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Data & network

Forensic scientist

Forensic scientists prepare traces of physical evidence for use in courts of law.

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £45,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 40 a week

You could work: on call; at short notice

3%
Future employment

There will be 3% more Forensic scientist jobs in 2025.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

In this role you could be:

  • blood grouping and DNA profiling
  • analysing fluid and tissue samples for traces of drugs and poisons
  • examining splash patterns and the distribution of particles
  • analysing handwriting, signatures, ink and paper
  • providing expert advice on explosives, firearms and ballistics
  • researching and developing new technologies
  • recovering data from computers, mobile phones and other electronic equipment
  • attending crime scenes, like a murder or fire
  • giving impartial, scientific evidence in court

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work on the streets, in a laboratory or in a court.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and emotionally demanding.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
University

You can do a degree or postgraduate qualification in:

  • forensic science
  • a related subject like chemistry, biological science, physics or medical sciences

It may help to choose a university qualification accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including chemistry
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information
Apprenticeship

You may be able to start by doing a laboratory scientist higher or degree apprenticeship.

It will help if you do your aprenticeship with a company that provides forensic science services, or with a police force that has its own in-house lab facilities.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
For more information
Direct application

You can apply directly to forensic services providers if you've got a lot of lab experience, and qualifications in science, especially chemistry.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

If you want to specialise in recovering data from computers and mobile phones, you'll need relevant experience and qualifications. Useful subjects include computing, electrical engineering, electronics or physics.

Further information

You can find out more on careers in forensics from The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

With experience, you could move into management and direct other forensics staff as a forensics manager or casework examiner.

You could also work as a reporting scientist, acting as an expert witness in court.

You can find out more on careers in forensics from The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • excellent written communication skills
  • the ability to work on your own
  • legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
  • customer service skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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