How much do forensic scientists get paid per year?

Updated March 23, 2017

Forensic science covers a number of specialities. Many forensic scientists specialise in analysis of crime scene evidence. Others help reconstruct motor vehicle accidents and investigate industrial accidents. Some forensic investigators examine and identify skeletal and other human remains, while other specialists assess the mental health of criminal defendants. With forensic science spanning so many specialities, salaries vary by speciality, education, experience and employer.


Forensic science includes not only criminalists, the people who assist police investigators by collecting and analysing crime scene evidence, there also are forensic engineers, anthropologists and psychologists, as well as other specialities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provided an overview of forensic specialities in a 2009 article on careers in forensics. In that article, the bureau reported that salaries for forensic scientists generally reflect those of an individual specialist's larger occupational field. This means that a forensic chemist's salary will be similar to those of other chemists.


The BLS uses the term "forensic science technicians" to describe the men and women who collect, preserve, test and analyse evidence from crime scenes. Most of these individuals work for state and local law enforcement agencies, and the bureau reported in 2009 that they earn an average of £35,795 a year. BLS data indicated that forensic scientists in local government agencies earn more than their state-level counterparts. Salaries for forensic scientists in local agencies averaged £35,672 a year, while scientists in state governments earned about £34,450 a year.

Other Forensic Scientists

The website Inside Prison reported average salaries for a range of forensic scientists, including forensic biologists, firearms and tool mark examiners, forensic chemists and crime lab directors. Forensic biologists earned between £29,900 and £41,600 a year, while specialists in firearms and tool mark evidence earned between £15,600 and £55,250 a year, depending on experience and seniority. Forensic chemist salaries ranged from £37,700 to £47,450 a year. Crime lab directors earned between £37,700 and £49,400 a year.


For some scientists, forensic work may not be a full-time occupation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some forensic scientists, such as engineers, anthropologists and psychologists, may work full time in other occupations, such as teaching at a university, and providing forensic services when cases arise that require their expertise.

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About the Author

Shane Hall is a writer and research analyst with more than 20 years of experience. His work has appeared in "Brookings Papers on Education Policy," "Population and Development" and various Texas newspapers. Hall has a Doctor of Philosophy in political economy and is a former college instructor of economics and political science.