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Whether you are lured by the romantic charm of investigative programs like CSI or Bones, or you are a science enthusiast who wants to serve society and community by being a part of the legal system, a career in forensics and criminal justice is the ideal career for you.
Forensic science technicians analyze physical evidence in the laboratory by performing a series of tests following established guidelines and then they document their findings through reports. Another aspect of their job entails appearing as expert witness in legal proceedings.
Since this is a highly technical field which requires dealing with technologically advanced equipment, forensic scientists are required to have solid knowledge of chemistry, physics and biology. The minimum qualification is a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensics and Criminal Justice or graduate degree from college in any of the physical and biological sciences. Students can also pursue Online Degrees in Forensic Science across all levels ranging from diplomas and certifications to undergraduate and graduate degrees, and even doctoral programs.
Many top colleges and universities in California offer degrees in:
In addition to studies, students should try to gain first hand lab experience through internships. Since this is a rapidly evolving job, ongoing and continuing education is also required to keep you abreast of industry changes. The Bureau of Forensic Services also offers special forensic science training and research facility through California Criminalistics Institute.
Most forensic scientists can find jobs in crime laboratories run by their city, county or by state of California itself. Others find jobs in police departments, sheriff departments, Federal Bureau of Investigation, law firms and insurance companies. The attorney general of California’s website can be contacted for information about internships and job opportunities.
The BLS predicts that forensic science technician jobs will grow at about 19% from 2010-20, which is as fast as average, with the best opportunities for people with a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science.
California, in particular, offers great prospects for people who want to make a career in Forensic Science and Criminal Justice. According to BLS, with 1670 jobs, California has the highest employment levels of forensic science technicians. Not only does it offer the most jobs, but the Golden State also offers the fourth highest salary in the country to forensic technicians with an annual mean wage of $68,880.
As of May 2011, six of the top 10 metropolitan areas that pay the highest wages to forensic technicians were in California:
|Overall Rank in States||Metropolitan||Area Annual Mean Wage|
|4||San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$75,390|
|5||Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA Metropolitan Division||$75,320|
|7||Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA||$68,040|
|9||San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA||$65,680|
|10||Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA||$64,790|
The California Association of Criminalists conducts an exhaustive annual salary survey of all criminalist jobs in the state and publishes the report on its website. This is a valuable resource for finding out exactly how much forensic science and criminal justice experts are paid in the industry depending on their skill level, years of experience, industry and metropolitan area.
California is ripe with career opportunities for forensic science technicians and criminal justice investigators so get your Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science from an accredited university in California and start living your dream!