25 Popular Forensic Science Careers To Investigate
Updated August 2, 2023
A woman is holding papers and standing next to a table with science equipment and a plant on it. There is a list titled "Popular Forensic Science Jobs," and these occupations:
• Forensic investigator
• Forensic technician
• Forensic analyst
• Pathologist assistant
• Evidence technician
• Forensic accountant
• Forensic manager
• Crime scene technician
• Computer forensic analyst
• Forensic scientist
• Blood specialist
• Laboratory technician
If you have a keen interest in crime-solving and attention to detail, a career in the forensic science field may be a good fit. This industry is a cross between the medical and legal sectors and plays an important role in everything from solving serious crimes to supporting the legal system in the courts. Careers in forensic science vary widely and require education and experience that ranges from a high school diploma to a doctorate.
In this article, we define what forensic science is and explore 25 popular forensic science careers as well as their job duties and average salaries.
What is forensic science?
Forensic science is the application of scientific methods and processes in various legal and criminal-related settings. It is most commonly used in criminal investigations as well as in criminal convictions. The primary focus of forensic science is to uncover physical evidence through recognition, identification, testing and evaluation. It relies on various forms of science, including chemistry, biology and physics, to analyze and interpret criminal-related data.
Forensic science may be applied to:
Collecting evidence from crime scenes
Preserving and cataloging specimens to be analyzed
Interpreting criminal data
Assisting in criminal or civil court cases
Determining the cause of a crime
Analyzing evidence and using it to formulate hypotheses regarding a crime
10 common forensic science jobs
Here are 10 careers you can pursue within the forensic science field. For the most up-to-date salaries, click on the links below.
National average salary: $41,752 per year
Primary duties: These professionals study and evaluate fingerprints in criminal investigations. They work in crime labs and crime scenes. Fingerprint technicians process and preserve fingerprint samples, analyze fingerprints and load fingerprint images into fingerprint databases for comparison.
Requirements: A bachelor's degree in forensic science or a related field is typically required.
National average salary: $48,838 per year
Primary duties: Evidence technicians are responsible for collecting evidence at crime scenes, processing the evidence and transporting the evidence to storage locations.
Requirements: Most evidence technician jobs require a degree in criminal justice or a related field. Some positions may allow individuals to hold an entry-level evidence technician job with previous experience and on-the-job training.
Related: How To Become an Evidence Technician
National average salary: $49,103 per year
Primary duties: Forensic science technicians work at crime scene investigations and are responsible for gathering and analyzing evidence. They may take photos and keep written records of crime scene evidence. These professionals most commonly work for crime labs, police departments and medical examiner offices.
Requirements: A minimum of a bachelor's degree in forensic science is typically required for this position.
National average salary: $57,750 per year
Primary duties: Forensic specialists assess physical evidence from a crime scene using various methods of analysis, including chemical, instrumental and microscopic methods. They may work with biological fluids, drugs, blood, gunshot residue and other materials found at a crime scene. They may serve as expert witnesses in court cases and conduct research related to new forensic equipment and technology.
Requirements: A minimum of a bachelor's degree in forensic science, chemistry, biology or a related field is required. Several years of experience working in a forensic science lab is often needed to obtain a job as a forensic specialist.
National average salary: $63,494 per year
Primary duties: A forensics manager is a professional who oversees the activities that support criminal investigations. They may plan, direct and coordinate various activities related to forensic science within a crime lab or other forensics organization.
Requirements: A minimum of a bachelor's degree in forensic science or a related field is required.
National average salary: $71,799 per year
Primary duties: Forensic investigators are responsible for investigating evidence found at a crime scene. They may take photos of the crime scene, collect samples and examine evidence in a lab. They then use the evidence to make assumptions regarding the details of the crime.
Requirements: This position requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, forensic science or a related field.
National average salary: $79,369 per year
Primary duties: Forensic accountants are experts in financial crime and work to uncover fraud and protect bank accounts against fraudulent activity. They examine financial records and accounts that may be used as evidence. They may also assist in court to determine damages and awards for cases.
Requirements: A minimum of a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting or a related field is required.
Related: Learn About Being an Accountant
National average salary: $89,515 per year
Primary duties: These professionals are tasked with investigating structures that have failed or do not function properly. They commonly analyze structures that have resulted in personal injury or property damage and determine the cause. Forensic engineers may use their findings in criminal and civil law cases to support the evidence presented.
Requirements: A minimum of a bachelor's degree in engineering is required to become a forensic engineer.
National average salary: $120,710 per year
Primary duties: Forensic psychologists perform several duties within the legal system, including performing psychological assessments of criminals, witnesses and defendants in legal proceedings and acting as expert witnesses in court cases. They may also devise treatment plans and intervention methods for prison inmates and make recommendations for inmates' parole. These professionals typically work for community health centers, psychiatric hospitals, government agencies and correctional facilities.
Requirements: Forensic psychologists must hold a minimum of a master's degree in forensic psychology. Many of these professionals also hold certification from the American Board of Forensic Psychology.
Related: 15 Top Psychology Degree Jobs
National average salary: $143,759 per year
Primary duties: These professionals are responsible for conducting autopsies on bodies to determine the cause of death. They may assist in the investigation of crimes like murders and evaluate the findings of autopsies.
Requirements: A forensic pathologist must complete a medical school program as well as three to five years of residency training in general pathology.
Related: How To Become a Forensic Pathologist
Forensic science offers a variety of specialty professions. Here are some others to consider:
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