If you enjoy researching, solving mysteries, and studying things in a lab, you should consider a career in forensics.
Forensics encompasses many fields, including psychology, accounting, and science.
1. Forensic Medical Examiner
Forensic medical examiners are typically the highest-paid forensic jobs, making about $100,000 a year.
However, rates vary from $70,000 a year to $200,000 or more.
To become a forensic medical examiner, you’ll need to become a licensed physician.
This requires getting a bachelor’s degree, completing medical school, a residency in anatomic pathology, and a fellowship in forensic pathology.
Then, you’ll need to pass the board examinations.
- Conduct autopsies
- Collect samples
- Testify in legal proceedings
- Collect evidence, including DNA and toxicology
- Research the medical history of the victim
2. Forensic Engineer
The average salary for a forensic engineer is $89,671. The average salary ranges from $76,599 to $104,557.
Forensic engineers focus on problems in structural and mechanical engineering.
They use engineering principles to determine the cause of the problem and potential solutions.
They can work with manufacturers and law enforcement.
Becoming a forensic engineer requires a Bachelor’s degree.
However, some organizations prefer that you have a Master’s or Ph.D.
You will also need to earn your Professional Engineering license to be eligible for top-paying positions.
- Examining products or structures that fail
- Identifying design flaws
- Collecting and analyzing evidence
- Creating a plan for failure prevention
3. Forensic Accountant
As a forensic accountant, you can expect to make an average of $76,400.
The average range is $67,948 and $86,362.
Forensic accounting is a branch of general accounting.
Forensic accountants specialize in investigating and tracking money to understand a situation.
To become a forensic accountant, you’ll need a bachelor’s or Master’s degree.
This degree can be in accounting, forensic accounting, or finance.
Job duties include:
- Investigating bookkeeping fraud
- Inspecting contracts for legal, ethical, and regulatory soundness
- Insurance claims investigation
- Collecting financial information for legal disputes
- Testifying about findings in court
- Identifying documents and practices at risk of fraud
4. Forensic Science Technician
The typical salary for a forensic science technician is $63,740, with average salaries ranging between $56,454 and $74,142.
If you are considering a career in crime scene investigation, you may want to be a forensic science technician.
These technicians typically work as crime scene investigators or laboratory technicians.
This means you will either collect evidence from the crime scene or analyze the evidence once it’s collected.
To become a forensic science technician, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree.
This degree can be a natural science like biology, or forensic science.
Some states require you to take an exam or be certified before beginning your career.
You’ll likely need to complete an internship to get on-the-job training as well.
Job duties will vary based on whether you visit crime scenes or process evidence.
You can also specialize in an area like ballistics, fingerprints, biological analysis, or handwriting.
Job duties include:
- Visiting and assessing crime scenes
- Collecting physical evidence
- Documenting the scene
- Analyzing collected evidence’
- Comparing impressions
- Analyzing weapons
- DNA analysis
- Preparing reports and testifying in court
5. Forensic Nurses
Surprisingly, forensic nurses typically make less than other RNs.
The average salary for RNs is $77,600.
This is usually because they are employed in the private sector or public agencies that pay less than most healthcare facilities.
To become a forensic nurse, you’ll start out by becoming an RN, or registered nurse.
The first step to accomplishing this is getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Then, you’ll take the RN licensing exam.
Most employers require you to have a certain amount of clinical experience before being hired as a forensic nurse.
You can also take a forensic nursing certificate program.
- Gathering medical evidence
- Giving testimony in court
- Performing medical forensic exams
- Documenting and photographing injuries
- Processing forensic evidence
- Examining victims of crime and sexual assault
6. Forensic Artists
The average salary for a forensic artist is $61,029.
Salary typically ranges from $16,000 to $131,500.
Becoming a forensic artist requires some education.
Generally, you’ll want to begin with an Associate or Bachelor’s degree in art discipline.
Then, you can get specialized training with the International Association of Identification, or IAI.
IAI also offers certification, which requires at least 2 years of experience as a forensic artist.
If you live in a larger city, you may find a steady position as a forensic artist.
If you live in a rural area, you may want to apply with federal or state agencies, because your services may not be needed often on the local level.
Forensic artists are often known as sketch artists.
They create drawings of suspects and victims based on witness or victim reports.
They can also create reconstructions or age progression.
- Interviewing victims or witnesses
- Creating sketches of potential suspects
- Recreating images from skeletons, mutilated, or decomposed subjects
- Using computer imagery to create sketches
- Creating age progression sketches of victims or suspects by hand or computer
- Using surveillance photos or video to create sketches
7. Forensic Social Worker
Forensic social workers earn an average of $90,000 a year.
The average ranges from $83,437 to $210,137, with some making more than $400,000.
Surprisingly, Regular social workers make an average of $64,220, with salaries ranging from $57,549 to $71,619.
Becoming a forensic social worker begins with earning a Master’s degree in social work, also known as an MSW.
Generally, you’ll earn your Bachelor’s in Social Work, and then take the MSW program.
Some MSW programs allow you to specialize in forensic social work.
You may also want to take classes in criminal justice.
Most social worker positions require you to be licensed by your state.
You must have a Master’s or Doctorate in Social Work to get this credential.
As a forensic social worker, you may work with law enforcement personnel or people involved in the legal system.
This can include working with incarcerated individuals and interviewing or treating victims of crime.
Job duties include:
- Working with criminal and juvenile populations, including diagnosis and treatment
- Making diagnoses and recommendations about children’s interests
- Determining mental capacity and ability to testify in court
- Being an expert witness
- Evaluating, treating, and screening law enforcement and criminal justice employees
8. Forensic Psychologist
The average salary for a forensic psychologist is $106,420.
Those who work for scientific and technical consulting companies make an average of $109,690.
Those who are employed in federal, state, and local governments earn more, than $113,150 on average.
Becoming a forensic psychologist generally has the same requirements as other psychology fields.
To work in a clinical setting as a psychologist, which means working directly with patients, you will need a PhD.
You’ll begin with a Bachelor’s degree, which takes about 4 years.
Then, you’ll get your Masters, which takes another 2 years.
You’ll spend two to four more years to get your Ph.D.
With your Masters, you can work as a parole or probation officer, a therapist in a mental health or drug rehab program, or in a correctional facility as a therapist or a case manager.
With a Ph.D., you can complete competency evaluations for courts, work as a forensic clinical psychologist, perform custody evaluations, and work in correctional facilities as a psychologist or administrator.
Job duties include:
- Performing threat assessments for schools
- Child custody evaluations
- Counseling victims of crime
- Competency evaluations for criminal defendants and elderly
- Screening law enforcement applicants
- Treating juveniles and adults in the corrections system
9. Forensic Chemist
Forensic chemists make an average of $63,078.
Salaries usually range from $56,066 to $71,199.
Forensic chemists typically work with law enforcement.
They may go to crime scenes, or work in a crime scene laboratory.
They may analyze DNA evidence, and identify materials found at the crime scene.
They also identify drugs and toxic substances.
Part of their job is explaining their findings in a way that the layperson, like a juror, can understand.
They are often called experts in court proceedings for this reason.
To become a forensic chemist, you can begin by earning a chemistry Bachelor’s degree.
You may also choose to take a forensic chemistry program accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC).
Another option is to earn a Bachelor’s in Chemistry, and then get a Master’s in Forensic Chemistry.
Job duties include:
- Analyzing evidence from crime scenes
- Processing DNA evidence
- Gathering evidence from crime scenes
- Identifying chemical substances, including drugs and toxins
- Explaining results and conclusions in an easy-to-understand manner
- Appearing as an expert witness in court
10. Forensic Anthropologist
A forensic anthropologist makes an average of $61,910 per year.
Those who work for the government as specialists earn more, about $80,900 per year.
Forensic anthropologists who are employed in management, science, or technical consulting positions earn less, at an average of $60,540 per year.
Forensic anthropology is a specialty within physical anthropology, which is the study of human remains.
Forensic anthropologists study human remains to help solve crimes.
When authorities find a body that has been deceased or buried for a long period, they contact a forensic anthropologist.
The anthropologist will study the remains and the scene to determine who died, how they died, and when they died.
This can tell police if the scene indicates a murder or natural death, and identify the remains.
Job duties include:
- Photographing the scene and remains
- Documenting the position of each bone
- Performing DNA analysis
- Chemical analysis to determine diet and age
- Facial reconstruction using skull for identification
- Comparing remains to learn more about the past
5 Tips for Those Looking for a Job in Forensics
1. Choose the Right Career for You
Be sure to choose a forensics career that you will enjoy and one that pays well.
You’ll need to weigh the importance of these factors and decide which is most important to you.
Take your time, your decision will affect the rest of your life.
2. Get Hands-On Experience
For a career in forensics, you’ll need to get hands-on experience.
You can do this by doing an internship.
If you can’t find a paid internship, consider working as a volunteer.
The experience that you gain is well worth it.
3. Get Your Education
Of course, you’ll need a strong educational foundation for a career in forensics.
You may choose to get a bachelor’s degree or a Masters.
Specializing in forensics can help you land higher-paying jobs, so keep this in mind.
4. Pursue Certification
Many forensics careers allow you to become certified.
This is another way to increase your income and make yourself attractive to potential employers.
5. Have Patience
Starting a career in forensics can be a long process, so you’ll need patience and perseverance.
Keep your end goal in mind, and remember that your hard work will pay off in the long run.