Forensic Freshman. Salary: $33,000 or less
You loved playing Nancy Drew, Girl Detective in third grade, and you're always looking for the little objects that suggest a crime to be solved. "Oh, there's Chuck's gum wrapper on the ground. That proves he was here at noon—seems fishy." That early love of crime-solving led you first to your two-year degree, then to your entry-level position with the local police department. You're still after Chuck. One day you'll put him away. One day...
Blood Splatter Analyst. Salary: $41,000
After nailing your chemistry grades at community college, one of the visiting professors recommends you to the medical examiner's office. You're incredibly excited for the opportunity until you realize you'll be analyzing blood splatter full-time. You might develop the stomach for it eventually, but if the amount of nausea you've felt during the first week is any indicator, you might need to consider finding another job soon.
Forensic Scientist. Salary: $54,000
You're the top (and the only) forensic scientist for the small town you grew up in. You're a big fish in a small pond, but you love that you wind up almost personally responsible for solving every murder that crops up each year. Even if there are only about two of them on average.
Expert Witness. Salary: $62,000
You're chief scientist and no longer get your hands dirty—everyone else does the grunt work and reports to you. But there's a trade-off: you're now the one who testifies in court...endlessly. You're not sure whether or not you want the bloody hair strands back.
CSI: Consultancy. Salary: $103,000 Life is good.
You're working as a consultant to all the CSI shows, giving them ideas for episodes, scenes, and characters. You're making a ton of money, but worry you'll need to go back to actual forensic work soon. After all, with so many shows out there, you're maybe starting to run out of ideas.