What Is the Salary for Someone in Digital Forensics?

Digital forensics specialists recover deleted or encrypted data from computers to assist in legal investigations. Salaries for these professionals depend on the industry in which you're employed, the state where you work and your education. Read on to learn more about a digital forensics career and to find out how much you might earn. Schools offering Computer Forensics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Duties

A digital forensics investigator is a specialist in the recovery, analysis and presentation of data found on computers being used as evidence in official investigations. These professionals determine the details of an intrusion into a computer system and complete various tasks, such as recovering important data from files that have been encrypted or deleted, retrieving erased email and finding deleted passwords.

Important Facts About Forensic Science Technicians

Job Outlook (2012-2022) 6% (for all forensic science technicians)
Required Education Bachelor's degree
Key Skills Understanding of math and science; ability to communicate efficiently, solve problems, and think critically; attention to detail
Similar Occupations Fire inspector and investigator, police, detective, biological technician

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Overview

Because of the relative newness of the field of digital forensics - also called computer forensics - finding salary information is difficult. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes computer forensics positions in its category for forensic science technicians (www.bls.gov). In May 2014, these professionals earned an average salary of $58,610. In addition, PayScale.com reported a median salary of $69,112 for forensic computer analysts in September 2015. Factors that affect the salary of a digital forensics professional include geographic location, industry, education and work experience.

Salary by Industry

According to the BLS, most forensic science technicians were employed by local and state governments in May 2014. These employers offered average wages of $57,800 and $58,880, respectively. A much smaller number worked for the best-paying federal government, which offered an average salary of $96,680. Forensic science technicians working for medical and diagnostic laboratories made $57,970 on average, while those working for psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals were paid a much lower average wage of $35,310.

Salary by Location

In May 2014, California and Florida employed the most forensic science technicians of all states and offered respective average salaries of $74,880 and $47,180, according to the BLS. On the other hand, Arizona and Maryland were states with the highest job concentration and paid respective average wages of $54,920 and $65,800.

In addition to California, the highest average pay was found in Illinois ($82,210), the District of Columbia ($78,090), Nevada ($70,300) and Massachusetts ($69,040), according to May 2014 BLS salary data. The lowest average pay was between $40,040 and $47,250. Some locations with pay in this range included Utah, Maine, Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina.

Training and Certification

Cybercrime is on the rise, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's 2008 Internet Crime Report. This has led to an increased need for Digital Forensics specialists, and several organizations have been established to provide training and certification for professionals in the field.

One of the most well-known of these organizations is the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists, which offers two avenues for achieving Certified Forensic Computer Examiner Certification. Those interested can complete either a two-week internal certification training program or undergo a testing process, which results in external certification.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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