How Much Do Forensic Scientists Make?


According to the Dept. of Labor, the jobs that pay the most hire the fewest people. Forensic scientists working for the U.S. government (of which there are about 150 in the U.S.) make, on average, $40 an hour. This works out to about $84,000 a year.

The next highest paid forensic scientists work for consulting firms, whether they’re doing general management, scientific work or technical advising. The average salary here is about $53,000 a year.

Hospitals come in third (both general and surgical hospitals), and pay about $52,000 a year in salary.

Your local and state governments come in next. Of course, there are far more local positions available in the U.S. than State (almost by a factor of two). Interestingly, though, the local jobs pay more than the state ones. Your local crime lab will pay you about $51,000 a year, while the state lab will fork over a little under $50,000.

We’ve collected in one place the top 10 highest paying jobs in forensic science here. Stop by and take a look.

We’ve arranged the jobs from the least paying to the highest paying, and talked about the reasons behind why one pays more than the other: usually geography, demand, and the amount of forensic science education required to practice. As you might expecy, private detectives and general crime scene technicians take home the least pay, largely because the educational demands are not as rigorous, nor are they as standardized across the employing agencies. Around the middle of the pack you see forensic biologists and forensic chemists, who typically have a bachelors of science in a natural science — or, more recently, a BS or BA in forensic science proper. Finally, in the highest paying bracket of forensics careers, you see masters-level degree holders and above.