If you are someone who is interested in pursuing a forensic science or a forensic science related degree in the state of New Jersey, then you should know that you will absolutely need a degree, usually at least a bachelor’s degree, from an accredited college or university in order to have success in the field.

If you’re like most students, you probably want to find shortcuts or loopholes in your education. The harsh truth is, however, that if you are already looking for shortcuts at this early stage of your career journey, you are probably not cut out for this line of work.

That may sound unfair, but the truth is that working in forensic science is tough. In fact, it’s tough before you even get started. You have to fully commit yourself to the hard work of earning a degree and then, once that hard work is over, to the further hard work of completing an internship and/or going through on the job training.

Therefore, only those who are committed to doing all of that hard work are going to stand a chance of making it in this difficult but rewarding career field.

This is not to say, of course, that there aren’t some ways to make your education go a bit faster. While you will still have to work just as hard, you do have options for completing that work in a shorter amount of time. One such option is to attend a community college or a trade, technical, or vocational school.

Such institutions often allow you to work toward your associate’s degree at your own pace, often offering classes online or in the evenings, making them perfect for those with work commitments or a busy family life. Plus, these institutions tend to be much cheaper than traditional colleges and universities.

Do be aware, however, that such schools usually only offer associate’s degrees, which are rarely enough to make it in the field. Therefore, you will need to be prepared to transfer your credits to an accredited undergraduate institution in order to complete your degree, which usually takes about two years of further work, often at a slower pace.

Those who want to earn their full degree in one fell swoop in a shorter amount of time than average should think about online colleges and universities. These institutions, based all over the world, allow you to work at your own pace and to set your own class schedule in most cases.

You do have to be careful though, because there are a lot of scams out there giving online colleges a bad name. These institutions exist only to take your money and waste your time. If they are unaccredited, you cannot earn an actual degree from them, no matter what they promise. Remember, a “diploma” or a “certificate” is not the same as an actual degree, nor is it a substitute for one. So do your research and always make sure you know exactly what you are getting into.

If you want to speed up your education without missing out on the experience and opportunities that tend to go along with traditional colleges and universities, look into a dual program, which offers you the chance to take some classes online and some classes in person.

Such programs are offered at a great many colleges in the state, but it is up to you to find and apply for them yourself. Keep in mind that your distance education classes will likely be more affordable than your traditional classes, so you’ll want to keep a good balance if budgeting is a concern.

Some traditional schools in the state that are known for providing dual programs include Fairleigh Dickinson University, located in Teaneck, and Gloucester County College in Sewell, which has a good associate’s degree program in criminal justice.

There’s also Monmouth University of West Long Branch, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology at Newark, which offers a master’s degree program in emergency management and business continuity. Another fine choice is Seton Hall University, located in South Orange, which has a master’s degree program in human resources training and development for law enforcement officers, and many other fine choices.