Key Salary and Employment Facts

Are you interested in a career that combines science and investigation? Consider becoming a forensic scientist! While many different television shows have sensationalized this profession, the reality of this career is still exciting, since no two cases will be the same. The most prominent difference between the television shows and reality is that initially you will spend more time focusing on the behind-the-scenes lab work of the investigations, rather than participating in the field at the actual crime scenes.

In this field, you choose from several different kinds of specialties, including toxicology, ballistics, or behavioral science. In some cases you can get started working with just a two-year associate’s degree, although many of the highest paying jobs do require a four-year degree. How much can you expect to earn in the forensic science field? Let’s take a look at the average salaries available for jobs in forensic science. Use the jump links below to navigate the page quickly:

Forensic Science Salary by Job

The job you choose within forensic science plays a large role in the salary you’ll receive. Here are some of the most common positions available, along with median salary rates:

Factors that Affect Your Salary in Forensic Science

The exact amount you can expect to earn as a forensic science worker depends on a number of factors these include:

  • Your location
  • Working for a privatized lab or government facility
  • The size of the facility where you work
  • Your experience in the field
  • The level of education you’ve completed
  • If you have any certifications
  • Whether or not you work in a leadership position

Salary by Location

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014, California was the state with not only the highest total number of forensic science technician jobs, but had the third highest mean annual salary as well. Other states with high employment levels are Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Maryland. The highest paying states in the country are:

  1. Illinois, $82,210
  2. District of Columbia, $78,090
  3. California, $74,880
  4. Nevada, $70,300
  5. Massachusetts, $69,040

As expected, the cities with the highest mean annual salary are in these states, with the top five cities being San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago, and Santa Ana. However, employment levels are spread throughout the country. As the higher populations necessarily have more crime, there will always be the need for forensic scientists in major cities. The cities with the highest employment levels in the field are Phoenix, Washington DC, Los Angeles, New York City, and Tampa.

The type of industry you are in will also affect your salary and job availability. Not surprisingly, local government is the industry with the highest level of forensic science employment. Other high employment industries include state government, medical and diagnostic laboratories, architectural and engineering related services, and management, scientific, and technical consulting services. While the mean salary across all fields is approximately $61,317, working for the federal government has the highest mean annual salary wage at $96,680. The top five paying industries are:

  1. Federal Executive Branch, $96,680
  2. Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services, $65,640
  3. State Government, $58,880
  4. Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories, $57,970
  5. Local Government, $57,800

The Forensic Science Field

Interest in forensic science jobs is growing, namely because of the prominence of television shows like Law and Order, CSI, and Criminal Minds. They have raised awareness of the field and its occupations to a large number of people. Additionally, many people decided to go back to school as a result of the recent economic downturn. This has definitely influenced the increased number of forensic science graduates.

If you want to pursue this career, it is beneficial to apply hard work and diligence while in school. This will help ensure that you are afforded the opportunity to be employed upon graduation. Another way to secure a job and boost your potential starting salary, is to secure the best possible internships while still in school. Working in the field of forensic science is incredibly rewarding because you are able to help others and instill of sense of justice into communities.

In order to work in forensic science or criminal justice, you’ll need to obtain a degree related to the field. Our list of schools will help you find the right program that meets your specific career goals.

Kaplan University
Kaplan University

  • HLC
  • NCA
Liberty University
Liberty University

  • SACS
Ashford University
Ashford University

  • WASC
Saint Joseph’s University
Saint Joseph’s University

  • MSA

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