Forensic scientist

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

Average salary (a year)

£20,000 Starter


£45,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 40 a week

You could work

on call at short notice

How to become a Forensic scientist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course


You'll need to study a degree or postgraduate qualification in subjects like:

  • 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 to 3 A levels for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information

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 more details about careers in forensics from The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

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
  • you will be expected to use a computer confidently as part of this job.

What you'll do

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 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 may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

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.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Scientific Manufacturing Technician role – Laboratory Scientist

  • Wage : £14,000.00 Annually
  • Location: Slough SL1 4DX

Laboratory Science Apprenticeship

  • Wage : £16,500.00 Annually
  • Location: Stevenage SG1 2NY

Courses In England

Applied Science BTEC Extended Certificate

  • Provider: Foxford School and Community Arts College
  • Start date: 03 September 2019
  • Location: Coventry

Science BTEC Certificate leading to Extended Certificate

  • Provider: Havering Sixth Form College
  • Start date: 05 September 2019
  • Location: Hornchurch

Get help using this service

Call 0800 100 900

8am to 10pm, 7 days a week

More ways to contact us

Is this page useful?

Yes No