12 Popular Forensic Science Jobs (With Average Salaries)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated December 3, 2022

Published October 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are many job opportunities related to forensic science. The industry is incredibly vast because it can cross over into multiple fields, such as medicine, science, and law. Before you decide to pursue a career in forensic science, it can be helpful to explore the variety of jobs available to you to see if any suit your interests and career goals. In this article, we explore the meaning of forensic science jobs, review what the role of a forensic scientist involves, discover 12 popular forensic science occupations, and learn about frequently asked questions related to the role.

Related: 20 Popular Careers in Health Science to Consider

What are forensic science jobs?

Forensic science jobs are careers within the mixed field of science and criminal law. The various job opportunities come with a variety of different educational prerequisites that can range anywhere from a high school diploma to a full doctorate degree. The primary focus of forensic science is to reveal evidence through tests and investigations. A few examples of subjects involved in the forensic industry are biology, criminology, physics, and chemistry.

Related: 15 Science Degree Jobs (With Salaries and Duties)

What does a forensic scientist do?

Here is a list of tasks someone in forensic science may perform on a daily basis:

  • collecting evidence from crime scenes

  • analyzing evidence to formulate possible conclusions about a crime

  • assisting in civil court cases

  • preserving specimens

  • cataloging medical data

  • evaluating the characteristics of collected samples

Related: 22 In-Demand Careers in Science

12 popular forensic science jobs

Here are 12 examples of popular jobs in this field, with their relevant duties and approximate salaries:

1. Forensic investigator

National average salary: $104,143 per year

Primary duties: A forensic investigator assists in solving crimes by working closely with criminal investigators and law enforcement. To aid in investigations, a forensic investigator collects and analyzes evidence such as bodily fluids, human tissue, fingerprints, and crime scene photos. Forensic investigators can spend their days in crime labs working with various forms of laboratory equipment and software, but a large part of their job also involves travelling to crime scenes to collect forensic samples.

2. Forensic technician

National average salary: $38.59 per hour

Primary duties: A forensic technician helps criminal investigations by specializing in either crime scene investigation or laboratory analysis. An important part of their job is safeguarding evidence after collection, as each piece of evidence has the potential to greatly impact an ongoing investigation. Forensic technicians explore the links between suspects and their criminal activity using DNA analysis. Their work is often extremely significant in solving criminal cases.

3. Forensic analyst

National average salary: $44.99 per hour

Primary duties: A forensic analyst documents, reports, and secures findings from tests conducted on evidence. They may also appear in court as an expert witness or a forensics expert, depending on their amount of experience in the industry. Forensic analysts work on forensic data and require a great amount of patience and attention to detail to ensure they produce accurate results.

4. Pathologist assistant

National average salary: $40.35 per hour

Primary duties: A pathologist assistant works with bodies and body parts through activities such as performing post-mortem examinations, photographing the body and the individual organs, and taking tissue samples. A pathologist assistant, also known as a PA, is a highly trained professional who works under the supervision of a medically certified pathologist. Another part of the job includes dissecting and examining body parts that were removed during surgery.

Related: How to Become a Pathologist Assistant (With Skills and FAQs)

5. Evidence technician

National average salary: $38.73 per hour

Primary duties: There are a lot of administrative tasks involved in being an evidence technician. A few examples are preparing reports, processing evidence, presenting findings, and safeguarding evidence. An evidence technician is responsible for maintaining laboratory equipment, organizing supplies, and sustaining chemicals. Part of the job can also be training the other staff members in daily procedures for the role, such as how to collect evidence samples and how to process the samples after retrieval.

Related: How You Can Become a Crime Scene Photographer in 6 Steps

6. Forensic accountant

National average salary: $53,309 per year

Primary duties: A forensic accountant reviews claims of bribery, embezzlement, money laundering, and fraud. They carry out these assignments by analyzing transactions, reviewing financial records, and tracing assets. Whether the accountant is investigating a criminal or civil case, their main task is to monitor money spending and transfers and present their findings in a court of law.

7. Forensic manager

National average salary: $36.92 per hour

Primary duties: A forensic manager works within a forensics and evidence team to oversee and supervise their fellow forensic scientists and criminologists. They use strong interpersonal skills and attention to detail to ensure that their team is performing their work to the highest standards. Part of supervising the staff includes mentoring, challenging, and coaching each member to improve their abilities and increase workplace efficiency.

8. Crime scene technician

National average salary: $27.39 per hour

Primary duties: A crime scene technician aids in criminal investigations by creating crime scene sketches, collecting weapon evidence, collecting bodily fluids, taking crime scene photos, and cataloging all the evidence into organized lists. A critical part of the job is determining which items are relevant to the case when they're canvassing a crime scene. After they have established the items that are considered evidence, they're responsible for ensuring the proper bagging of pieces and safe transport to the lab.

9. Computer forensic analyst

National average salary: $36.72 per hour

Primary duties: A computer forensic analyst recovers information that is stored on computers and a variety of other storage devices. This role often requires assisting law enforcement with cyber crimes. Being a computer forensic analyst involves working with high-tech software and equipment regularly and having substantial knowledge of how to quickly and efficiently interact with the technology.

Related: What Is Digital Forensics? (With Advantages and Challenges)

10. Forensic scientist

National average salary: $31.52 per hour

Primary duties: A forensic scientist works in a crime lab to help collect and evaluate evidence for various crime scenes and investigations. They use a great deal of objectivity and critical thinking, as their job requires high accuracy for making the right deductions. Forensic scientists interact with crime scene investigators to establish if the evidence they found matches any suspects in their case.

Related: How To Become a Forensic Scientist in 6 Steps

11. Blood specialist

National average salary: $42.70 per hour

Primary duties: A blood specialist tests, diagnoses, and treats patients. Vital parts of the job are uncovering diseases, drawing blood, doing bone marrow procedures, and working with patients with blood-clotting disorders. Blood specialists interact with sick and potentially sick people regularly, which can make having strong interpersonal skills important for the role.

12. Laboratory technician

National average salary: $24.23 per hour

Primary duties: A laboratory technician uses special equipment to monitor and conduct a variety of tests on samples. They regularly analyze fluids, search for transfusion blood matches, and perform drug tests. Laboratory technicians work with a multitude of data in relation to civil and criminal cases and can impact investigations greatly with the information they find.

Frequently asked questions about forensic science careers

Here are several common questions about this field of forensic science:

What skills does a forensic scientist need?

While each role related to forensic science differs, there are a few skills that are necessary for most roles throughout the industry:

  • strong interpersonal skills

  • attention to detail

  • organizational skills

  • objectivity

  • critical thinking

  • analytical thinking

  • good oral and written communication skills

  • technologically advanced

  • knowledge of the law

Forensic science can be a challenging subject, but it can also be a very rewarding career path. While it's not required that you possess all or any of the skills listed above, they can help excel in the field of forensic science.

Related: Key Differences: Analytical Thinking vs. Critical Thinking

How can you advance in this field?

Advancing in forensic science may mean taking on new managerial roles and responsibilities. You can also progress in your career by working to uncover medical and scientific advances in the industry. This allows you the opportunity to publish articles and contribute to the future generation of forensic scientists. You can also consider pursuing a role in teaching. Becoming a teacher at a college or university is a great way to train future scientists and criminologists.

Related: Responsibilities of a Forensic Toxicologist (Plus Skills)

What are the benefits of working in forensics?

There can be a variety of benefits to working in forensics, including full dental care, health care packages, and life insurance. There can also be various personal benefits to working in forensics. You may have the opportunity to help solve crimes, have involvement in scientific advancement, and contribute your knowledge and skills as you learn, increasing the likelihood that you have fulfillment in your career.

How long does it take to pursue a career in forensic science?

It can take as long as four to six years to pursue a career in forensic science. The amount of time depends on the education and training that is required for the role. Each role, field, and institution typically has different requirements for employees.

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