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.
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.
- Forensic Science Education Requirements
- Forensic Science Degrees
- Highlighted Forensic Science Program Example
- Highest Paying Forensic Science Careers
- All Forensic Science Careers
- Forensic Science Salaries
Forensic Science Program Highlights / Examples
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
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
If 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
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|
|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|
|Examines financial records to look for criminal behavior.||+ Career Profile|
|Determine information about crimes by looking at human remains.||+ Career Profile|
|Produce artwork such as police sketches of suspects.||+ Career Profile|
|Examines DNA, blood, bodily fluids.||+ Career Profile|
|Chemical analysis of evidence.||+ Career Profile|
|Look at handwriting, printing, ink and other types of documents for evidence.||+ Career Profile|
|Look at physical evidence for signs of criminal activity.||+ Career Profile|
|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|
|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
Forensic Archaeologists Salary
Forensic Psychologists Salary
Medical Scientists Salary
Forensic Nurse Salary
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.