Computer Forensics Specialist

How to become a Computer Forensics Specialist

Computer forensics investigators are relatively new to the criminal justice scene, but are they beginning to be seen as critical assets to companies as instances of cyber crime continue to rise. Computer forensics refers to the investigation of computer crime. It combines aspects of law enforcement and computer science to track down criminals and stop future crimes from occurring.

A computer forensic specialist might be responsible for:

  • Recovering, analyzing, and presenting computer data for use in investigations and as evidence
  • Uncovering information that cannot be accessed by the ordinary user, including erased files
  • Detecting intrusions into computer systems
  • Investigating all forms computer media

Data recovered by computer forensics specialists could be used as evidence in many different types of cases. These might include (but are not limited to):

  • Unauthorized access to confidential information
  • Destruction of information
  • Corruption
  • Sexual harassment
  • Fraud
  • Blackmail
  • Industrial espionage
  • Copyright infringement
  • Piracy

Computer Forensics Specialist Education Requirements

Computer forensics is a relatively new field, so qualifications for jobs vary across agencies. Most computer forensics specialists have, however, earned at least a bachelor’s degree in information systems, computer systems security, or cyber crime and have extensive background working with technology and computers. Some computer forensics specialists also have a law enforcement or military background.

Because technology is continuously changing and updating, computer forensics will be a competitive job market. In order to stay ahead of competition, computer forensics specialists need to stay on top of the newest technology and strategies used within the field.

Job Outlook for Computer Forensics Specialists

The proliferation of criminal activity on the internet has heightened the need for computer forensic specialists. The 2008 Annual Report by the Internet Crime Complaint Center states that complaints of online crime are at their highest ever. This is a 33% increase from previous years. Because of this, computer forensics career opportunities are popping up everywhere. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer forensics jobs are expected to grow over 13.3% by 2016.

Computer forensics specialists can expect to earn a salary of around $46,500 for entry level positions. This salary will grow with education and experience.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-2009 Edition, and the 2008 Annual Report by the Internet Crime Complaint Center, http://www.ic3.gov/media/2009/090331.aspx