Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in California

California has the highest level of employment of forensic scientists in the country.  Over 1,700 such professionals were employed in the state in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Three cities in California were among those with the highest level of employment of forensic scientists.  Their rankings are listed below:

  • Los Angeles:  First
  • Riverside:  Seventh
  • Santa Ana:  Tenth

Growth in this field is expected to increase by 17.6% from 2010 to 2020 according to projections by California’s Employment Development Department.  They expect one hundred jobs a year to become available in the state.

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Salaries are also high in California.  Forensic scientists in California earned the second highest average salary of any state in the U.S.  The average wage in 2012 was $72,000 while experienced forensic science technicians made an average of $100,700 a year.

Sixty percent of the top ten paying cities for this field are located in California.  They are listed below along with their ranking and salary levels:

California City
Rank
Top 10th Percentile Salary
San Francisco
First
$115070
Los Angeles
Second
Estimate not released
Santa Ana
Third
$109960
Oakland
Fourth
$109420
Oxnard
Fifth
$98240
Stockton
Tenth
$86910

A large number of forensic scientists work in the field collecting evidence from crime scenes for further analysis.  These crime scene investigators (CSIs) hold a variety of positions, ranging from police detectives to civilian positions such as crime scene specialists or forensic lab technicians.

Starting salaries for 2013 for a number of civilian crime scene investigator positions throughout California are listed below:

CSI Position
California City
Crime scene specialist
San Bernardino County
Criminalist
Los Angeles
Forensic identification specialist
Los Angeles
Forensic specialist
Santa Monica
Forensic specialist II
Fremont

The BLS provides detailed information on the hourly and annual wages of forensic scientists and CSIs throughout the state.  It is shown in the table below:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Fresno CA
50
59300
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale CA Metropolitan Division
520
79220
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana CA
720
Estimate not release
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward CA Metropolitan Division
160
77060
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura CA
70
72600
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario CA
260
60550
Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville CA
100
61720
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos CA
70
Estimate not release
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont CA
260
80860
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City CA Metropolitan Division
100
87210
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine CA Metropolitan Division
200
77160
Stockton CA
30
64540

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