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What can I do with a forensic science degree?
Find out what you can do with your degree in forensic science including job options, work experience, further study and skills.
Author AGCAS editors Posted June, 2020
Forensic science graduates are highly employable, both in the specialist area of forensic investigation and in other associated fields requiring an enquiring, scientific and legal mind
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
Crime scene investigator
Detective Forensic scientist
Scientific laboratory technician
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
Border force officer
Forensic computer analyst
Further education teacher
Higher education lecturer
Police officer Science writer
Secondary school teacher
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
Take a few minutes to answer the Job Match quiz and find out what careers would suit you
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It's essential that you gain some laboratory work experience in order to prove you have the necessary skills, such as attention to detail and accuracy, as well as having knowledge of laboratory techniques. Work experience is more likely to be found in a scientific or hospital laboratory than a forensic setting due to the sensitive nature of the work.
Working for the police is another good option, for example as a special constable, as this will provide you with a valuable insight into police work and the role of forensics.
It may also be possible for you to find internships that contain some laboratory work with smaller employers. These positions may be voluntary but could lead to paid employment.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
The government outsources most of its forensic work, so job opportunities mainly arise in private companies.
Other major employers of forensic science graduates include police support departments, the Ministry of Defence (MoD), particularly the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the NHS and educational or private research laboratories. Opportunities can often be found by exploring the strong links between academic departments and employers, so check with your university for potential contacts.
Find information on employers in science and pharmaceuticals, law enforcement and security and other job sectors.
Employers hiring forensic science graduates now
Grundon Wallingford Competitive salary
View more science and law enforcement jobs
Advertisement Skills for your CV
Studying forensic science develops skills specific to laboratory work including:
attention to detail
analytical and interpretative skills
a methodical approach
patience and concentration, as laboratory work can be routine and detailed.
Some skills are transferable, such as:
teamwork and working independently
presentation skills, as you need to be an effective verbal and written communicator, for example when compiling court reports.
There are personal qualities that may be useful, such as having a resilient outlook - some of the work is upsetting and unpleasant. You could be asked to work unsocial hours, so a flexible approach is helpful.
Typical postgraduate study includes Masters in forensic science, molecular biology or fire investigation. Doctorate research could include drug, perfume or DNA analysis, or terrorism.
A relevant Masters degree or PhD can significantly improve your employment prospects as competition intensifies for jobs. However, it's worth considering that courses can be difficult to fund and demand a higher level of academic ability.
For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses in forensic science.
What do forensic science graduates do?
Laboratory technician (9%) is the top job held by forensic science graduates employed in the UK fifteen months after graduation. Chemical scientists, biological scientists, biochemists and biomedical scientists, and science, engineering and production technicians are also among the top ten jobs held by forensic science graduates.
Employed 65.7 Further study 10
Working and studying 8.2
Unemployed 9.3 Other 6.8
Graduate destinations for forensic science
Type of work Percentage
Retail, catering and customer service 23.3
Other professionals 14.8
Clerical, secretarial and administrative 10.5
Types of work entered in the UK
Find out what other graduates are doing 15 months after finishing their degrees in What do graduates do?
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
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25 Popular Forensic Science Careers To Investigate
Learn what forensic science is and explore 25 of the most popular forensic science careers as well as their job duties and average salaries.
25 Popular Forensic Science Careers To Investigate
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated June 16, 2022
Published February 25, 2020
This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach
If you have a keen interest in crime-solving and attention to detail, a career in the forensic science field may be a good fit. This industry is a cross between the medical and legal sectors and plays an important role in everything from solving serious crimes to supporting the legal system in the courts. Careers in forensic science vary widely and require education and experience that ranges from a high school diploma to a doctorate.
In this article, we define what forensic science is and explore 25 popular forensic science careers as well as their job duties and average salaries.
See how your salary compares
Get personalized salary insights with the Indeed Salary Calculator
What is forensic science?
Forensic science is the application of scientific methods and processes in various legal and criminal-related settings. It is most commonly used in criminal investigations as well as in criminal convictions. The primary focus of forensic science is to uncover physical evidence through recognition, identification, testing and evaluation. It relies on various forms of science, including chemistry, biology and physics, to analyze and interpret criminal-related data.
Forensic science may be applied to:
Collecting evidence from crime scenes
Preserving and cataloging specimens to be analyzed
Interpreting criminal data
Assisting in criminal or civil court cases
Determining the cause of a crime
Analyzing evidence and using it to formulate hypotheses regarding a crime
Related: What is Forensic Science? (Plus How To Become a Forensic Scientist)
10 common forensic science jobs
Here are 10 careers you can pursue within the forensic science field. For the most up-to-date salaries, click on the links below.
1. Fingerprint technician
National average salary: $41,752 per year
Primary duties: These professionals study and evaluate fingerprints in criminal investigations. They work in crime labs and crime scenes. Fingerprint technicians process and preserve fingerprint samples, analyze fingerprints and load fingerprint images into fingerprint databases for comparison.
Requirements: A bachelor's degree in forensic science or a related field is typically required.
Related: How To Become a Fingerprint Technician
2. Evidence technician
National average salary: $48,838 per year
Primary duties: Evidence technicians are responsible for collecting evidence at crime scenes, processing the evidence and transporting the evidence to storage locations.
Requirements: Most evidence technician jobs require a degree in criminal justice or a related field. Some positions may allow individuals to hold an entry-level evidence technician job with previous experience and on-the-job training.
Related: How To Become an Evidence Technician
3. Forensic science technician
National average salary: $49,103 per year
Primary duties: Forensic science technicians work at crime scene investigations and are responsible for gathering and analyzing evidence. They may take photos and keep written records of crime scene evidence. These professionals most commonly work for crime labs, police departments and medical examiner offices.
Requirements: A minimum of a bachelor's degree in forensic science is typically required for this position.
Related: How To Become a Forensic Science Technician
4. Forensic specialist
National average salary: $57,750 per year
Primary duties: Forensic specialists assess physical evidence from a crime scene using various methods of analysis, including chemical, instrumental and microscopic methods. They may work with biological fluids, drugs, blood, gunshot residue and other materials found at a crime scene. They may serve as expert witnesses in court cases and conduct research related to new forensic equipment and technology.
Requirements: A minimum of a bachelor's degree in forensic science, chemistry, biology or a related field is required. Several years of experience working in a forensic science lab is often needed to obtain a job as a forensic specialist.
Related: How To Become a Ballistics Expert in 4 Steps
5. Forensics manager
National average salary: $63,494 per year
Primary duties: A forensics manager is a professional who oversees the activities that support criminal investigations. They may plan, direct and coordinate various activities related to forensic science within a crime lab or other forensics organization.
Requirements: A minimum of a bachelor's degree in forensic science or a related field is required.
6. Forensic investigator
National average salary: $71,799 per year
Primary duties: Forensic investigators are responsible for investigating evidence found at a crime scene. They may take photos of the crime scene, collect samples and examine evidence in a lab. They then use the evidence to make assumptions regarding the details of the crime.
Requirements: This position requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, forensic science or a related field.
Related: How To Become a Crime Scene Investigator
Forensic Science Careers
Are you interested in learning more about careers in forensic science? Click for information about opportunities at all levels of education. Start planning today.
Forensic Science Careers
by Staff Writers
Published on August 2, 2021 · Updated on January 21, 2022
Ready to start your journey?
From the crime scene to the laboratory, forensic science applies several disciplines to help solve crimes. Students interested in forensic science careers can pursue degrees in forensic science, criminal justice, and legal studies. To find success, they must supplement their legal knowledge with an understanding of biology, chemistry, and computer programming.
Read on to learn about popular forensic science careers, degrees, and continuing education opportunities.
Why Pursue a Career in Forensic Science?
Forensic science offers many fulfilling career opportunities across several industries. Forensic technicians, crime scene investigators, and digital forensic analysts help solve crimes, prosecute the guilty party, and provide comfort to families impacted by crime.
Graduates interested in pursuing a career with a forensic science degree should have strong observational skills and be well organized. Additionally, they need keen analytical skills to follow evidence and form conclusions. Many forensic scientists work independently, and some specialize in a particular type of evidence, including blood spatter analysis or DNA analysis.
Forensic technicians work in the field and in lab settings where they analyze evidence. Technicians typically work full time, and duties may require working nights or weekends.
Forensic Science Career Outlook
Forensic science technicians earn a median annual salary of $59,150, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, salaries vary by industry. For example, state government agencies offer forensic science technicians the highest median annual salary of $60,830, while medical and diagnostic labs pay a median annual salary of $38,380.
The BLS projects 14% job growth for forensic science technicians between 2018 and 2028. However, keep in mind that this specialized field employs less people than other careers.
Job seekers may face stiff competition for employment, especially at federal agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Increasing your level of education and professional experience can enhance your resume and increase your job opportunities.
The table below provides salary information for a few popular forensic science careers. It also illustrates how gaining professional experience can lead to higher salaries.
MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY FOR FORENSIC SCIENCE CAREERS
Forensic Scientist $49,290 $53,700 $63,490 $75,850 Forensic Accountant $59,220 $62,930 $81,680 $93,550
Forensic Computer Analyst
$63,140 $69,210 $88,050 $100,860 Source: PayScale
Skills Gained With a Forensic Science Degree
While programs may vary in terms of their curricula and focus, all forensic science degrees teach similar core competencies.
Students examine the structures and operations of the U.S. criminal system. They also learn to conduct research, applying quantitative and qualitative analysis methods that abide by industry best practices and legal procedures for admissible evidence.
Forensic Science Career Paths
Forensic science students can align their academic experience with career objectives through diverse concentrations in both bachelor's and graduate programs. Options differ based on the school but often include criminology, criminal justice, legal studies, and information technology/cybersecurity.
Business administration and project management courses can lead to careers in the private sector. Below are a few career opportunities for students who earn a forensic science degree.
How to Start Your Career in Forensic Science
Education plays a large role in a student's forensic science career opportunities and salary potential. This section explores the job opportunities available to professionals with associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees.
While these occupations are accessible by meeting minimum criteria, employers generally prefer applicants with advanced degrees and relevant experience.
At the associate level, students prepare for support positions like laboratory and legal assistants. They also train to perform specific tasks within the forensic science field, like print examination and fire inspection.
Bachelor's programs prepare students for forensic science technician and analytical chemist positions. Graduates can also work as teachers and technical writers.
Students who enroll in graduate programs build on their foundational skill set through specialized classes, leadership training, and research projects. They can pursue careers as information systems analysts and clinical practitioners. Additionally, professionals with doctoral degrees can qualify for tenured teaching positions at colleges and universities.
How to Advance Your Career in Forensic Science
The field of forensic science continues to change. Technological and scientific breakthroughs provide new techniques for evidence collection and preservation. As a result, successful forensic scientists never stop learning.
Many organizations require forensic technicians to undertake regular continuing education and professional training. This training can also lead to promotions as you gain new skills and knowledge.