Forensic Nurse Salary Guide [2023]

Forensic nursing is a challenging and rewarding profession that offers a range of job opportunities, from hospitals to law enforcement agencies. One of the most important aspects of any career is salary, and forensic nursing is no exception.

Forensic nurses’ salaries can vary widely depending on factors such as experience, education, location, and type of employer. Read on to learn all about forensic nurses’ salaries, responsibilities, job outlook, and more.

What Is a Forensic Nurse?

A forensic nurse is a registered nurse who has received specialized training in healthcare and criminal justice. They provide care and treatment to victims of violence and abuse, including sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and elder abuse. 

To succeed in this field, forensic nurses must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as well as a deep understanding of forensic science, evidence collection and preservation, and legal proceedings. They may work in hospitals, clinics, law enforcement agencies, or community-based organizations.

Forensic nursing can be a challenging but rewarding career, as it provides the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of vulnerable individuals who have experienced trauma.

Forensic Nurse Salary & Job Outlook

Forensic nursing is a specialized field that offers decent salaries and job growth potential. According to ZipRecruiter, forensic nurses earn a median annual salary of $73,786. The salary of a forensic nurse can go up to $168,500 depending on several factors, including the state where you practice, the experience you have in the field, as well as the work setting.

The job outlook for registered nurses, including forensic nurses, is also strong, with a projected employment growth rate of 6% from 2021 to 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Forensic nurse salary by state

Reports show that the highest-paying states for forensic nurses include New York, Idaho, and California, with average annual salaries ranging from $78K to over $81K. On the other hand, the states with the lowest wages for forensic nurses include Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina, with median annual salaries ranging from $52K to $57K. See the map below for forensic nurses‘ wages in other states.

Forensic nurse salary by years of experience

Experience is an important factor in determining a forensic nurse’s salary. More experienced nurses typically earn higher salaries. According to SalaryExpert, the average salary for a forensic nurse with 1-3 years of experience is around $62,082 per year. However, those with more experience (8+ years) can expect to earn around $108,244 annually.

How To Increase Your Salary as a Forensic Nurse

There are several ways to boost your salary and advance your career as a forensic nurse. Here are some of them:

  1. Continuing education: Advanced education can enhance your skill set and make you a valuable employee. Consider obtaining a master’s degree in forensic nursing or a related field.
  2. Obtain certifications: Certifications can demonstrate your expertise and dedication to the field, increasing your marketability and earning potential.
  3. Seek promotion: Advancement opportunities within your organization, such as moving from a staff nurse position to a supervisory role, may be available. Consider taking on additional responsibilities, such as training and mentoring new staff or leading quality improvement initiatives, to demonstrate your leadership skills.
  4. Consider relocating: Salaries for forensic nurses vary depending on location, so research job opportunities in areas that pay more.
  5. Negotiate your salary: When applying for a new job or seeking a raise, be prepared to negotiate your salary. Research the average salary for forensic nurses in your area and be ready to explain why you deserve a higher salary based on your skills, education, and experience.

By taking these steps, you can increase your salary and advance your career as a forensic nurse.

Should You Become a Forensic Nurse?

Becoming a forensic nurse can be an incredibly fulfilling career choice for those interested in healthcare and criminal justice. Forensic nurses play a vital role in providing care to patients who have experienced violence, abuse, or trauma. 

Additionally, as the field of forensic nursing continues to grow, there is a high demand for qualified professionals, meaning that job prospects are strong. Hence, this career offers competitive salaries and many opportunities for advancement. 

If you are someone who is devoted to helping others and interested in a challenging and rewarding career, then forensic nursing can be an excellent choice for you. 

Benefits of being a forensic nurse


The field of forensic nursing offers a wide range of personal and professional benefits for those interested in this rewarding career. One of the primary benefits is the ability to make a meaningful impact on the lives of patients who have experienced violence, abuse, or trauma. Forensic nurses provide compassionate care and support, helping patients to heal physically, mentally, and emotionally while also advocating for their legal rights.

Forensic nursing offers a diverse range of job opportunities across various settings, including hospitals, clinics, law enforcement agencies, and community organizations. This diversity allows nurses to explore different career paths and find opportunities that align with their interests and skill sets. Additionally, the demand for qualified forensic nurses is high, providing strong job prospects and competitive salaries.

As a forensic nurse, there are many opportunities for developing different skills, learning, and growing. Forensic nursing requires knowledge and skills across various areas, such as trauma-informed care, evidence collection, and legal procedures. This allows nurses to continually improve their skills and knowledge as well as stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices.

How To Become a Forensic Nurse

To become a forensic nurse, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Earn a nursing degree: Forensic nursing requires a nursing degree, typically a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN).
  2. Gain nursing experience: After completing your nursing degree, you will need to gain nursing experience. Forensic nurses typically work in emergency departments, rape crisis centers, and other healthcare settings.
  3. Obtain certification: Many organizations offer certifications for forensic nurses, such as the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), which demonstrates your knowledge and competence in forensic nursing.
  4. Attend forensic nursing training: Attend programs, such as those offered by IAFN, to further develop your skills and knowledge in forensic nursing.
  5. Pursue continuing education: Forensic nursing is a constantly evolving field, so it is important to stay up-to-date with current research and practices through continuing education and professional development opportunities.
  6. Apply for forensic nursing jobs: Look for forensic nursing job opportunities at hospitals, healthcare facilities, and other organizations that require forensic nursing services.

By following these steps, you can become a forensic nurse and contribute to the field of forensic nursing.

What’s the Bottom Line?

With the high demand for qualified professionals in this field, there has never been a better time to consider a career in forensic nursing. So, if you’re passionate about forensic nursing, start exploring the opportunities today! 

But if you’re still unsure and want to learn more about different nursing specialties and their salaries before making the final decision, check out our nursing salary and career guides by clicking here.

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