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Forensic scientist: Salary and conditions

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  • Starting salaries for trainee or assistant forensic scientists typically range from £16,000 to £18,000.
  • An MSc or PhD in a relevant subject may enable you to start higher on the salary scale.
  • With two to three years' experience, salaries increase to £25,000-£30,000.
  • Typical salaries at senior levels: £50,000 plus.
  • Working hours are variable. Extra hours are sometimes required to get a job done in the allotted time.
  • Giving evidence in court may involve working unsocial hours and having to be on call.
  • Most of the work is laboratory-based, but experienced forensic scientists may have to attend crime scenes. The balance of work in the laboratory, court and office varies between roles.
  • Geographical availability of posts is restricted by the location of forensic science laboratories.
  • At times, the work may be stressful and distressing, particularly when attending scenes of crimes. Considerable responsibility rests on the scientists presenting and defending their evidence in court under cross-examination.
  • Travel within a working day and absence from home at night are occasionally needed. Evening and weekend call-outs to scenes of crime are also common.
  • Overseas work is uncommon but attendance at conferences is common.

Salary figures are intended as a guide only.

Written by AGCAS editors
October 2012

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