Generally speaking, there are stark differences between the salaries of public sector forensic examiners and private sector forensic examiners. On the public/government side, there are several different types of examiners. These include police officers, civilian examiners working for law enforcement, military personnel, civilian examiners working for military, civilian contractors working for military and defense contractors, and examiners working for government regulatory (civil enforcement/non-criminal) agencies. Sworn law enforcement officers and military personnel are typically paid based upon prevailing union wages or pay scales, as opposed to market rates. Thus, often times these examiners are not paid based upon their experience and capability, their salary is pre-determined.
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Civilian examiners working for state and local law enforcement agencies often have starting salaries in the area of $50k to $75k. These salaries can fluctuate based upon security clearances, experience, and degrees and range up into the six figures for more qualified examiners. Private government contractors appear to pay on a similar scale, skewing toward the upper level of that range.
On the private side, there are a few different scales for different jobs. Significantly, geographical location matters when discussing salary. New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, London, amongst others, are computer forensic hot-spots. In these hot spots, the salaries will be somewhat higher than other geographic areas. Brand new forensic examiners with limited experience will often-times start in private consulting firms in the $50k to $60k range. Smaller firms will generally pay a little more than larger consulting firms, though the market is competitive for forensic examiners with experience, particularly private consulting experience. Managers of forensic teams in private consulting firms typically make in the six figures. Senior consultants' salaries will typically fall somewhere in between. Senior managers salaries will often fall in the mid $100,000 to $200,000 range. Partners at consulting firms, and owners of forensic firms, can make salaries far higher.