How Much Do Forensic Nurses Make?

5 Min Read Published November 6, 2023
Forensic nurse salary

Forensic nurses work with crime victims to gather medical evidence and provide expert testimony for court cases. This article explores forensic nurse salaries, including how much they can expect to make by state, city, and other factors.

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What Is the Average Forensic Nurse Salary?

The median salary for all registered nurses (RNs) nationwide is $81,220 annually or $39.05 per hour (BLS). Forensic nurses earn $72,659 annually or $35 per hour, according to ZipRecruiter. Most forensic nurses make between $46,500 and $99,000, with top earners making $120,000 annually.

Forensic Nurse Salary by State

Location is one of the most influential factors in determining how much you can make as a forensic nurse. So how much does a forensic nurse make by state? It turns out that the highest-paying state for forensic nurses pays more than $20,000 more each year than the lowest.


Annual Salary

Hourly Wage

New York


















New Jersey

































New Hampshire












Rhode Island



South Dakota



North Dakota









New Mexico

































South Carolina















West Virginia


















North Carolina






Via ZipRecruiter

Forensic Nurse Salary by City

Your salary as a forensic nurse may also change depending on whether you live in a metropolitan or rural area. Some of the highest-paying cities to practice as a forensic nurse are as follows:


Annual Salary

Hourly Wage

Bolinas, CA



Bellefonte, DE



New Hartford Center, CT



Millbourne, PA



Casa Blanca, AZ



Walker Valley, NY



Heidelberg, PA



Potomac Heights, MD



Santa Clara, CA



Great Neck Gardens, NY



Via ZipRecruiter

Forensic Nurse Salary Factors

Forensic Nursing Salary by Years of Experience

Forensic nurses can earn a higher annual salary with increased years of experience.

  • 1-4 years: $29.96 average hourly wage
  • 5-9 years: $30.91 average hourly wage

Via Payscale

Forensic Nursing Salary by Work Setting

Generally, forensic nurses work in hospitals; however, they can work in several other locations, such as:

  • Community anti-violence programs
  • Coroner's and medical examiner’s offices
  • Corrections institutions 
  • Communities after natural disasters
  • Psychiatric hospitals
  • Academia

There isn’t much data on how different industries impact forensic nurse salaries specifically. However, we can examine how overarching RN salaries change within these industries. The BLS query system provides industry-specific RN wage insights for many places where forensic nurses can work.

For example, RNs in academia make the most out of the industries listed. They have annual salaries of up to $108,150 at local government-owned colleges, universities, and professional schools.

On the other hand, those at psychiatric hospitals make between $78,160 at privately owned psychiatric hospitals and $82,030 at state-owned. RNs working in emergency relief, like aiding communities after natural disasters, earn $73,880.

Source: BLS, Date extracted: Aug 22, 2023

9 Ways to Increase Your Salary as a Forensic Nurse

You can increase your forensics nurse salary in a few ways:

  1. Earn a forensic nursing certificate
  2. Work night or weekend shifts that offer higher per-hour wages
  3. Advance your education by earning a Master’s in Forensic Nursing or higher
  4. Work per diem or become a travel forensic nurse
  5. Train to become a preceptor for new hires
  6. Become a charge nurse or nurse manager in your unit
  7. Climb the clinical ladder within the unit
  8. Participate in a unit or hospital-based committee
  9. Pick up overtime hours on your unit or in other parts of the hospital

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Forensic Nurse?

The cost of becoming a nurse can be overwhelming. However, scholarships, loans, and tuition reimbursement make it feasible for anyone interested in the field.

Remember, there is no one set cost for nursing school. Programs can range from a few thousand dollars to over $80,000 and even $100,000 at private or Ivy League nursing schools.

Forensic Nurse Salary vs Other Specialties

Forensic nurses earn an average of $72,659 annually or $35 per hour. Here’s how that compares to some other nursing specialties:

Salaries via ZipRecruiter

Forensic Nurse Salary FAQs

  • What do forensic nurses do?

    • Forensic nurses collect evidence, photograph injuries for evidence, and work with domestic violence and abuse victims. They also work with law enforcement and legal teams to help victims, testify in court, and work with medical examiners.
  • What state pays forensic nurses the most?

    • New York is the highest-paying state for forensic nurses, with reported annual salaries of $66,391 or $31.92 per hour.
  • Are forensic nurses in high demand?

    • Since very few forensic nurses are currently practicing, there is a demand for these healthcare professionals. However, forensic nurses only serve a specific patient population. So, many hospitals and healthcare systems don't see the benefits of having forensic nurses on staff.
  • Is forensic nursing a good career?

    • Despite being one of the lesser-paid nursing specialties, many forensic nurses report finding the work extremely rewarding. The differences they make in patients' lives can be worth earning a little less than other types of nurses.
  • Do forensic nurses make more than nurses?

    • Forensic nurses generally make less than other nurses, according to reported salaries.
Kathleen Gaines
Kathleen Gaines
News and Education Editor

Kathleen Gaines (nee Colduvell) is a nationally published writer turned Pediatric ICU nurse from Philadelphia with over 13 years of ICU experience. She has an extensive ICU background having formerly worked in the CICU and NICU at several major hospitals in the Philadelphia region. After earning her MSN in Education from Loyola University of New Orleans, she currently also teaches for several prominent Universities making sure the next generation is ready for the bedside. As a certified breastfeeding counselor and trauma certified nurse, she is always ready for the next nursing challenge.

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