Consider an Online Criminal Justice Program to Get Started with a Career in Forensics:
Lamar University

Lamar University has multiple 100% online Criminal Justice Programs, including an Online BS in Criminal Justice and an Online MS in Criminal Justice. Lamar University Online tailors the on-campus degree program to a flexible, affordable format for busy professionals.
Click for more admissions info.

Arkansas State University

The BA in Criminology at Arkansas State University is a 100% online program with affordable tuition that focuses its curriculum on developing an in-depth understanding of the big picture of crime and its social contexts, helping prepare you for a career in public service or criminal justice fields, including law enforcement.
Click here for more program information.

Top Forensic Science Career Guide

There are many different types of forensic science careers. A forensic science degree opens up doors beyond what most people think of when they see different TV shows or movies portraying a forensic science or criminal science investigation.

forensic-science-evidence

There are real-world examples and real people that work within forensic science, and more jobs are expected to be added by the year 2024 with an expected increase of 27%, higher than the national average, according the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

When considering a career in Forensic Science, it is extremely important to understand the education requirements and which forensic science degree areas you should consider. There are many options, and some may be better for a long-term and successful career. Use the following to navigate throughout the steps as a guide to a forensic science career.

  1. Forensic Science Education Requirements
  2. Forensic Science Degrees
  3. Highlighted Forensic Science Program Example
  4. Highest Paying Forensic Science Careers
  5. All Forensic Science Careers
  6. Forensic Science Salaries


Forensic Science Program Highlights / Examples

Bachelors in Forensic PsychologyMasters in Forensic Science

Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology

Faulkner University | Montgomery, AL

The Faulkner University Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology program is a campus-based program in Montgomery, Alabama. The focus for this undergraduate degree is to provide students with a core of knowledge, skills, and classes focused in psychology to prepare its future graduates to work within law enforcement, rehabilitation centers, the corrections system, as a counselor, and within the legal and criminal justice field in general.

As with nearly any undergraduate degree, there are general education requirements and you can view the full list of curriculum at Faulkner.edu. Below are some of the core Forensic Science specific classes within the Faulkner BS in Forensic Psychology program:

  • Lifespan Development – 3 credit hours
  • Behavioral Statistics – 3 credit hours
  • Behavioral Statistics Lab – 1 hour
  • Research Methods – 3 credit hours
  • Social Psychology – 3 credit hours
  • Conflict Management – 3 credit hours

  • Criminology – 3 credit hours
  • Interview and Interrogation – 3 credit hours
  • Criminal Behavior Analysis – 3 credit hours
  • Psychology of Religion and Spirituality – 3 credit hours
  • Psychological Assessment – 3 credit hours

  • Professional Ethics in Psychology – 3 credit hours
  • Internship – 3 credit hours
  • Capstone Research Project – 3 credit hours
  • Psychology Major Electives – 3 credit hours
  • Forensic Psychology Law Electives

M.S. Criminal Justice Forensic Science Specialization

Saint Leo University | Online

The Saint Leo University Online School of Education & Social Services offers an online M.S. in criminal justice with a forensic science specialization, with the focus on hands-on instruction so you can assist with criminal justice agency operations focused on forensic science. Class subjects include the history of forensic science and criminalistics, recognition, protection, documentation and collection of physical evidence, and crime scene investigation and management.

More info can be found on SaintLeo.edu.


Top 5 Highest Paying Forensic Science Careers

Below are just a few of the highest paid forensic science careers. Remember that money is never guaranteed, and it really depends on your location, your level of education, and your level of experience, among other more subjective matters such as how well you may fit in with a company or organization.

1. Forensic Medical Examiner

Forensic scientists working in the crime laboratory Perhaps the highest paying position in the field of forensic science is forensic medical examiner. The path to this occupation is much longer than most other roles in the field. That’s why the pay scale is significantly higher than others as well. To work as one, you much complete a 4-year bachelors, 4-year medical degree, plus complete residencies and passing your state’s requirements.

Salary can vary significantly from state-to-state, but earning close to $200,000 per year is not unheard of, and in some states, can be more. Medical examiners must have training as a physician and forensic pathologist to be successful in this role. Examiners help conclude the cause of death, when someone who seems healthy dies unexpectedly. To work in this role, you will likely have to become board certified, so speak with several schools before making any enrollment decisions.

2. Forensic Engineer

If you really want to reach the upper salary levels in forensics, look into becoming a forensic mechanical engineer or a forensic architectural engineer. When choosing an engineering program you will want to make sure you choose one that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Forensics engineers examine machines and structures to determine the cause of failure, foul play, and other criminal related actions. Those who work as forensic engineers can expect to earn a median wage of $83,580 per year. BLS.

3. Forensic Accountant

I’m sure when you think of the role of an accountant, you think of rushing to finish people’s taxes at the last minute, or working in a corporate or business environment. But many crimes involve money and complicated transactions meant to cover up illegal activity. This is where forensic accountants come in. The BLS states accountants and auditors, which includes forensic accountants, can earn a median wage of $67,190 per year, according to 2015 data (BLS).

There are many areas of specialization that forensic accountants can work in, including: breach of contract, post-acquisition disputes, bankruptcy, securities fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, helping businesses with valuation, and examining computers and information technology for crimes.

4. Crime Scene Investigator

forensic-footprintIf you want to work right at the scene of the crime and help piece together criminal acts, this role could be perfect for you. Crime scene investigators help examine areas where crimes have occurred, working with testimonial and physical evidence.

They can be accountable for collecting different types of evidence, including impressions, forensics, trace evidence, weapons, and interviews with victims and witnesses.

To become a crime scene investigator, or forensic science technician, you typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in a forensic science related area. In 2015, the average starting salary for this role was $56,320.

5. Crime Laboratory Analyst

DoD photo by Cpl. James P. Johnson, U.S. Army.  (Released)If you love science and want to work in criminal justice, you may want to become a crime laboratory analyst. In this role you would use knowledge and skills you learned in biochemistry and molecular biology to analyze evidence, such as firearms, blood, DNA, and other bodily fluids.

There are many degree programs available that help students work in internship roles as they complete their bachelor’s degree. To qualify for this role, you will want to compare degree programs in forensic science, microbiology, and biochemistry. The pay scale for this occupation falls under the same category in the BLS as Crime Scene Investigators.


All Types of Forensic Science Career Options

Forensic science has plenty of specific career options, and specialized degree programs for students to choose from. Areas of study that encompass forensic science career options include: archaeology, geology, pathology, psychology, toxicology, accounting, and others.

Additionally, graduates of forensic science degree programs can work in several types of job settings, including: local, regional, state, and federal labs and agencies. Hospitals, branches of the military, police departments, and private companies all employ graduates of forensic science programs.

Complete list of Forensic Science Career Options

FORENSIC CAREER WHAT DO THEY DO? PROFILE PAGE

Arson Investigator

Investigates cases of arson and explosion analysis. + Career Profile

Computer forensic investigator

Searches computers for evidence of wrongdoing. + Career Profile

Crime scene photographer

Takes photos of crime scenes to preserve evidence. + Career Profile

Forensic accountant

Examines financial records to look for criminal behavior. + Career Profile

Forensic anthropologist

Determine information about crimes by looking at human remains. + Career Profile

Forensic artists

Produce artwork such as police sketches of suspects. + Career Profile

Forensic biologists

Examines DNA, blood, bodily fluids. + Career Profile

Forensic chemist

Chemical analysis of evidence. + Career Profile

Document examiners

Look at handwriting, printing, ink and other types of documents for evidence. + Career Profile

Forensic Engineers

Look at physical evidence for signs of criminal activity. + Career Profile

Forensic nurses

Help victims of assault and other crimes. + Career Profile

Pathologists and coroners

Perform autopsies to determine cause of death. + Career Profile

Forensic social workers

Help people whose lives are wrapped up in the legal system. + Career Profile

Toxicologists

Study bodily fluids to look for evidence that toxic substances may have affected a crime. + Career Profile

Forensic Science Salary

As you can see from the 5 top paying jobs in forensic science, salaries in forensic science can vary greatly, and depend on your level of education and role you pursue. Here is a breakdown of a variety of common forensic science salary ranges, from the BLS:

Forensic Science Technician Salary

A common career path that requires a bachelor’s degree and can pay a median wage of $56,320 per year.
Average Salary: $56,320
Recommended Area of Study: Forensic Science, Bachelors in Forensic Science
BLS

Forensic Archaeologists Salary

Those who work in this area can expect to earn a median wage of $61,220 per year.
Average Salary: $61,220
Recommended Area of Study: Forensic Anthropology
BLS

Forensic Psychologists Salary

A critical area in forensics, this profession can pay a median wage of $72,580 per year.
Average Salary: $72,580
Recommended Area of Study: Forensic Psychology
BLS

Medical Scientists Salary

If you want to work as a medical scientist in the field of forensics, you can earn a median wage of $82,240 per year.
Average Salary: $82,240
Recommended Area of Study: Forensic Medicine
BLS

Forensic Nurse Salary

Nurses who work in forensics can earn the same average wage as hospital nurses, which was $71,000, according to 2015 data.
Average Salary: $71,000
Recommended Area of Study: Forensic Nursing
BLS

If you want to find out which path in the field of forensic science is right for you, and what you can expect to earn as a professional in your area, you will need to contact schools in your area and start asking questions. You’ll want to know what programs they offer, what career outcomes they prepare you for, and what the employment outlook is like for graduates in your area.