How to Begin a Professional Career as a Forensic Scientist

How to Begin a Professional Career as a Forensic Scientist

Forensic Scientists: A Quick Look
Median Salary$52,840 per annum
Entry-level educationBachelor’s degree
On-the-job trainingNo
Primary employersForensic Laboratories, Police Departments
Number of positions (U.S.)12,900
Job Growth (2012-2022)6% (Much slower than national average)
New positions (2012-2022)700

What Does A Forensic Scientist Do?

Forensic scientists bring scientific knowledge and methods to bear on criminal investigations and legal puzzles. They work as general criminalist technicians and analysts, chemists, biologists, document and toolmark examiners, serologists, educators, and more. Read more.


The U.S. government estimated the average salary in 2012 for a forensic science technician was $52,840 a year. Read more.

Becoming A Forensic Scientist

Any forensic scientist that works in a lab and handles biohazardous substances will need a postsecondary degree, preferably in the intended lab specialty. Many forensic biologists, for instance, earn an undergraduate degree in biology. Read more.

Job Outlook

The BLS estimates forensic science jobs will grow by only 6% percent over the next seven years. The actual number of jobs will depend on the availability of local and state government funding. Read more.

Forensic Scientist Salary Forensic scientist salary earnings vary widely by specialty and employer. In 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, found the average yearly salary for a forensic science technician was $52,840. New lab technicians often begin as ‘bench scientists’ and gradually work their way up to the forensic laboratory director's position. Educated, entry-level technicians earn around $40,000 a year, whereas top level supervisor scientists are paid as much as $100,000 a year. At the top of the pay scale are forensic pathologists qualified at the doctoral level. Pathologists and medical examiners may earn up to $200,000 a year. In general, the best compensation can be found in federal jobs.

Job Outlook Forensic science jobs are expected to increase by about 6 percent between now and 2022. That rate is far below the national average of growth for all occupations (11%). The government says there were 12,900 technician jobs in 2012; by 2022, that number should rise by about 700 new jobs. Employment opportunities will slowly increase as advanced forensic techniques and technologies become more common in criminal justice settings. However, increased technology may begin to subsidize some of the work of traditional Forensic Scientists. This decline in work responsibility will lead to less demand for employees at this position. Most forensic scientists are public sector workers. As a result, the number of available job openings tends to fluctuate with the funding of the public agency and its laboratory.


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Posted in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Legal, Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice

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