Georgia (GA), also known as the Empire State of the South, offers abundant opportunities to forensic science people. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI), there were 703 reported murders across the state in 2018—the latest data available as of 2021.
However, these aren’t the only cases requiring careful evidence collection, documentation, and analysis of a skilled forensic scientist. A majority of the crimes committed in Georgia in 2018 were non-violent and related to the theft of personal property. There were 214,421 cases of robbery reported, 65.22 percent of all crimes in the state. In these cases, forensic scientists assist in collecting biological, chemical, or physical evidence to discover the identity of the perpetrator.
For people interested in crime-solving, there are many forensic science schools in Georgia to provide proper training. Coincidentally, the state motto embodies the core of a successful forensic investigation: “Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation.”
Read on to discover how to become a forensic scientist in Georgia and the occupational demand, featured forensic science colleges, program accreditation, and professional certification.
In Georgia, there are several paths to becoming a forensic scientist or forensic science technician. Some candidates receive hands-on crime training at a police academy and pursue associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees in forensics later on. As access to quality forensic science programs increases, it is becoming increasingly common to pursue one’s education and credentials before joining any number of investigative occupations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021), most forensic science technicians have at least a bachelor’s degree to qualify for entry-level positions.
Here is one direct path to becoming a forensic scientist in Georgia:
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019), there are currently 560 forensic science technicians employed in Georgia. This is one of many occupations that people trained in forensic science pursue. Alternatively, graduates for forensic science colleges in Georgia become crime scene investigators (CSIs), detectives, laboratory managers, handwriting analysts, forensic pathologists, and other related professions.
The BLS (2019) provides a breakdown of the annual salary ranges for the 560 forensic science technicians in Georgia, who commanded an average annual salary of $49,990 and the following percentiles:
In hourly figures, these equated an average of $24.04 per hour, and these percentiles:
It’s no surprise that the highest employment regions tend to be located around major urban centers. In fact, 410 of the 560 forensic science technicians in GA worked in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell area and earned an average annual salary of $49,690, slightly lower than the state average (BLS 2019). Here were the annual salary percentiles for that region of Georgia:
Additionally, there are several employment opportunities for those trained in forensic science in Georgia. In fact, the (BLS 2020) projected a 14 percent explosion in job openings nationwide for forensic science technicians between 2019 and 2029, much more robust than the average growth expected across all occupations during that period (4 percent).
Some of the common employing organizations across the state include:
Finally, there are many resources to provide support and further training to forensic scientists in Georgia. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) offers a comprehensive list of societies, professional organizations, conferences, publications, employment opportunities, and more, all related to the varied fields of forensics.
Georgia is host to many quality forensic science programs, including one bachelor’s program in forensic science accredited by the prestigious Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC):
Albany State University’s FEPAC-accredited forensic science bachelor of science (BS) degree program is offered through the College of Sciences and Technology. Through its rigorous coursework and supervised externship opportunities, Albany State aims to prepare aspiring professionals in forensic chemistry, microscopy, toxicology, photography, fingerprinting, and DNA.
Furthermore, this competitive program has received grants from the U.S. Departments of Education and Defense. It has the distinction of being the only established forensics program among HBCU (i.e., Historically Black Colleges and Universities) institutions nationwide. For the 2020-21 school year, tuition costs $169.33 per credit hour. Additional fees may apply.
There are several other notable forensic science colleges in Georgia, such as:
These are only a few of the forensics programs available. Here are some other renowned forensic science colleges in GA, including some with distance-based programs:
With rapidly expanding access to technology, schools have been developing distance education options for students who cannot attend more traditional, campus-based programs. www.forensicscolleges.com has gathered a compendium of online forensic science programs of varying levels and organized them by specialty to meet the needs of students regardless of their location.
As mentioned above, American Intercontinental University (AIU) offers its bachelor of science (BS) in criminal justice program through its Atlanta campus and provides the coursework online. AIU offers an optional specialization in forensic science, to make attending school more convenient for working professionals, parents, and people with other types of obligations.
The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University offers a fully online master’s of information systems (MIS) degree program in criminal justice. In 2021, the U.S. News & World Report ranked this criminal justice program #22 on the list of best criminology schools. The online masters in criminal justice program earned a #26 spot on the list of best online master’s in criminal justice programs in the nation.
Being one of the only online master’s degree programs in forensic science in Georgia, this program also offers a law enforcement leadership academy allowing students with professional experience to complete the program faster with pre-approval. This 30-credit MIS program can be taken on a full- or part-time schedule requiring approximately two or three years to finish depending on the number of courses taken each semester. A capstone is required to complete this degree, and students and their advisor committee select research topics.
Graduates from this program go to work for federal, state, and local law enforcement organizations. For the academic year 2020-2021, tuition costs for this program are $398 per credit for in-state residents and $1,259 for out-of-state residents.
These are only a few of the online forensics programs available from GA-based campuses. Again, Georgia residents may qualify for programs located in other states and are encouraged to check out the main page for online forensic science degree programs.
The primary accrediting body for forensics programs across the country is the Forensic Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). There is currently one FEPAC-accredited bachelor’s program in Georgia at Albany State.
While graduating from a FEPAC accredited program is not generally a prerequisite to employment or certifications in Georgia, it can be a useful marker of programmatic integrity, indicating to potential employers or graduate program admissions committees a student’s level of achievement. In addition to FEPAC, a program-accrediting organization, there are several institutional and regional accreditation bodies.
In Georgia, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) approves degree programs. SACS weighs criteria such as the quality of faculty, physical facilities, school finances, and student outcomes, among other measures.
Finally, several specialized professional certifications that aspiring forensic scientists may choose to pursue depend on their discipline. While admissions procedures vary, the process typically involves applying, verifying one’s educational and professional experience, and passing a competency-based examination. The Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB) has accredited 10 organizations to award professional certification. These FSAB-accredited organizations include:
|Southern Crescent Technical College||Griffin||x||23|
|Savannah State University||Savannah||x||7|
|Georgia Southern University - Armstrong Campus||Savannah||x||3|
|Atlanta Metropolitan State College||Atlanta||x||2|
School "total forensics grads" data provided by IPEDS (2018) for the 2016-2017 school year, and includes all certificates and degrees awarded for the following programs: Criminalistics and Criminal Science, Forensic Chemistry, Forensic Science and Technology, Forensic Psychology, Cyber/Computer Forensics, and Financial Forensics and Fraud Investigation.