How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Wyoming

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 40 forensic scientists working in the state of Wyoming earning an average salary of $58,030.

Wyoming has one school with a degree program in forensic science from which approximately three students graduate each year. The state has three four-year schools that offer bachelor’s or better degrees in the natural sciences.

The Society of Wildlife Forensic Scientists offers a professional certification in wildlife forensic science. Requirements for earning certification include:

  • Bachelor of Science degree in a relevant field
  • At least one year’s applicable experience
  • Passing grade on a proficiency examination
  • Performance evaluation
  • Letter of recommendation

How to Qualify and Apply for a Forensic Science Job in Wyoming

A list of job openings with the Division of Criminal Investigation and online application forms are found at the Wyoming state government jobs website. Applicants for forensic scientist jobs in Wyoming must hold a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, chemistry or another natural science.

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A description of jobs with the Wyoming Fish and Game Department Wildlife Forensics lab can be viewed at the Fish & Game Department website. The minimum requirements for a job at the forensic wildlife lab are:

  • Bachelor’s degree in biology, zoology, ichthyology, wildlife management or a related subject. Preference is give to candidates with a master’s degree.
  • Two years experience with a wildlife or fish resource management firm or a related establishment.

Wyoming State Crime Laboratory

The state crime lab, a sub-section of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, provides forensic services to the state’s criminal justice community. Its units are:

  • Chemistry. Conducts analyzes for controlled substances; analyzes materials from labs suspected of illegally manufacturing controlled substances and examines fire debris to find potential accelerants.
  • Trace Evidence. Analyzes hair, fibers, glass, gunshot residue, etc.
  • Firearms/Toolmarks. Determines whether an ammunition component or bullet cartridge case can be linked to a specific firearm; verifies firearm origins and bullet trajectories; establishes whether a tool mark was produced by a specific tool.
  • Latent Prints. Locates, visualizes and preserves friction ridge details of a finger, palm or foot, to compare with known impressions for possible identification.
  • AFIS. Utilizes the Automated Fingerprint Identification System database to compare fingerprints against the millions on file.
  • Lamp Exam. Examines vehicle lamps to determine whether they were illuminated at the time of impact.

Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensics and Fish Health Laboratory

The award-winning Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) laboratory in Laramie, WY, is nationally recognized for its work in wildlife forensics. WGFD forensic scientists help enforcement officials from seven western states to catch and prosecute individuals who take state resources illegally. Lab director Dee Hawk noted that while human crime labs have one species to test for, the WGFD lab has 18, including mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, bighorn sheep, moose, mountain lions, mountain goats, wild turkeys, etc. Analysis of a small piece of tissue or blood on an arrow can be used to determine both the type and gender of the animal involved.

The mission of the WGFD forensics laboratory is to protect and enhance Wyoming’s wildlife resources by focusing on fish health and wildlife forensics. Science is used to help law enforcement personnel implement hunting and fishing laws. Functions of the WGFD laboratory include:

  • Improving fish health in hatcheries
  • Preventing the spread of pathogens among fish in lakes/rivers/streams
  • Assisting law enforcement officers in apprehending poachers. In 2005 alone, forensic scientific testing not only helped the state of Wyoming earn $220,339 in fines and restitutions but was instrumental in putting serious offenders in jail.
  • Strengthening the relationship between the Fish &Game Department and outdoorsmen
  • Educating the community on wildlife conservation
  • Providing wildlife forensics services to other state and federal agencies
  • Working with the Trent Univ. forensic DNA lab in Ontario, Canada
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