9 forensic science jobs with salaries and job duties

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 12 October 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are several career options in the forensic science field. 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-levels to a doctorate. In this article, we define what forensic science is and explore nine popular forensic science jobs, including their role duties and average salaries.

What forensic science jobs can you do?

Here is a list of nine forensic science jobs for you to consider:

1. Laboratory technician

National average salary: £22,319 per year

Primary duties: A laboratory technician is someone who works in a laboratory alongside a scientist, conducting investigations and tests into a range of scientific processes. Individuals may provide support regarding the sampling, calculating, reading and analysing of data. Additional responsibilities include maintaining clean work environments, writing reports, using computer software to analyse data and following health and safety guidelines.

Professionals in this field spend most of their time in a lab, as part of a medical or pharmaceutical institution, public companies or government agencies, although may occasionally conduct field research too. Whilst qualifications aren't necessary for this career, a degree in a related field like biology or chemistry can further chances when searching for forensic science jobs.

Related: What does a laboratory technician do? (Plus skills and tips)

2. Forensic scientist

National average salary: £24,074 per year

Primary duties: Forensic scientists can play a vital role in criminal investigations, as they examine crime scenes for traces of scientific evidence. This evidence can appear in the form of blood, hair and clothing and forensic scientists may attend court hearings to submit evidence. Additionally, they may perform highly complex scientific tests, communicate with police departments and lawyers and develop new research techniques.

Whilst they usually work standard office hours, investigators may call them to scenes at unsociable times. They typically split their time between attending crime scenes and analysing data in a laboratory. Anyone interested in being a forensic scientist can get a degree in forensic science or a related field but may wish to undertake postgraduate study as it can be a competitive field.

Related: What is pathology?

3. Police officer

National average salary: £28,339 per year

Primary duties: Police officers keep the public safe by attending live scenes, arresting perpetrators during criminal activity and deploying initiatives to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. They may patrol towns and cities or respond to 999 calls. Furthermore, they may attend large-scale events, conduct investigations in the early stages of cases and complete crime reports and administrative proceedings.

Police officers work in a shift-based pattern, across an entire seven-day week, frequently working unsociable hours, employed by a local police station. There are three main ways to become a police officer, based on existing qualifications: a Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA), degree holder entry and a pre-joining degree.

Related: How to become a police officer in the UK

4. Police investigator

National average salary: £29,685 per year

Primary duties: Also known as a crime scene investigator, this forensic science job entails attending crime scenes and gathering evidence to identify suspects and perpetrators of crimes. Police investigators can gather evidence in several ways, such as by photographing scenes, taking witness statements and examining clues and samples left at the scene. They can also preserve scenes, write reports and attend court hearings.

Usually employed by police forces, investigators tend to work up to 40 hours a week, in a shift pattern including nights and weekends and respond to calls across the entire year. Whilst it is not necessary to hold qualifications, degrees in fields like forensic science and psychology are common among police investigators, as are specific courses.

Related: How to become a crime scene investigator

5. Toxicologist

National average salary: £35,426 per year

Primary duties: A toxicologist is a professional who tests and examines potentially harmful chemicals and substances. They work in laboratories to identify any possible risks posed or harmful effects materials may have on humans and the environment. The role of a toxicologist also involves advising on the handling of substances, gathering statistical data and writing and presenting scientific reports.

Toxicologists tend to work standard 9-5 hours, but may work overtime if carrying out extensive, time-consuming studies. There is a wide range of potential industries, including academic, forensic and pharmaceutical. Aspiring toxicologists typically require a degree in related courses such as life sciences or medical science, with optional postgraduate opportunities in toxicology available.

Related: How to become a toxicologist: education and requirements

6. Detective

National average salary: £29,367 per year

Primary duties: Detectives are skilled police officers who investigate serious criminal cases relating to theft, drugs, cybercrime and homicide. They work to solve cases in much the same way as an investigator does, often in specialised departments like fraud, drugs, firearms and child protection squads. Their responsibilities include using intricate technologies, developing methods in challenging investigations and cooperating and working with members of the community.

Police forces commonly employ detectives, working 40 hours a week including weekends, evenings and commonly working overtime. Many individuals become a detective by first becoming a police officer, but training is also provided through the Police Now National Detective Programme.

Related: How to become a detective in the UK

7. Intelligence analyst

National average salary: £36,212 per year

Primary duties: An intelligence analyst is a professional who works to protect national security from threats like terror, drugs and cyber attacks. They're concerned with collecting and analysing data to ensure that the economy is secure. They may also use technology to identify targets, write up and deliver reports, monitor the trends and patterns of groups and follow strict security and privacy laws.

As an intelligence analyst, common employers are government intelligence and security agencies. Whilst analysts typically work standard office hours, there can be an expectation to work during pressurised and critical times. Whilst they accept graduates from all disciplines, they may favour those with a degree in IT, criminology or maths.

8. Biomedical scientist

National average salary: £34,368 per year

Primary duties: The role of a biomedical scientist is to conduct tests and studies to help clinicians diagnose and effectively treat patients. Biomedical scientists can specialise in infections, blood sciences, genetics and cell sciences, all the time providing support to serious health conditions like cancer and diabetes. Additional responsibilities include maintaining laboratory equipment, keeping updated on the latest technologies and identifying abnormal results.

Working in laboratories in hospitals, universities and medical organisations, biomedical scientists often work flexibly to cover a range of day and night shifts as part of a 24/7 operation. An Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) accredited degree in biomedical science is necessary for this career, as is time spent on clinical laboratory training.

Related: 13 biomedical science jobs (with salaries and duties)

9. Forensic accountant

National average salary: £50,656 per year

Primary duties: A forensic accountant applies their accountancy expertise to investigate financial discrepancies. This can include fraud or misconduct and involves carrying out extensive research into accounts and documents to uncover any abnormalities in a company's financial business. They may also manipulate spreadsheets, perform forensic analysis, carry out interviews and attend court hearings.

Forensic accountants usually work standard office hours, with additional time spent meeting deadlines, across several employers, such as banks and government organisations. Furthermore, one can become a forensic accountant with a degree in any subject and certification offered by the Institute of Certified Forensic Accountants is also an option.

Related: How to become a forensic accountant (plus skills and salary)

What is forensic science?

Forensic science is the application of scientific methods and processes in various legal and criminal-related settings. Forensic science 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. Forensic science relies on various forms of science—including chemistry, biology and physics—to analyse and interpret criminal-related data.

You can apply forensic science to:

  • collecting evidence from crime scenes

  • preserving and maintaining specimens to be analysed

  • interpreting criminal data

  • assisting in criminal or civil court cases

  • determining the cause of a crime

  • analysing evidence and using it to formulate hypotheses regarding a crime

Related: Types of forensic science (plus responsibilities and skills)

What skills do you need for forensic science careers?

Skills vary across careers, but some general abilities can help you make the most out of any career relating to forensic science. Good attention to detail is important, as you often need to factor in a lot of information in forensic science jobs. As many careers require a large amount of research, strong investigative skills are beneficial, as is an analytical mindset with problem-solving ability. Finally, forensic work can be long-winded and time-consuming, so a good level of patience can also help you succeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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