Published on June 7, 2024
Edited by Evelyn Keener
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University Headquarters (HQ) is an industry-leading, independent educational organization that provides independent college rankings using a proprietary formula to create first class unbiased rankings. The team at University HQ strives to provide accurate and trustworthy rankings that highlights the best programs for forensic science in Illinois.

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What is Forensic Science?

Forensic science is an intriguing and essential field that serves a vital purpose within our criminal justice system. Illinois offers skilled forensic science professionals who utilize scientific techniques to investigate evidence and solve crimes. Forensic science encompasses various disciplines such as DNA analysis, physical pattern evidence analysis, forensic drug analysis, forensic chemistry, forensic toxicology testing, ballistics analysis, and fingerprint examination. Experts in forensic science work tirelessly to collect evidence that will be studied in forensic science laboratories and used in court proceedings against suspects who may or may not be guilty.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois had an estimated 2,560 forensic science technicians employed as of May 2020. These professionals work in crime labs, law enforcement agencies, medical examiner offices, and similar settings. Illinois requires its forensic science technicians to possess an in-depth background in science, as well as strong analytical and critical thinking abilities, in addition to possessing excellent attention to detail since their job often involves scrutinizing small pieces of evidence that could prove pivotal in criminal proceedings.

Illinois forensic science technicians may also be called upon as expert witnesses in court proceedings, which requires them to effectively communicate complex scientific information to judges, juries, and attorneys in an understandable way.


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Online Forensic Science Education in Illinois

Forensic scientists play an indispensable role in criminal justice systems by applying their scientific expertise to investigate evidence collected at crime scenes. Utilizing principles from biology and chemistry they utilize techniques such as DNA extraction, fingerprint identification, and gunshot residue identification to interpret physical evidence such as DNA, fingerprints, or residue gathered at crime scenes and interpret them for law enforcement. Their meticulous examination helps solve crimes more swiftly while prosecuting perpetrators with speed.

One fascinating part of forensic science is its use of cutting-edge technologies and techniques to solve mysteries. From using electron microscopes to conducting intricate laboratory experiments, forensic scientists constantly push the limits of scientific investigation. Furthermore, these experts often collaborate with law enforcement officers, pathologists, and legal specialists to gain a full understanding of each case they investigate.

Ultimately, forensic scientists provide much more than crime solving services; their work serves as a beacon of truth in the pursuit of justice. By applying their technical expertise in an organized fashion to uncover vital pieces of evidence that can make or break cases, forensic scientists define themselves by their meticulous attention to detail and strong commitment to scientific integrity.

Online Associate Degree in Forensic Science (AS)

An associate degree in forensic science offers individuals looking to enter the world of forensic investigations a great starting point. A forensic science program at this level equip students with foundational knowledge in areas like criminalistics, forensic biology and chemistry, and crime scene investigation. Furthermore, it incorporates theoretical coursework with hands-on practical experience to build key skills such as evidence collection, analysis, and interpretation.

One unique advantage of earning any degree in forensic science is the chance to work directly with experienced professionals in the field, both enhancing learning and providing invaluable networking opportunities. Furthermore, its emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving equips graduates to navigate complex forensic scenarios effectively; hence an associate degree serves as an ideal steppingstone toward further studies or entering Illinois' vibrant forensic science community.

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Online Bachelors Degree in Forensic Science (BS)

Earning a bachelor's of forensic science can open doors to an exciting and fulfilling career in criminal investigation and justice. These degree programs equip students with a comprehensive knowledge of forensic techniques, scientific principles, legal procedures, and crime scene analysis needed for solving crimes. With emphasis placed upon crime scene analysis, evidence collection, and laboratory testing - graduates leave these degree programs fully prepared to work as forensic scientists, investigators, or crime scene analysts.

One of the primary advantages of earning a bachelor's in forensic science is gaining hands-on experience through internships or practical training programs. These experiences enable students to apply their classroom knowledge to real world scenarios while building crucial evidence processing and analysis skills. With new technology constantly emerging and innovative forensic methodologies being developed, graduates with this degree will remain at the forefront of investigative methods used for solving complex criminal cases.

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Online Masters Degree in Forensic Science (MS)

Earning a Master of Forensic Science can open endless opportunities for those wanting to explore deeper into criminal investigation. Building upon the foundational knowledge obtained at the undergraduate level, this advanced degree equips students with highly sought-after forensic science skills such as crime scene analysis or DNA profiling; master's programs provide in-depth training that equip graduates to make significant contributions towards solving complex cases.

Pursuing a master's degree in forensic science allows students the chance to conduct independent research and contribute to cutting-edge advancements of forensic technologies, honing investigative skills while developing critical thinking and problem-solving abilities essential for success in criminal justice. Furthermore, earning such an advanced degree opens doors for leadership positions within law enforcement agencies, laboratories, or consulting firms as an expert in the field of forensic science.

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Online PhD Degree in Forensic Science (PhD)

Beyond just solving mysteries, this advanced degree provides individuals with the ability to push the limits of forensic science through research and innovative methodologies - with a specialization in interdisciplinary approaches and cutting-edge technologies which could revolutionize how crimes are solved and justice is administered.

Pursuing a PhD in forensic science can open doors to exciting career prospects beyond traditional forensic laboratories. From academia to consultancy roles, graduates may influence policy-making decisions, contribute as expert witnesses in legal proceedings, or lead their own research teams. With such specialization comes an increased potential to shape future practices of forensic science practices, while further contributing significantly to global criminal justice systems.

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Online Forensic Science Certifications

Forensic science certifications can make an enormous impactful statement about an individual's knowledge and expertise, making them more marketable in job searches. Illinois students aspiring to enter this field should obtain relevant certifications to give themselves an advantage on entering this industry.

There are various certification options for forensic scientists, from general certifications in forensic science to more specialized areas like digital forensics or crime scene investigation. These certifications give professionals the chance to dive deeper into particular aspects of forensic science while showcasing their proficiency. Furthermore, earning these credentials may open new career pathways and increase earnings potential when entering the workforce.

Become a Forensic Scientist in Illinois

Forensic scientists play a crucial role in solving crimes by collecting and analyzing evidence from crime scenes. Here are the steps you can take to become a forensic scientist.

  • Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Forensic Science or a Related Field

    Most forensic scientists require an undergraduate degree either in forensic science, biology, chemistry, or another related discipline. When selecting from forensic science programs, make sure it has been accredited by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) to ensure quality instruction.

  • Step 2: Gain Experience through Internships or Volunteer Work

    Engaging with the field of forensic science is vitally important, so take advantage of internship opportunities available through local crime labs, police departments, or medical examiner's offices to gain hands-on forensic analysis experience.

  • Step 3: Pursue a Master's Degree for Advanced Specialization

    While a bachelor's degree, or other undergraduate degree, may suffice for entry-level positions, earning a master's degree allows you to specialize in certain fields such as DNA analysis or toxicology, which will advance your forensic science career.

  • Step 4: Obtain Certification

    Illinois offers two accreditation organizations for forensic scientists; these are the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) and International Association for Identification (IAI). Certification can demonstrate your expertise and dedication to the field of forensic science.

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What Can I Do with a Bachelor's in Forensic Science?

With a Bachelor of Forensic Science, career opportunities in forensic science are expansive and diverse. Graduates may choose between becoming crime scene investigators, analyzing physical evidence at scenes of crimes to provide essential clues in solving cases, or entering toxicology, where professionals use their expertise to detect drugs or poisons in body fluids and tissues for use in criminal investigations. Furthermore, digital forensics allows graduates to explore cyber-crime by retrieving digital evidence from electronic devices for analysis.

Graduates with bachelor’s in forensic science can explore careers as forensic DNA analysts, using cutting-edge technology to identify individuals through biological samples found at crime scenes. This field offers significant potential to solve cold cases or exonerate wrongfully accused individuals through DNA profiling techniques. Furthermore, forensic accounting serves an essential function by investigating financial transactions for potential fraudulent activity; acting as a bridge between accounting principles and criminal investigations. However, those looking to enter forensic accounting will need an accounting degree.

Potential Careers for Forensic Science Graduates

Life, Physical, and Social Science Technicians

Life, physical, and social science technicians assist scientists in conducting experiments and research in various scientific fields. They work in laboratories, monitor experiments, collect data, and analyze results to help scientists make discoveries and advancements in their respective disciplines.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Associate's degree or higher in a related field of science
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Good analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work well in a team
  • Knowledge of laboratory techniques and equipment
  • Understanding of scientific principles and methodologies

Estimated Salary

  • The mean annual wage for life, physical, and social science occupations in the US in 2022 was $83,640
  • The mean annual wage for life, physical, and social science occupations in Illinois is $87,670

Occupational Health and Safety Technician

Occupational health and safety technicians are unsung heroes of workplace safety, working tirelessly behind-the-scenes to protect employees from potential risks. These professionals play an invaluable role in conducting inspections, analyzing work environments, and implementing safety protocols that save lives - especially as more remote work and evolving job roles emerge, these technicians may adapt their strategies to address new challenges in ensuring worker wellbeing.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Associate's degree in occupational health and safety or a related field
  • Certification in occupational health and safety preferred
  • Strong knowledge of OSHA regulations and other relevant safety standards
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Attention to detail and problem-solving abilities

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians in the US in 2022 was $75,240
  • The median annual wage for occupational health and safety technicians in Illinois is $69,750

Biological Technicians

Biological technicians assist biological and medical scientists in conducting experiments and research related to living organisms. They work in laboratories, field settings, and clinical environments to collect and analyze data, maintain equipment, and assist in experiments.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in biology, life sciences, or a related field
  • Strong attention to detail and ability to follow protocols accurately
  • Experience working in a laboratory setting preferred
  • Good communication skills and ability to work effectively in a team
  • Knowledge of basic scientific principles and research methods

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for biological technicians in the US in 2022 was $49,650
  • The mean annual wage for biological technicians in Illinois is $53,500

Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers

Popular culture often portrays police and sheriff's patrol officers in an idealized light, yet the reality of their jobs can often prove daunting. Law enforcement officers on patrol maintain public safety, respond to emergencies quickly, and provide assistance for those in need. Each day, their work includes patrolling neighborhoods, enforcing laws, conducting investigations, and maintaining order throughout their jurisdictions.

Necessary Requirements:

  • High school diploma or equivalent – Associate degrees preferred
  • Completion of a police academy training program
  • Valid driver's license with a clean driving record
  • Physical fitness and agility to handle the demands of the job
  • Strong communication skills and ability to work effectively under pressure
  • Ability to pass background checks, drug tests, and psychological evaluations

Estimated Salary

  • The mean annual wage for police and sheriff's patrol officers in the US in 2022 was $71,380
  • The mean annual wage for police and sheriff's patrol officers in Illinois is $82,470

Detectives and Criminal Investigators

Detectives and criminal investigators specialize in unravelling complex mysteries by piecing together clues that lead to crimes being solved. This work requires unique abilities such as keen observation, analytical thinking, and thinking outside the box.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Must be a graduate of a police academy or have relevant law enforcement experience
  • Strong investigative skills and attention to detail
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal abilities
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Physical fitness and stamina to handle the demands of the job
  • Knowledge of criminal laws and procedures

Estimated Salary

  • The mean annual wage for detectives and criminal investigators in the US in 2022 was $91,610
  • The mean annual wage for detectives and criminal investigators in Illinois is $100,140

Forest and Conservation Technicians

Forest and conservation technicians work in the field, supporting foresters, conservation scientists, and other professionals with managing and protecting forests and natural resources. They perform various tasks related to forest management, conservation efforts, and data collection.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Associate degree or certification in forestry, natural resources management, or a related field
  • Strong interest in environmental conservation and sustainable land management practices
  • Ability to work outdoors in various weather conditions and rugged terrain
  • Basic knowledge of plant identification, forest ecology, and wildlife biology
  • Good communication skills and the ability to work effectively as part of a team
  • Physical fitness and willingness to perform manual labor as needed

Estimated Salary

  • The mean annual wage for forest and conservation technicians in the US in 2022 was $45,000
  • The mean annual wage for forest and conservation technicians in Illinois is $55,330

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