The job of forensic nurses combines their knowledge of health care and the legal system. However, their primary assigned to look after the victims of criminal abuse, domestic abuse, physical trauma, or death. Forensic nurse are different from regular registered nurses in that their job also involves collecting evidence and giving testimonies during legal proceedings. This nurse specialty started in 1992 upon the founding of the IAFN (International Association of Forensic Nurses) in Minneapolis. It was recognized by the American Nurses Association in 1995. The forensic nursing salary is usually a few dollars higher than that of a regular RN salary, around $1 to $4 higher per hour every time a forensic nurse is on-call for any emergencies. This is because a forensic nurse needed more education and advanced training than a regular nurse. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 26% growth rate for jobs in nursing, with forensic nursing being the fastest growing subspecialty from 2010 to 2020 . Keep reading for more information about forensic nurse salary and career requirements.
Forensic nurse job description
A forensic nurse is tasked to gather evidence for the sake of the judicial system as well as take care of the crime victims, provide counseling to children who have used guns, and look after the prisoners. Forensic nurse also investigates the cases of sexual assault victims and assist those who were taken to the emergency rooms.
Being an RN is a starting position for any forensic nurse. Forensic nurses are then trained as sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE), which allows them to handle cases of neglect, domestic violence, abuse, and trauma. Their duties usually include testifying in court, taking photos of the victims’ wounds, spotting which crime caused what injuries or death, and helping medical examiners working in the hospitals.
How much does a forensic nurse make ?
Average forensic nurse salary
The forensic nurse’s salary in the United States may be provided on an hourly basis, around $26 to $100, or case basis, usually around $150 to $400 per case, based on Salary.com. On a per hour basis, the annual forensic nursing salary ranges from $54,000 to $208,000 per year.
Forensic nurse salary in USA
The average forensic nurse’s salary in the US is around $57,990 to $79,696 per year, according to PayScale reports. But Salary.com reported that Clinical Nurse Specialists-Forensics earn a median salary of $87,801 per year. Entry-level positions pay around $73,399 per year, which is in the lowest 10% of the earners. The lowest 25% make $80,262, while the other 75% earn $95,522 per year. The top 10% highest paid forensic nurses earn $101,552 per year. Some of the benefits that come with the job are medical benefits, life insurance, and dental benefits. Weekend and night shifts have differential pay increases from most employers.
It’s quite hard to come up with a generalized forensic nurse’s salary because of how new this nursing subspecialty is. However, registered nurses who have received forensic training and hold a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) certification usually gets 1.5 times more than the normal hourly rate while doing forensic nursing work. However, some employers agree with the nurses to a flat fee per call for forensic nursing salary. These forensic nurse, along with those who have advanced qualifications in this profession, receives compensation at the high end of the RN pay scale. The BLS reported a mean annual wage of $67,930 per year for RNs, with the salary for the high earners reaching six figures.
Forensic nurse salary by state (USA)
To obtain a picture of the forensic nurse salary by state in the US, PayScale reports would help. A forensic nurse, or a clinical nurse specialist, working in California earns $85,200 to $139,995, while one in Texas makes $63,696 to $110,067 per annum. Ohio forensic nurses earn $47,917 to $97,436; Oklahoma forensic nurses make $49,493 to $108,496; New York-based forensic nurses get $50,576 to $107,659; and those working in Indiana take home $61,821 to $84,792 per year. The average forensic nurse’s salary is at the higher end of the nurse salary spectrum because of their higher educational requirements and the additional training that forensic nurse needs to take. This is why forensic nurse is paid $1 to $4 per hour more than practicing Registered nurse
Forensic nurse salary in Canada
The forensic nursing salary in Canada is based on the Payscale reports for a clinical nurse specialist, which also classifies one who specializes in forensics. A CNS earns an annual salary of C$61,463 to C$102, 190 per year, with their basic salary being C$59,598 to C$94,075. Some employers offer a bonus of up to C$250.
Experience helps determine the salary of forensic nurse or that of a nurse specialist. Those with five to nine years of experience under their belt make C$58,900 to C$87,500, while specialists who have at least ten years of experience earn C$83,378 to C$91,097 per annum.
Forensic nurse salary in Australia
In Australia, forensic nurse receives around AU$66,000 annual pay as of January 2011, which increased to AU$75,000 at the end of the year. This rose even higher up to around AU$79,000 as of December 2012. But for RNs who chose to specialize in forensics, the forensic nurse’s salary ranges from AU$45, 928 to AU$82, 052 per annum.
PayScale’s reports on the salary of a related occupation, a clinical nurse specialist, showed an annual salary of AU$52,805 to AU$89,455 per year. Their hourly rate is around AU$26.78 to AU$41.04 per hour, with an overtime pay of up to AU$56.97 per hour. Bonuses may be provided up to AU$1,454.
Forensic nurse salary in the UK
The median salary for forensic nurse is around £24,925 per year. But for clinical nurse specialists, the annual salary ranges from £23,718 to £53,725 per annum, with the median salary being £35,708. Nurse specialists actually earn a basic salary of £23,279 to £48,479 plus a bonus that may amount to £11,500.
Based on experience, nurse specialists make £27,469 to £38,951 after working for five to nine years in the business, while those who have worked longer earn £25,650 to £39,049 per year.
Forensic nurse salary in South Africa
In South Africa, the forensic nursing salary can be compared to that of a clinical nurse specialist, whose annual salary ranges from R228,408 to R368,532 per year. The median salary is around R248,699. A nurse specialist working in a general hospital makes around R229,248 to R363,933 per year.
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How to become a forensic nurse
To become a forensic nurse, one needs to be a registered nurse with a degree from an accredited institution. It could be a two-year Associate of Science Degree in Nursing or a four-year Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. The candidate has to pass the licensure exam to get a nursing license from the state where forensic nurse plans to practice. RNs don’t qualify as a forensic nurse unless they have at least three years of experience as an RN. Candidates may then take training in forensic nursing. This may take 12 credit hours distributed over two semesters. The IAFN offers two certifications – SANE-Adult/Adolescent and SANE-Pediatric.
A forensic nurse needs not only to look at the forensic nursing salary. The nurse has to be strong and sensitive at the same time, especially with their exposure to a lot of cases involving victims of sexual assault.
Conclusion about forensic nurse salary
Forensic nurse salary is higher than what RNs are paid for, which is around $31 per hour, or around $65,000 per year. The salaries differ greatly, but forensic nurse earns around $54,000 to $208,000 annually.