Forensic Investigator: Job Description & Salary

Learn more about the career of a forensic investigator, the educational requirements, and what skills you need to help law enforcement officials solve crimes. Schools offering Forensic Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career at a Glance

Forensic investigators collect and analyze evidence relevant to legal matters and criminal cases. Find out more details in the table below.

Degree Required Minimum of a bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Forensic science, chemistry, biology
Key Skills Knowledge of math and science, attention to detail, critical thinking and problem solving skills
Job Growth (2018-2028) 14%* (for forensic science technicians)
Median Annual Wage (2018) $58,230* (for forensic science technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Forensic Investigators Do?

Forensic investigators help to solve crimes, working in close collaboration with law enforcement officials and other forensics professionals. They collect evidence such as fingerprints, bodily fluids and human tissue, detail crime scenes using photographs or drawings, and analyze evidence in laboratories. They also prepare reports about their findings and may have to testify in court.

What Education Do I Need to Become a Forensic Investigator?

You need at least a bachelor's degree in forensic science or in a science-related field like biology or chemistry. Many investigators also complete a master's degree program in forensic science. Some master's programs allow students to specialize in areas like DNA analysis or toxicology.

What Additional Experience Do I Need?

To get a better idea of what this profession entails, you could apply for an internship program during the final semester of your degree. Once you secure a job, however, new forensic investigators typically shadow experienced professionals and receive lengthy on-the-job training in laboratory analysis procedures and other specifics before working alone. Forensic investigators also need to keep abreast of technical and scientific advances in the field, making this job one where continued learning is vital to success.

What Key Skills Do I Need?

Forensic investigators need to have great attention to detail as well as analytical skills, as they have to decide which evidence should be used to deduce information about an incident. These scientists also need to have strong communication skills. They need to collaborate with other professionals in the field, such as coroners and law enforcement professionals, and communicate their findings in reports and in court.

What Income and Job Growth Can I Expect?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies forensic investigators as forensic science technicians. The median salary for forensic science technicians in 2018 was $58,230, with income across all reported salaries ranging from below $34,600 to over $97,200. At 14%, job growth for forensic science technicians is much higher than the national average. Demand for these professionals is expected to grow, because advances in technology are making forensic evidence increasingly valuable during criminal trials.

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