Two hundred people were employed as forensic science technicians in the Portland area in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This field is growing, and the Oregon Employment Department projects a 9.2% increase in the number of jobs available in Multnomah and Washington counties in the period from 2010 to 2020.
Both forensic science lab and crime scene investigator (CSI) jobs are available in Portland. The city has two forensic labs that employ forensic scientists and criminalists. They are listed below:
- Oregon State Police Forensic Services Division. The Oregon State Police provides full forensic services to all state and local law enforcement agencies, prosecuting attorneys, and medical examiners. Portland is the site of one of the five regional labs of this division. It is the only Oregon State Police lab that can positively identify individuals from the DNA fingerprinting of biological evidence.
- Portland Police Bureau Forensic Evidence Division. This lab employs a number of forensic science technicians. In 2011, sixteen criminalists worked day and evening shifts to help investigate 5,071 crimes.
In addition to jobs in forensic science labs, forensic scientists work in the field as CSIs. The Portland Police Bureau is one of the state’s departments that uses sworn officers as CSIs.
This police department was the first one in the Northwest to get a 3D laser scan station to document crime scenes, so that investigators can virtually return to the scene of the crime years later, if necessary. These officers are trained to get CSI certification by members of the agency’s Forensic Evidence Division.
The Oregon State Police also provides CSI services when necessary. Entry level forensic scientists are trained to process crime scenes.
How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator or Forensic Lab Scientist in Portland
Forensic Laboratory Scientists – These jobs require a bachelor’s degree in one of a range of sciences. The agency also requires five years of experience as a forensic scientist to obtain this type of position. One way in which to get this experience is to work as a volunteer or an intern.
The same type of degree is required to obtain an entry level forensic science position with the Oregon State Police, although experience is not technically required for this type of job.
Crime Scene Investigators – Applicants to become a crime scene investigator with the Portland Police must first join the force as a police officer. Applicants who take the exam are only required to have a high school education.
By the time they are hired, though, recruits must have either served in the military or have police experience or certification. If this is not the case, they must have either an associate degree or an equivalent amount of semester or quarter hours. Prospective law enforcement officers frequently obtain formal training in criminal justice to help them to become a police officer.
To obtain a higher level position as a criminalist requires a promotion. Police officers are eligible for one after having served 4.5 years. Three of these years must have been as a sworn officer.
Forensic Science and CSI Schools in Portland
Prospective students in Portland who seek a bachelor’s degree in forensics can obtain one from several schools in Oregon. Residents of the city can get an Associate of Applied Science in criminal justice from a local school.
Criminal justice degrees ranging from an associate’s to graduate level are available from a number of accredited online colleges. A number of schools that offer this type of degree also include a CSI component among the coursework.