With an associate's degree or certificate it is possible to begin a career as a forensic analyst. Forensic analysts play a vital role in collecting and reviewing evidence from crime scenes. They may also specialize and work as a forensic computer analyst.
Forensic analysts specialize in collecting and analyzing physical evidence from a crime scene. They may also testify in court proceedings. The position generally requires a minimum of an associate's degree, though upper-level programs are also available. Several specializations exist in the field of forensic analysis, including criminal justice, information technology and psychology, requiring further education.
|Required Education||Associate's degree or certificate|
|Optional Education||Bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in specialized fields|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*||14% for all forensic science technicians|
|Average Salary (2018)*||$58,230 for all forensic science technicians|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Career Information for a Forensic Analyst
Forensic analysts may be included in evidence and crime scene investigations, but are primarily responsible for finding and assessing physical data. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recorded 16,700 jobs for forensic science technicians and anticipated a rise in forensic science technician employment between 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). The highest concentration of forensic scientists are employed with Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories, state governments, local government, architectural, engineering, and related services, and federal executive branch, in May 2018.
The most familiar duties of a forensic scientist include contributions made to police investigations through blood and physical evidence analysis, testifying as an expert during a trial and providing psychological evaluations on criminal behavior. However, forensic analysts may also be responsible for information and digital security within public and private sectors.
Academic prerequisites for the profession vary, allowing completion of a relevant associate degree or certificate program to meet eligibility requirements for entry-level positions. Bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in forensics provided through criminal justice, physical sciences and information technology programs offer advanced studies and generally serve to support specialization within a career. A forensic analyst may focus studies in specific areas, such as network security, chemistry or anthropology.
Salary Information for a Forensic Analyst
In May 2018, the BLS reported that forensic science technician's mean salary was $62,490. It further stated that the federal government offered the highest salaries at approximately $110,720 per year, though only about 140 professionals were employed at this level.
An often overlooked field in forensic science includes information technology and computer security. September 2019 data from PayScale.com showed that forensic computer analysis can be a top-paying profession. Analysts in the field of digital forensics reported salaries ranging from $47,000- $116,000. Often employed by companies or private security firms, computer forensic analysts may increase job opportunities and earning potential with professional credentials, such as the Certified Forensic Analyst certification offered through the Global Information Assurance Certification association.
With strong job growth projected from 2018-2028, those interested in a career as a forensic analyst should find many opportunities in their field they can pursue. Although an associate's degree or certificate may be sufficient to begin a career in this field, a bachelor's or master's may be required to specialize.