit may analyze any of the following for combustible and chemical substances:
    • Empty containers
    • Clothing
    • Vegetation and soil near the burn site
    • Suspect liquids
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