Forensic Science Careers
14 January 2010
If you’re looking towards entering a forensic science program, it is important to know what your career options are before you make any decisions. You may not know if your expectations are realistic, or you may just not have a very good idea of what kind of things you can do in the field of forensic science. It is important to know what your opportunities are and where you are able to go within the field so you know if forensic science really is the job area that is most suited to you.
How much money can I make from a career in forensic science?
How much money you are able to earn from a career in forensic science depends on a few factors. Your level of education is important, as is your level of experience. New entrants earn significantly less than those who have been working in the field for many years. Similarly, having more education generally means earning more money. Typical starting salaries for those entering the forensic science field are somewhere around $30,000 per year and below. This is not the starting salary for a forensic scientist however, but instead that for a forensic science technician. New entrants to the field will almost always start out as forensic science technicians. Forensic science technicians have the ability to earn more during their time as technicians, and can earn as much as $45,000 per year once more experience is gained.
Many individuals who start out as forensic science technicians eventually gain the experience to become forensic scientists, although sometimes employers only hire those with graduate education or a specific forensic science undergraduate degree (rather than one in a relevant field such as chemistry or biology) as forensic scientists. Forensic scientists have the ability to earn a lot of money. The lower end of the earnings for forensic scientists is somewhere around $40,000 per year, but the most senior forensic scientists can earn as much as $70,000 and even up to $100,000, although, of course, it takes a long time to make it to this level.
Will I have freelancing opportunities within the forensic science field?
Within many careers, it is possible to work as a freelancer rather than for a specific employer. It is possible to work as a freelance forensic scientist, but your potential for work might be more limited than in other areas where individuals work in a freelance fashion. Most criminal investigation units have their own set of forensic scientists and therefore are unlikely to need to hire any. Some individuals may however hire forensic scientists privately for a while variety of reasons, although – of course – you will need access to lab equipment, which is not something most people have.