A Guide to Forensic Science Careers (With Salary Information)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 28 August 2022
Published 30 August 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.
Forensic science is a field of study related to crimes, evidence and criminal proceedings. It is a field with immense scope for specialisation and good earning potential. If you are interested in this discipline, you may benefit from knowing about the variety of career paths it offers and their prospects. In this article, we outline some popular forensic science careers and discuss how to start a career in this field.
What is forensic science?
Forensic science is the application of scientific methods and processes in various legal and crime-related settings. It is most commonly used in criminal investigations and criminal convictions. The primary focus of forensic science is to uncover physical evidence through identification, testing and evaluation. Forensic science relies on various forms of science, including chemistry, biology and physics, to analyse and interpret crime-related data. Forensic science may be applied to:
Collecting evidence from crime scenes
Preserving and cataloguing specimens for analysis
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
Top forensic science careers
These are some of the popular careers in the field of forensic science:
National average salary: ₹18,031 per month
Primary duties: Pathologists may choose to specialise in the domain of medical forensics. These professionals are responsible for conducting autopsies on bodies to determine the cause of death. They may assist in the investigation of crimes like murders and evaluate the findings of autopsies. Forensic pathology is a specialisation within a medical course that involves residency training.
National average salary: ₹2,33,446 per year
Primary duties: Forensic science technicians work at crime scene investigations and are responsible for gathering and analysing evidence. They may take photos and keep written records of crime scene evidence. These professionals most commonly work for crime labs, police departments and medical examiner offices.
National average salary: ₹2,69,071 per year
Primary duties: Private investigators investigate both civil and criminal cases on behalf of clients. They may occasionally require the help of local law enforcement and forensic technicians on their cases.
National average salary: ₹2,91,704 per year
Primary duties: Criminal lawyers help their clients get the best outcomes out of standing criminal cases against them. A deep knowledge of forensic science is highly beneficial for criminal lawyers, as it is a central part of their work. Criminal lawyers themselves may perform several forensic investigations related to their cases. They also interact frequently with law enforcement officials and forensic technicians.
National average salary: ₹3,41,181 per year
Primary duties: Forensic scientists are responsible for identifying, studying and testing evidence related to crimes and civil disputes. They may work in-house or on a contract basis with government agencies. They may also work with private institutions and lend their consultation services to clients. Their work is crucial for the development of forensic science as a subject, and they may even devise new methods and practices that can be applied in the field.
National average salary: ₹5,57,246 per year
Primary duties: Forensic analysts typically aid in the investigation and judiciary procedures associated with cyber crimes. They may also work within the cyber cell of the police force or with cyber police officers to gather data related to criminal or civil cases. For example, the cyber police may require a forensic analyst to gather call records or triangulate the locations of suspects at a given time. Forensic analysis is a critical part of many investigation routines and hence, skilled analysts are often in high demand.
National average salary: ₹5,82,093 per year
Primary duties: In addition to working with trained forensic technicians, police officers undergo forensics training themselves, especially when they step into higher positions in the force. Although you may not require formal academic qualifications in forensic science to become a police officer, forensic work is a crucial element of police work. Candidates with a forensic science degree may consider appearing for the IPS (Indian Police Service) examination and entering the force as a superintendent of police.
National average salary: ₹7,06,897 per year
Primary duties: Forensic investigators are responsible for investigating evidence found at a crime scene. They may take photos of the crime scene, collect samples and examine evidence in a lab. They then use the evidence to make assumptions regarding the details of the crime.
National average salary: ₹8,42,694 per year
Primary duties: A professor teaches students at the graduate or postgraduate level. To teach forensic science as a professor, you may require higher academic qualifications like an M.Sc (Master of Science) or PhD in forensic science. Professors mentor students, assign academic objectives, conduct lectures, review assignments and evaluate the performance of students.
National average salary: ₹8,50,931 per year
Primary duties: Crime labs may process multiple operations at a time and may require professionals to manage routine activities. A forensics manager is a professional who oversees the activities that support criminal investigations. They may plan, direct and coordinate various activities related to forensic science within a crime lab or other forensics organisation.
National average salary: ₹14,80,037 per year
Primary duties: Forensic specialists assess physical evidence from a crime scene using various methods of analysis, including chemical, instrumental and microscopic methods. They may work with biological fluids, drugs, blood, residue and other materials found at a crime scene. They may serve as expert witnesses in court cases and conduct research related to new forensic equipment and technology.
Where do forensic experts work?
Professionals in the field of forensics have job prospects in both public and private institutions, including:
The Quality Council of India (QCI)
Government-run forensic science laboratories
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
The Intelligence Bureau (IB)
Private investigation agencies
What is the highest paying job in forensics?
Forensic science is a field with very high earning potential. The estimated base salary of a forensic scientist is ₹3,41,181 per year. Among the variety of careers associated to the forensic sciences, the job role of forensic specialist pays the highest. The estimated base salary of a forensic specialist is ₹14,80,037 per year.
How to start a career in forensics
If you want to start a career in forensics, follow these steps:
1. Graduate from higher secondary school
Graduate from higher secondary school with science subjects and secure a minimum of 50% aggregate marks. You may even require 70% aggregate marks to be eligible for some undergraduate science courses. Forensic science is not offered by a lot of colleges at the undergraduate level and the seats are limited. So you can expect a fair amount of competition while applying to reputed institutions.
2. Pursue a diploma or certification course
If you want to enter the field of forensics, you may consider pursuing a diploma or a certification course. The eligibility for pursuing these courses is 10+2 education, and you can directly enter the job market after completing them. Popular courses include fingerprint examination, document examination and forensic science.
3. Pursue a bachelor's degree
You may consider getting a B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science) in forensic science degree to be eligible for a wider range of entry-level forensics jobs. Other popular courses include B.Sc. in forensic science and criminology, B.Tech in cyber security and forensics and B.Sc in chemistry. A B.Sc. course typically takes three years to complete, while a B.Tech usually takes four. An undergraduate course may train you in both theoretical and practical aspects of a career in forensic sciences. Although most colleges provide admissions on the basis of board exam aggregate, some may conduct their own entrance examinations.
4. Consider a master's degree
Although not mandatory to start a career in forensics, a post-graduate degree or diploma can help you get higher positions in institutions and teaching jobs in universities. Popular courses include M.Sc. (Master of Science) in forensic science, M.Sc. in forensic science and criminology, M.Sc in information security and cyber forensics, a post-graduate diploma in forensic science and a post-graduate diploma in forensic psychology. Post-graduate courses typically take one to two years to complete.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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.
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