Top 10 Highest Paid Forensic Science Jobs

female forensic scientist using microscope

Forensic science has been in the spotlight recently mainly due to the abundance of TV series like CSI which follow the work of forensic scientists. The field is growing rapidly with more and more people enrolling in university courses. Because it essentially involves applying scientific methods to criminal or civil law, it’s a very open field with many career opportunities.

To help you pick a forensic science career, we’ve put together a short list of the top ten highest paid jobs in this field.

10. Scientific laboratory technician

Scientific laboratory technicians are involved with various types of research and investigation. For example, they test samples, record and analyse evidence. They also provide technical support to ensure that the lab functions effectively. What scientific laboratory technicians do is carry out work that allows scientists to perform more complex processes in the lab.


  • Perform lab tests
  • Produce precise data to support scientific investigations
  • Maintain lab equipment
  • Prepare graphs with results/data
  • Keep up-to-date with technical developments
  • Conduct research


  • Starting salary: £15,000 to £19,000
  • Experienced level: £20,000 to £25,000
  • Senior level: £30,000 to £40,000

9. Private investigator

A private investigator carries out investigations on behalf of his private clients. Often clients include law firms which need investigators to uncover evidence which they can present to court. But, it’s not uncommon for private investigators to have clients from the general public.


  • Researching legal records
  • Performing background checks
  • Interviewing people to assess facts
  • Conduct surveillance
  • Gather evidence through research and interviews
  • Present findings to clients and courts

8. Analytical chemist

Analytical chemists investigate the chemical nature of substances. Through research and experiments, they try to identify and understand different substances and how they behave in various conditions. In forensic science, they do work that is similar to toxicologists. They analyse samples to provide information on the quantity of compounds which are present.


  • Interpret data
  • Create reports
  • Develop techniques for the analysis of samples
  • Keeping up-to-date with health and safety issues


  • Starting salary: £17,000 to £25,000
  • Experienced level: £25,000 to £38,000
  • Senior level: £50,000

7. Teaching laboratory technician

Forensic laboratory technicians work in universities and secondary schools. They provide support to science teachers and lecturers to help create a positive experience in the lab, whether that is for university or school students. They are mainly concerned with providing technical support, i.e. equipment management and material supply.


  • Carry out experiments
  • Demonstrate techniques for experiments
  • Maintain and repair lab equipment
  • Cataloguing records
  • Coordinate lab work
  • Ensure that health and safety procedures are understood and followed


  • Starting salary: £15,000 (schools), £19,000 (universities)
  • Senior level: £30,000

6. Forensic scientist

Forensic scientists are responsible for presenting impartial scientific evidence in courts, and they are also responsible for supporting the criminal and civil investigations. Common pieces of evidence include blood, hair, clothing of fibres from clothing, tyre marks and glass fragments. Forensic scientists examine substances, perform DNA testing and examine tissue for drug and poison detection.


  • Analyse samples in a lab
  • Sort evidence
  • Record findings
  • Collect evidence
  • Review and supervise the work of assistants
  • Research and develop forensic techniques


  • Starting salary: £20,000
  • Experienced level: £25,000 and £35,000
  • Senior level: £45,000

5. Toxicologists

Toxicologists carry out experiments to understand the impact of toxic materials on humans and the environment. Forensic toxicologists work with samples from victims to figure out whether they were poisoned or to understand the circumstances of the situation better. They generally work in laboratories, and they plan and carry out various experiments, while analysing and evaluating data. They are also responsible for producing reports which need to be communicated in simple language and/or police jargon to help out the investigators.


  • Carrying out experiments
  • Evaluating data
  • Presenting findings
  • Writing reports


  • Starting salary: £20,000 to £30,000
  • Senior level: £75,000+

4. Biomedical scientist

Biomedical scientists work in laboratories and perform scientific tests on samples to diagnose and treat diseases. People interested in working in forensic science will need to test tissue samples and fluids from crime scenes to uncover evidence which will allow the investigators to find the culprit.


  • Process samples in a timely manner
  • Prepare reports with findings
  • Prioritise workload
  • Develop new methods of investigation
  • Record and share data in a way that can be understood by non-scientists


  • Starting Salary: £21,692 to £28,180
  • With experience/Specialist Knowledge: £26,041 to £34,876
  • Senior Level: £31,072 to £47,559

3. Detective 

Detectives are trained to carry out investigations for various types of crimes including drugs, domestic violence, homicide and even counter-terrorism. To do that they assess information and evidence to gain an accurate understanding of the situation and then evaluate it based on their expertise. They are also responsible for analysing and examining data, as well as conducting interviews and interrogations.


  • Conduct investigations
  • Develop strategies to understand and assess crimes
  • Examine records
  • Handle evidence
  • Conduct interrogations and interviews
  • Remain up-to-date with the law
  • Conduct raids, searches and/or arrests


  • Starting salary: £22,443 - £37,254 (for constables in England, Wales and N. Ireland rising in annual increments) / £27,015 -  £38, 001 (for Scotland)
  • Sergeants: £36,885 to £41,865
  • Inspectors: £47,730 to £51,771
  • Chief Inspector: £52,830 to £55,005
  • Superintendent: £63,552 to £75,066
  • Chief Superintendents: £78,768 to £83,094

2. Forensic psychologist

Forensic psychologists work with the police to assess and evaluate criminal behaviour. They are responsible from criminal profiling, as well as giving evidence in courts and advising boards and mental health tribunals. They also work with prisoners or offenders for treatment purposes and to rehabilitate them.


  • Carrying out one to one assessments
  • Implementing treatment
  • Criminal profiling
  • Providing expert witness testimonies at court
  • Researching and developing new treatment methods
  • Reviewing treatment processes
  • Working with crime victims


  • Starting salary: £24,000
  • Registered psychologists: £30,000 to £45,000

1. Forensic accountant

Forensic accountants investigate fraud, financial misrepresentation and other types of financial discrepancies. They are required to investigate and audit files and documents to identify financial irregularities. Often, forensic accountants have to travel abroad to conduct investigations, trace funds and identify assets for recovery.


  • Reviewing financial records
  • Tracing funds
  • Analysing financial data
  • Preparing data for court cases
  • Conducting financial investigations


  • Starting salary: £24,024
  • Experienced: £40,223
  • Senior level: £68,069

Were any of these jobs exciting enough for you, or do you think none of them would be quite like Criminal Minds or Bones? Let us know in the comments section below…

This article was ofiriganlly published in July 2014