The critical 2009 National Academy of Sciences’ report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward, did not address wildlife forensics specifically, but many of its thirteen broad recommendations apply to our discipline as well. Among these is the recommendation that all forensic scientists become certified in their discipline. The SWFS certification program was crafted by SWGWILD specifically to ensure that those who practice wildlife forensics are well-qualified for their individual scope of work. Becoming certified will demonstrate and document your expertise to the court, your employer, and the public, and represents an investment in your future as a wildlife forensic scientist.

If you are interested in certification, review the Certification Criteria (below) to determine your eligibility. There will be two application cycles per calendar year. A call for applications will be made three (3) months prior to each due date. Complete applications are due by January 31 and July 31.

To apply, you will create an applicant user profile. As an Applicant, you will have secure access to the SWFS certification site that has interactive PDFs and a checklist to ensure you have all required documentation. When all application materials have been uploaded, you may submit the application upon payment of the Application Fee (US$250). For first-time applicants, the US$250 application fee includes your proficiency test fee for either the Mammal or Fish Genetics Proficiency Test, if enrolled in the SWFS Proficiency Testing Program. If applications are incomplete, the application fee will be refunded less a US$50 processing fee.

Certification Process Schematic

Certification Criteria

Education Requirements: Minimum requirement of a bachelor degree (or equivalent degree) in any related field such as biology, chemistry, environmental science, forensic science or equivalent as evidenced by transcripts or diploma.

  1. Proficiency Test Requirements: An annual proficiency test as applied to wildlife forensic science. Submit a letter of satisfactory completion of the most current external test. If external proficiency tests are not available, an internal wildlife proficiency test may be substituted. Submit a summary of the test including design, implementation, whether it was blind or not, and whether the analyst completed the test satisfactorily with the signature of the supervisor.
  2. Experience Requirements: One year of casework experience. If extensive casework training is completed prior to conducting actual casework, mock casework may be used for a portion of the one-year requirement.
  3. Assessment of competent performance in forensic practice: The assessment will be conducted primarily by review of recent casework of your choosing.
  4. Agreement to follow the Ethics and Standards & Guidelines of SWFS.
  5. Reference: A satisfactory Letter of Recommendation from supervisor on professional familiar with the applicant and his/her abilities and experience subsequent to being declared competent to undertake casework.

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