What Is the Salary of a Forensic Scientist?

Forensic scientists use science to uncover facts for legal cases. Read on to find out about forensic science and what you can earn in this career field. Schools offering Forensic Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Duties

As a forensic scientist or a forensic science technician, you would work in the justice system to help uncover facts using scientific methods and laboratory techniques. Your job may be to sample evidence from a crime scene or to compare DNA samples to establish a suspect's guilt or innocence. You may be called to testify to reveal your scientific findings in court. If you go into the forensic science field, your salary will depend on the amount of education you complete, your employer and your experience.

Important Facts about Forensic Scientists

Required Education Bachelor's degree is generally required. Recommended concentration in the natural sciences, such as chemistry or biology.
On-the-Job Training Experienced technicians teach laboratory specialties, as well as proper procedures and methods for collecting and documenting evidence
Key Skills Communication skills, math and science, critical thinking, composure
Licensure Certifications and licenses are not typically necessary

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most forensic scientists work for the government. State and local government agencies have been increasing the use of forensic science technology to prevent or solve crimes (www.bls.gov). The BLS predicted job opportunities for forensic science technicians would increase by 6% from 2012-2022. However, budgets in government and law enforcement may affect job openings.

Salary Overview

As of May 2014, the BLS reported that the median salary for forensic science technicians was $55,360 annually, and the average salary was $58,610. The lowest-paid 10% of workers, including entry-level positions, was reported to earn $33,610 or lower annually. The highest-paid 10% reportedly earned $91,400 or more annually. These figures were derived from reported wages of 13,570 forensic science technicians in the United States.

Salaries by Location

The BLS reported in May 2014 that California had the highest concentration of forensic science technicians of all states, and its mean salary was $74,880. The state of Florida came in second and Texas was third, with the mean wages for these locations being $47,180 and $47,680, respectively.

For metropolitan areas, BLS reported that Phoenix, Arizona, had the highest concentration of forensic science technicians and had a mean wage of $56,370. The District of Columbia metropolitan area had the second highest concentration and a mean wage of $74,150.

Illinois paid the highest salaries by state, showing a mean annual salary of $82,210. The District of Columbia came in second with the average salary of $78,090 annually, and California came in third at $74,880.

Salaries by Industry

According to the BLS, those working in the federal executive branch of government made the highest wages in May 2014, at an average of $96,680. Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services had the second highest mean wage of $65,640. The highest employment levels were in local and state government, and the mean wages for these industries were $57,800 and $58,880, respectively.

Salaries by Experience

PayScale.com reported in September 2015 that forensic scientists with less than a year of experience made a median salary of $49,000. Those with 4-10 years of experience made on average $56,000. Salaries average $66,000 for those with 10-20 years of experience and $72,000 for those with more than 20 years of experience.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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