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The Path To Becoming A Forensic Nurse

There are several nursing specialties you can go into once you have your registered nurse license. One of the most stand-out specialties in nursing is forensics. 

Whether you have had an encounter with a forensic nurse after a traumatic event, or have heard about this job in passing let’s talk about what a forensic nurse does and how to become one.

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What is a Forensic Nurse?

Forensic nurses are registered nurses who care for patients who are victims of abuse, trauma, or violence. 

They work to collect evidence after the crime while giving compassionate medical care. The job they do is essential in court cases, so they typically have a background in criminal justice. 

Forensic nurses work in sensitive subject areas and with vulnerable populations, making their job difficult but so important.

    Where Do Forensic Nurses Work?

    Thought the traditional setting for forensic nurses to work is in the hospital, particularly in the emergency room, there are several other facilities that hire forensic nurses including:

    • Community facilities that specialize in anti-violence
    • Correction facilities 
    • Psychiatric facilities 
    • Coroner’s and Medical Examiners offices
    • Crisis centers

    How do I Become a Forensic Nurse?

    Of course, first, you would need to have an unencumbered registered nursing license obtained by completing an accredited nursing program. 

    Though you can get a forensic nursing position with an Associate’s in Nursing, it is far easier with a Bachelor’s in Nursing or even a Master’s in Nursing. There are several Master’s programs that are focused on forensics. 

    Though not required, any program which requires formal forensics training is highly recommended. 

    There is not a specific certification to take to become a general forensic nurse which is why a strong bedside and criminal justice background is important. 

    Becoming a S.A.N.E. nurse for adults, pediatrics, or both is the only specialization certification available and requires completing the required training through the International Association of Forensic Nurses. You then have to sit for the adult and pediatric exams. 

    Specialties of Forensic Nursing

    Though forensic nurses might work with other types of victims, common specialties of forensic nurses are:

    • Sexual assault (S.A.N.E nurses)
    • Child neglect and abuse
    • Elder abuse 
    • Mass disasters
    • Domestic violence
    • Death investigation
    • Corrections

    How Much Money Do Forensic Nurses Make?

    The question about salary is often the question that always runs through your head when considering a new career. Of course, salary always depends on position, experience, and location among other facts, the salary for a forensic nurse is up to more than $90,000 annually. 


    Well, there you have it. A quick overview of becoming a forensic nurse.

    Have you thought about going into this specialty? Do you know an amazing forensic nurse? Let us know in the comments below!




    Katelyn Johnson

    Katelyn Johnson


    Katelyn has a Master’s in Healthcare Administration and five years of clinical experience. She has made the shift to full-time freelance writing and enjoys covering topics on nursing careers, lifestyle, and community. Her goal is to help start a conversation and spread awareness around the many ups and downs of the healthcare field.


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