Interview With Tate Yeatman, Crime Laboratory Director, Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office
We spoke with Tate Yeatman, crime laboratory director at the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, to learn why he chose UF to complete his master’s degree in forensic science, how he enhanced his career goals with our online program and his advice for prospective students:
Please provide an overview of your day-to-day responsibilities.
As crime lab director for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, I oversee the managerial, budgetary and administrative duties within the Crime Laboratory. I am responsible for demonstrating that the Crime Laboratory management, personnel, quality system, operational and technical procedures, equipment and physical facilities meet established accreditation standards.
Why did you select UF to continue your forensic science studies?
I had been working in the field of forensics for approximately four years and had a desire to continue my education. However, my work obligations, along with raising a young family, prohibited me from pursuing an advanced degree through the traditional route. The University of Florida offered one of the first programs where working professionals could pursue a master’s degree through an online platform.
Which forensic science master’s degree specialty did you select and how did you develop an interest in the field?
I chose the forensic toxicology specialty. I was already working as a forensic toxicologist within a crime laboratory, and the coursework within the forensic toxicology specialty was [the] most applicable. A master’s in forensic toxicology would supplement my bachelor’s degree in chemistry while elevating my credibility as an expert in the field.
What was your favorite part of the program?
“My favorite part of the program was the flexibility it offered. The faculty understood that I, like many of the students in the program, [was] trying to balance coursework and [my] career and were always understanding when ‘life‘ got in the way of getting an assignment in on time.“
What was your favorite course and how do you apply the lessons to your current role?
My favorite course was General Toxicology because it provided me with a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental concepts of toxicology. I don’t directly apply those lessons with my current job, but [in] my previous position as manager of a toxicology unit, this course provided me the foundational understanding of toxicology to more effectively train new staff as well as do a better job at explaining complex concepts in courts of law.
How did your master’s degree help you achieve a managerial position?
In many organizations, the minimum requirement for a managerial position is a master’s degree or higher. So, in my case, the opportunity to become a manager and now director of the lab would not have been afforded to me.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about earning their master’s degree?
“My advice would be to stop procrastinating and apply. In the field of forensic science, an advanced degree will not only open doors to a multitude of career opportunities but will also elevate your credibility as an expert in the field.“
What time management strategies would you recommend for someone currently enrolled in the online program?
I would recommend creating a schedule at the beginning of each semester to ensure ample time to complete each assignment well before the due date. By following such a schedule, there is built-in time for those occasions where other obligations interfere, allowing assignments to be submitted on time.