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How Long Does Becoming a FN Take

6 years

Average salary: FN



Forensic Nurse Career Guide

Become a forensic nurse if you have an interest in criminal justice and caring for crime victims. While obtaining evidence to assist law enforcement, forensic nurses give compassionate treatment to victims of violent crime, abuse, or neglect. They play an important role in both our healthcare and criminal justice systems by doing so. Forensic nurses can also serve their communities by collaborating with pathologists and coroners to determine the exact cause of death and guarantee proper reporting of vital data and epidemiological trends.



A forensic nurse assists crime victims in gathering medical evidence and providing expert testimony in court. Forensic nursing is a specialized field that combines nursing, science, and the judicial system. According to the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), they do considerably more than meet the medical and emotional requirements of victims. They also gather evidence, testify in court as a medical expert, and confer with legal authorities. Nurses are the ideal individuals to perform forensic positions since they are proficient in efficient communication, evaluation, and documentation.

Forensic nurses serve as a link between the legal and medical worlds. In the real world, forensic nurses work with a wide range of clients in a variety of situations. Hospitals, anti-violence programs, mental institutions, coroners' and medical examiners' offices, communities (after natural catastrophes), and penal facilities are among settings where forensic nurses can be found.

They may deal with sexual assault, domestic violence, abuse, and neglect victims, as well as psychiatric patients, law enforcement, courts of law, and public health organizations, in their many responsibilities. The following are some of the duties of forensic nurses:

  • Giving victims of violent acts and their families/significant others solace and psychosocial assistance

  • Physical injury treatment

  • Obtaining and maintaining admissible evidence (such as the victim's clothing, bullets, and other physical samples)

  • Assessment of alleged offenders and evidence collection as directed



Forensic Nurses earn an average of $30.61 per hour, or $73,985 per year, according to According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical annual pay for a registered nurse working in a hospital environment is $60,000. BLS also stated that  the median annual wage in May 2020 was $75,330, or $36.22 per hour. Forensic nurses make somewhat less than the average hospital nurse, although they typically work in the private sector, where income is lower.

Forensic nursing is a relatively young discipline, and pay for forensic nurses can vary substantially due to the variety of work environments. It's critical to conduct thorough research into your local region in order to learn more about career prospects and prospective salaries for various occupations. It's also crucial to discuss the expectations for being on-call with any potential employer, as well as the remuneration for such availability.


Salary and Projected Growth: 


How to Become a Forensic Nurse

Step 1: Earn your nursing degree

You must first complete one of the following courses:

  • A two-year associate's degree in nursing program (ADN)

  • A three-year diploma program in nursing (usually hospital-based)

  • Nursing bachelor's degree program at a four-year college or university (BSN)


Step 2: Pass the NCLEX-RN

Step 3: Gain experience

Employers of forensic nurses frequently prefer that you have prior clinical nursing experience. Nurses interested in forensic psychiatric nursing should have a background in medical-surgical, pediatric, or psychiatric nursing.

Step 4: Acquire a forensic nursing certificate program

Certificate programs can prepare you for the specific abilities required in this field. Programs in continuing education or nursing school post-graduate departments are examples.

Step 5: Finish an advanced degree program

There are additional master's and doctorate degree programs in forensic nursing available. These degrees will equip you for clinical forensic positions, teaching, legal nurse consulting, research, forensic psychiatric nursing (assessment of accused violent crime perpetrators), violence prevention initiatives, and other professions requiring collaboration with the criminal justice system. Keep in mind that obtaining an advanced degree in forensic nursing does not ensure that you will get a career in the field. You may need to be resourceful and lobby for a position that suits your skill set.

Step 6: Plan how you'll pay for your postgraduate degree.

It's understandable if deciding how to pay for nursing school seems difficult. Fortunately, there are several choices available to assist offset or reduce the expense, including grants, scholarships, and federal and private student loans. You can save money by refinancing existing student loans to a reduced interest rate if you're already paying them off.



Nursing employment is expected to expand at a pace of 9% through 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is faster than the national average. Furthermore, the aging of baby boomer nurses approaching retirement, as well as the increased health demands of boomers, are producing a current and forecast nursing shortage. This group of adults aged 65 and up has expanded fast, from 41 million in 2011 to 71 million in 2019—a 73 percent increase.

In addition to the increased need for nurses, our society is plagued by violent crime. Despite the fact that crime rates in the United States fluctuate, tens of thousands of Americans are victims of violent crime each year.


Continuing Education

Nursing license, certification, and advanced practice certification renewal procedures differ by state and credentialing organization. Keep your RN license and certification up to date by checking with your state board and professional association.


Other Resources

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