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How to Become a Forensic Scientist in South Carolina

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Forensic science specialists working in South Carolina play an important role in securing criminal convictions and taking dangerous persons off the streets. Earning an average of $44,750 last year, South Dakota’s forensic technicians also testified in court to explain their analysis of evidence when requested to do so by either the defense or prosecution. South Carolina has a highly competitive market for forensic science jobs, which are available to qualified candidates who possess the right combination of education and experience.

Forensic scientists commonly work in a lab environment with the following agencies across the state:

  • South Carolina Law Enforcement Division located in Columbia
  • Forensic Division of the Greenville County Department of Public Safety
  • Forensic Services Unit of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, serving county locations including Charleston and North Charleston

Competing for Forensic Science Jobs in South Carolina

Due in part to the popularization of the forensic science field on television, jobs in this field tend to be competitive. Having a forensic science degree or majoring in a related field can help candidates be better prepared to go head-to-head with their competition.

An associate degree in any of the following fields can mean a leg up in the application process, and having a bachelor’s degree will give candidates a greater level of expertise and career mobility:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Genetics
  • Criminalistics
  • Biochemistry

The requirements for how to become a forensic scientist in South Carolina have some variation depending on the hiring agency. For example, working as an entry-level forensic technician with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division requires at least a high-school diploma and either lab or information management experience, while working as a criminalist with the same agency requires a high school diploma and law enforcement experience, with the option to substitute a bachelor’s degree in any field for the law enforcement experience requirement.

There are several schools and colleges throughout the Palmetto State and online where candidates can obtain their desired level of education.

Advances in Forensic Science Leads to Cold Case Conviction in Columbia

In 1961 a Columbia taxi driver was found robbed and shot in the head. One month later a suspect was arrested in Tennessee on unrelated charges and police discovered he had a gun that matched the caliber and probably the model of the gun that was used in the Columbia murder, but ballistics tests at the time were unable to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.

More than three decades later a chance encounter between one of the victim’s family members and investigators prompted the case to be re-opened, and using modern technology and ballistic analysis methods, forensic scientists were able to determine conclusively that the man arrested in Tennessee was indeed in possession of the murder weapon. 41 years later, the suspect in the case received a life sentence for the killing.

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