North Carolina residents who would like to become forensic scientists should know that possessing a formal, higher education from an accredited college or university is absolutely vital to their success. In fact, the vast majority of successful forensic science professionals in the state will possess at least a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, forensic studies, general forensics, computer forensics, forensic psychology, criminal justice, or a related area.

Associate’s degrees can certainly be earned, but they are typically earned only with the intention of later transferring the credits to receive a bachelor’s degree in the field. If you already have your bachelor’s degree, even if it is in an unrelated subject area, you can also think about earning your master’s degree or, if you already have that under your belt, your PhD.

Generally, the higher your education, the higher your salary and the more opportunities you will have for success and promotion in the field.

No matter what degree major or degree level you decide to pursue, you will want to pursue it from a great college or university. What makes a college or university “great” is, first and foremost, being accredited. Ideally, your institution should also have a long and reputable history, a great reputation in your state and beyond, a high success rate for its forensic science graduates, and ample opportunities for its students to learn, grow, and succeed.

Since your choice of school can often determine whether you get a job or are denied, you will want to take the decision of which school to attend quite seriously. Definitely do your research on any school you are interested in.

Take a tour of the campus when possible, and don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as necessary to feel good about the decision that you are making.

Some schools in the state that do have a good reputation and that are commonly chosen by prospective forensic scientists in North Carolina include Alamance Community College, located in Graham, and offering an associate’s degree program in criminal justice technology, and Appalachian State University, in Boone, offering bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice, and risk management and assurance, as well as master’s degree programs in public administration, and criminal justice.

There’s also Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College of Asheville, which has an associate’s degree program in criminal justice technology, or Barton College at Wilson, offering bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice and criminology.

Some students choose Beaufort County Community College, located in Washington, which has an associate’s degree program in criminal justice technology, or, for a higher level degree, Belmont Abbey College, in Belmont, offering a bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice and security studies.

Belmont Abbey College is a religiously affiliated private institution, as is Campbell University of Buies Creek, which has bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice administration and in information technology and security.

While there are certainly many Christian schools in the state, don’t worry. You do not have to be religious to attend them, and, if you’d prefer to attend a secular school there is no shortage of choices.

Educational options known for being more liberal include Cape Fear Community College at Wilmington, which has an associate’s degree program in criminal justice technology, and Carteret Community College, located in Morehead, and offering an associate’s degree program in criminal justice technology.

There’s also Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, offering an associate’s degree program in criminal justice technology, and Central Carolina Community College of Sanford, which has associate’s degree programs in criminal justice technology with an emphasis on latent evidence, and general criminal justice technology.

And, rounding out your many choices, there is also Central Piedmont Community College at Charlotte, offering an associate’s degree in criminal justice technology; Chowan University, located in Murfreesboro, offering a bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice; Cleveland Community College in Shelby, which has an associate’s degree program in technology with an emphasis on criminal justice; and Costal Carolina Community College of Jacksonville, which offers an associate’s degree program in criminal justice technology.

Any of these many choices would be an excellent start for becoming a forensics professional and eventually enjoying a long and lucrative career in the field.