Forensic Science is a broad category, with salaries ranging from around $50,000 per year to over $200,000 per year depending on your level of education and your employer. Here are the top five highest-paying forensic science jobs as well as the amount of education required to get them.
#5: Forensic Accounting (also known as Forensic Auditing and Investigative Auditing)
One of the fastest growing and most popular jobs for those with forensic degrees is forensic accounting. Forensic Accountants have two primary specialized functions: they do investigative accounting and provide support during litigation. You may be called upon to thoroughly investigate the books of a company for example, then generate a report and testify during a trial. Forensic Accountants can be employed by law enforcement, private companies or even the government. The majority of them however, are employed by CPA firms which constitute the bulk of the new employment hiring right now.
Average salary for a forensic accountant: $63,000
Job Outlook: 11% growth projected through 2024 (the growth average for all occupations is 7%).
Education Required: You’ll need a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Accounting or a related degree like a general Accounting Degree. You’ll also need to obtain your Certified Financial Forensics Accreditation.
#4: Forensic Psychology
Before a defendant can claim insanity as an excuse for their crimes, they first have to visit a forensic psychologist and undergo a battery of tests. As a forensic psychologist you would be responsible for administering those tests, generating a report to be used in the trial, and often, for testifying in court and offering your expert opinion. Many forensic psychologists also practice psychology in other areas too, and include forensic evaluations as a part of their larger practice.
Average salary for a Forensic Psychologist: $72,000 (though if you own your own practice the number could be much larger depending on your client base.)
Job Outlook: 20% growth through 2024, far faster than the 7% average
Education Required: The most successful forensic psychologists hold their PhD or PsyD. It is usually necessary (or at least preferred) for those wishing to offer expert testimony in court to hold their doctorate.
#3: Forensic Engineer (Mechanical or Architectural)
Forensic Engineers investigate cases involving structural failures (Forensic Architects) or product failures (Forensic Mechanics). If a seat belt latch in a specific model of car failed for example, a forensic mechanic would be called upon to isolate why it failed, and they may participate in a court case requiring expert testimony if the failure resulted in death or injury because of the faulty product. In the case of a Forensic Architect they may be asked to evaluate the structural failure of a building, and could also offer expert testimony in any resulting court case.
Average Salary for a Forensic Engineer: $80,000
Job Outlook: 4% growth through 2024 (lower than average).
Education Required: A Bachelor’s degree in Engineering is the first step, followed by additional accreditation in your specialty area. Once you have obtained your engineering license you can specialize in forensics and become certified through the International Institute of Forensic Engineering Sciences.
#2: Forensic Attorney
Attorneys who specialize in forensics are the superheroes of the law field. They can conduct their own investigations based on scientific evaluations of evidence and use that information to help prosecute offenders or represent their clients in a way that regular attorneys cannot.
Average Salary for a Forensic Attorney: $131,000
Job Outlook: 6% growth through 2024, slightly lower than average.
Education Required: In order to work as a Forensic Attorney you would need to get your Juris Doctor (J.D.) and pass the bar exam in order to be licensed.
#1: Forensic Medical Examiner
Forensic Medical Examiners do post-mortems to determine the cause of death. They may also look at crime scene evidence found on the body (things like gunpowder residue or bodily fluids). Then, they report their findings and will often testify in court as experts.
Average Salary for a Forensic Medical Examiner: $174,000
Job Outlook: a staggering 24% through 2020.
Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree, then attend medical school to obtain your M.D. or D.O. After that, Forensic Medical Examiners put in four years of training in Forensic Pathology and a year long residency in order to obtain their license to practice.