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Careers in Computer Forensics

Medha Godbole

Computer forensics is a recent addition to the plethora of career options available to young graduates. What with cyber crimes on the rise, there is a huge scope for skilled individuals in this field. Read on to know more...
Be it the TV series Crime Scene Investigation, Bones, or Criminal Minds, computer forensics experts have been shown to play a major role in crime investigation. Well, the TV portrayal notwithstanding, there is an increasing need for such experts due to the alarming rise in web-related crimes.
This is especially the case with personal computers, which can be easily hacked into or bugged. But this definitely does not mean that they do not contribute to the investigation of other crimes. Here is some more information on their roles and responsibilities.

Job Description

Job duties for computer forensics investigators include recovering data from hard drives, including those that have been damaged or erased. Also called computer forensics specialist, they recover data from digital media which can be of potential use in a criminal prosecution.
Digital media involves everything from desktops, laptops, PDAs, to the images, spreadsheets, and other types of files stored on these devices. They usually take custody of such equipment.
After the retrieval of the required data, a detailed and technical report is prepared based on the findings. This is then presented in the court, and in addition to that, the person has to testify in the court in connection with the recovered information.
Employment can be found in organizations as diverse as hospitality and gaming companies, educational institutions, energy firms, financial companies, government organizations, and law enforcement agencies. They may also work in tandem with a private investigator.

Entry Requirements

Various courses provide knowledge on incident handling, investigation management and detection. This field requires deep study on Internet crimes against adults and children. Many employers require the candidates to have a Bachelor's degree in Computer Information Systems or a related degree in computer science. These degrees usually require a 2 year study.
Some positions may require an advanced degree such as a Master of Science (MS) in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity. There are quite a few universities like the American Intercontinental University, Kaplan University, and a few others, which offer courses in this field.
An associate degree in addition to a law enforcement internship is normally good enough to be hired by the police department. Besides, they are expected to have good analytical and problem-solving skills.


Work Experience

Those with an experience of less than a year, can earn around USD 61,000 annually. Whereas those with an experience between 1 - 4 years, can make between USD 50,898 and USD 124,640 per annum. Senior professionals with an experience of 10 or more years can easily earn between USD 58,930 to USD 146,283 per annum. These figures are according to a 2018 study.

Type of Employer

The salary is greatly influenced by the organization the person is working for. For example, the U.S. federal government offered around USD 101,670 in 2016, whereas the state governments paid between USD 61,080 to USD 60,000 per annum. Those who worked for private companies having a huge number of employees, earned a sum of around USD 120,000 annually.
These jobs are suitable for those who have an eye for detail, enjoy working with data, and are adept in dealing with complex crimes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the highest growth for computer forensics experts in the field of forensic science, so this career certainly looks promising for the future.