How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator Forensic Scientist in Richland County, South Carolina

Becoming a crime scene investigator or forensic lab technician in Richland County is not for the faint-hearted. The forensic science field can involve working at gruesome crime scenes, and the analysis of human remains. Professionals in this field must be able to make it through a stringent hiring process and have the right education to qualify for forensic science jobs. In addition to cold cases, last year crime scene investigators and forensic laboratory scientists helped to secure evidence to prosecute 62 cases of rape, 337 robberies, and eight homicides.

The primary agencies employing forensic science professionals in Richland County include:

  • Columbia Police Department’s Crime Scene Investigation Unit and Chemistry Lab
  • Richland County Sheriff Department’s Crime Scene Unit and Crime Lab Unit
  • South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s Detectives and Forensic Laboratory
  • Cayce Police Department
  • Forest Acres Police Department


Forensic Science Career Options in Richland County

Preparing for forensic science laboratory and CSI jobs in Richland County involves obtaining a qualifying amount of education and experience. There are at least ten colleges, universities, and technical institutions with campus locations in the city limits of Columbia, plus additional online schools and regional facilities offering both degree and certification programs in the forensic science field.

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Education requirements vary among forensic specializations, and candidates can increase their credentials and level of competitiveness with the following:

  • Forensic Scientist: Becoming a forensic scientist means working in a laboratory environment in any number of specializations, for which a bachelor degree in any of the following will be helpful:


    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Biochemistry
    • Molecular Biology
    • Genetics and DNA
    • Forensic Science


  • CSI Detectives: These specialists rely on their extensive experience gained through law enforcement service, and can also qualify themselves for specific CSI positions by obtaining certifications such as:


    • Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
    • Fingerprint and Latent Print Identification
    • Crime Scene Investigator
    • Footwear and Tire Identification


  • Forensic Evidence Technicians: Incumbents in these positions can boost their qualifications with any of the following certifications:


    • Forensic Videography
    • Forensic Photography
    • Forensic Art


Working in Richland County

CSI investigators and crime scene processors will find themselves working throughout Richland County, from cases involving robberies on urban Columbia streets to decomposing human remains found in places like Congaree National Park.

Forensic laboratory scientists working in Richland County can choose their specialization among three different law enforcement agencies:

  • Columbia Police Department’s Chemical Analysis Facility


  • South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s Forensic Laboratory, specializing in:


    • Serology and DNA, including the Combined DNA Indexing System (CODIS)
    • Drug chemical analysis
    • Toolmarks and firearms, including the Integrated Ballistic Information System (IBIS)
    • Toxicology and breath alcohol analysis
    • Latent prints and fingerprints, including the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS)
    • Questioned documents
    • Trace evidence, including glass, fibers, paints, and gunshot residues


  • Richland County Sheriff Department’s Crime Lab, specializing in:


    • DNA and CODIS
    • Drug analysis
    • Firearms and toolmarks, including the IBIS and National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN)
    • Fire debris analysts and chemists
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