Career Outlook

Strong Career Opportunities for Forensic Science Graduates

Forensic science is a fast-growing field with strong career prospects for graduates.

  • In the last 10 years, employment in forensic science and technology has increased by 42% (compared to 8% for the average occupation in the U.S.)
  • In 2021, forensic scientists had an annual median salary of $61,930 (the mean annual wage of those working in the federal government was $114,220)
  • 15% of the nation's total Forensic Science Technicians are employed in California (making UC Davis a great place to earn your degree!)
  • A master's degree in forensic science is increasingly becoming an expectation/requirement for most local, state, federal and private crime labs (check out these guidelines from the Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods)

This growth is attributed to an increase in the use of forensic evidence in criminal investigations, advancements in forensic technology, and increased funding for forensic laboratories given the expected impact of new innovations in the field.

Forensics Scientists are Everywhere

Forensic scientist employment opportunities include local, regional and state forensic laboratories; private firms; colleges and universities; public defender contracts; district/prosecutor/state attorney's offices; and federal agencies such as the DEA, ATF, Customs and FBI. Forensic scientists can also be found in the U.S. Post Office, major corporations, and retail stores, and in prison administration.

UC Davis: The Best School for a Career in Forensic Science

A master's degree from UC Davis gives you the knowledge, network and experience to advance your career in a variety of roles, including:

  • Forensic scientist
  • Crime scene technician
  • Forensic analyst
  • Forensic technician
  • Crime scene investigator

Our curriculum is continually updated and directly aligned with requirements for a career in forensic science. As a result, our graduates are in demand and employed in the field throughout California and across the nation. This gives you a huge network to tap into.

Pie chart demonstrating careers of UC Davis Forensic Science Masters Program graduates.

A Few Words of Caution About Employment in Forensic Science

Positions in forensic science require evidence handling, analysis and sworn testimony, therefore an extensive background check prior to hire is a standard part of the application process. Polygraph testing may be required. The criteria used to evaluate an applicant varies from agency to agency, but many agencies examine criminal history (felony and misdemeanor), recreational drug use and credit history. Applicants should check individual employer criteria regarding specific disqualifying conduct.

Be honest during the application process—some agencies might overlook prior mistakes and experimentation with some recreational drugs, but dishonesty during the process will disqualify an applicant. If you are seeking employment in forensic science do not use drugs, do not break the law, and do not have bad credit.