Salary and Career Info for Forensic Criminology Professionals

Forensic criminology is generally a sociological field of study. Continue reading for an overview of the education options, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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Careers in forensic criminology include working as a forensic criminologist, forensic science technician, or forensic psychologist. A bachelor's degree is required to work as a forensic criminologist or forensic science technician, while a master's degree is required to enter the field as a forensic psychologist.

Essential Information

Forensic criminology is the scientific study of crime. Professionals in this field identify and predict psychological, sociological, and economic characteristics that may lead people to commit crimes. While many forensic criminologists work within the court system, the study of forensic criminology is also applicable to fields such as computer networking, accounting, and nursing.

Career Forensic Criminologists Forensic Science Technicians Forensic Psychologists
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree or associate's degree with relevant experience Bachelor's degree typically required A minimum of a master's degree is required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) -1% for sociologists* 27%* 10% for psychologists, all others*
Median Salary (2015) $73,760 for sociologists* $56,320* $94,590 for psychologists, all other*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Forensic criminology professionals work in many fields, from law enforcement to nursing. All of these professionals analyze crime from a scientific perspective. The applications of forensic criminology span even more diverse fields; for example, computer forensics involves collecting data from computers or electronic equipment that can be used as evidence against hacking or child pornography cases. Forensic accountants testify in court about fraud, insurance claims, and auditing issues. Even some nurses study forensics to treat victims of violent crime; they are often asked to testify in legal proceedings as well. Here is information on three potential careers.

Forensic Criminologists

Forensic criminologists consider factors such as income, race, gender, upbringing, and education in order to understand the nature of criminals. These professionals work in courthouses and labs, collecting physical data such as fingerprints and communicating with prisoners. Most forensic criminologists possess a bachelor's degree. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not collect data specifically focused on forensic criminologists, they predict that professionals in the related field of sociology earned a median salary of $73,760 as of May 2015. The BLS predicts a 1% decrease in sociologist jobs between 2014 and 2024.

Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic science technicians gather and analyze physical data related to crimes. Most of these technicians choose to specialize in either crime scene work or lab analysis. A bachelor's degree is typically required of these professionals. As of May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a median salary for forensic science technicians of $56,320. The BLS predicts that jobs in this field will increase by 27% between 2014 and 2024.

Forensic Psychologists

Forensic psychologists analyze criminals and suspects in court cases and provide assessments concerning subjects' mental health. These professionals work in labs, police departments, and courthouses. While a master's may be sufficient for entrance into this field, many psychologists possess a doctorate. As of January 2016, PayScale reported a median salary for forensic psychologists of $61,489; however, this was based on only 246 professionals reporting. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs in the field designated as 'psychologists, all others' should increase by 10% between 2014 and 2024 and that professionals in this category (which includes forensic psychologists) earned a median annual salary of $94,590.


To become a criminology professional, a person should earn a bachelor's degree in sociology, psychology, or criminal justice. Coursework may include law, police science, and statistics. Along with relevant experience, an undergraduate degree may be sufficient for entry-level positions.

To further a career in forensic criminology as a social scientist, however, a person should consider obtaining a master's degree in criminology or criminal justice. He or she might want to gain experience working in prisons, hospitals, or social services offices. Candidates should have good analytical skills, since social scientists often conduct research and examine statistics and trends. Solid communication abilities are also necessary to explain and report on findings to other academics or colleagues.

Forensic criminologists consider information such as race, income and gender that may help them understand the nature of crime, while forensic science technicians gather and analyze evidence from crime scenes. Forensic psychologists analyze criminals and assess a suspect's mental health. Those who work in forensic criminology play a critical role in the apprehension of criminals and their prosecution.

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