How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator Forensic Scientist in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

There are two main sources of forensic science jobs in Allegheny County:

  • Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office
  • Pittsburgh Police Department

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office has a system of laboratories that provide the following types of forensic analyses:

  • Trace evidence
  • Toxicology
  • Latent prints
  • Forensic biology
  • Firearms/toolmarks
  • Environmental health
  • Drug chemistry

The firearms/toolmarks section was officially recognized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives for having made its 1500th identification of a gun cartridge in 2008.

Both the county and municipal agencies have their own mobile crime units.  These enable crime scene investigators (CSIs) to process evidence at the scene of crimes.  The County hires civilian CSIs, while the fourteen Pittsburgh Police Department investigators are detectives who are experts in forensics.  In 2009, the Police Department’s mobile crime unit processed evidence from over 3,300 crime scenes.

Forensic Laboratory Science Degree Granting Schools in Allegheny County

In Pittsburgh alone, there are a number of options for prospective students seeking to obtain forensic or criminal justice degrees.  Several local schools offer bachelor’s degrees in forensic science, and there is a local degree option for a master’s in forensic science and law.

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One way in which to get CSI training is to get a degree in criminal justice with a relevant concentration.  Those available from colleges in Pittsburgh include the following:

  • Certificate:  criminalistics or criminal justice
  • Associate’s:  criminal justice, criminology
  • Bachelor’s:  criminal justice, justice, law enforcement
  • Master’s:  criminal justice administration

In addition to obtaining a degree at a local school, residents of the county have the option of enrolling in one of the accredited online schools that offer degrees in these fields.

Requirements for CSI and Forensic Laboratory Scientist Jobs in Allegheny County

The requirements to obtain forensic jobs in Allegheny County differ a great deal depending on these factors:

  • Technician vs. scientist
  • Civilian vs. peace officer detective

Some post secondary education provides the best chance for those pursuing a technician’s position as a forensic evidence specialist for the county.  There is a great deal of competition for such positions, and applicants frequently obtain some type of formal training in criminal justice to enhance their likelihood of gaining employment.

To become a forensic laboratory scientist for the county requires at least a bachelor’s degree in one of the following or a related field:

  • Analytical chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

Applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in a field that is not related to these must have an advanced degree in one of these fields or one that is closely related.  The county staffs its mobile crime unit with scientists who work as CSIs.

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