What Jobs Can I Get in Computer Forensics?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in computer forensics. Read on to learn more about career options along with information about where computer forensics specialists work and what education is required. Schools offering Computer Forensics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Career Options for Graduates in the Field of Computer Forensics?

Computer forensics involves collecting and analyzing digital data to be used as evidence in a criminal proceeding. Two of the possible career options in this field include computer forensics technician and information security analyst.

As a computer forensics technician, you will work to expose a number of computer-related crimes such as identity theft and fraud. You will also be expected to follow the same laws and procedures as any other forensic scientist when it comes to gathering evidence for an investigation. You will also write reports which are expected to include great detail into your investigations as well as communicate effectively with attorneys and detectives. You should also be prepared to testify in court if needed.

As an information security analyst, you will install software to protect your organization's computer networking systems. In this career, you will need to prevent cyber attacks and hacking as much as possible by continually updating software, running tests to check for weaknesses and communicating with others to recommend new security measures. It will also be important for you to keep up with the latest technology security software through research, which may require you to attend conferences on cybersecurity.

Learn more about this field from the following chart.

Computer Forensics Technician Information Security Analyst
Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's Bachelor's
Education Field of Study Computer forensics Computer science or programming
Key Responsibilities Identifying security threats, testing crime-prevention systems, analyzing electronic information for use as evidence Preventing and simulating cyber attacks; monitoring for breaches; documenting and investigating breaches
Job Growth (2014-24) 27% (much faster than average) for all forensic science technicians* 18% (much faster than average)*
Median Salary (May 2015) $56,320 for all forensic science technicians* $90,120*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Get Your Computer Forensics Degree

Before you start looking for computer forensic jobs, you'll need to get your degree. Computer forensic degree programs are found at several degree levels or as concentrations within a broader degree. Two popular formats are the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. Both types of programs are interdisciplinary in nature, involving coursework in information technology, computer science, criminal justice and forensic science.

An associate's degree program in computer forensics is designed to prepare you for entry-level technician positions in the data recovery and computer forensics fields. You'll study information technology concepts, such as computer design, network architecture and computer hardware and software configuration. You'll also learn about the criminal justice system and the procedural methods of presenting criminal evidence.

At the bachelor's degree level, you'll start to explore more advanced topics in computer forensics. You'll study data mining and database design. You'll learn how to identify and prevent digital security threats and how to use forensic software tools. You'll spend a lot of time in the computer lab, and your program will probably include an internship, where you'll work in a computer forensics capacity for course credit. A smattering of liberal arts and humanities electives will round out the curriculum.

Where Do Professionals Work?

Computer forensics specialists are employed in a wide variety of corporate, government, military and law enforcement dynamics. Wherever sensitive or proprietary digital information is stored, there is a potential need for a computer forensic specialist. Employers may seek candidates with specific certifications, offered by several professional associations.

What Job Duties Might I Have?

You may spend some of your time identifying network and computer system security threats. You might also be responsible for testing existing cyber crime prevention systems to ensure system integrity. You'll collect, recover and analyze electronic information which may be used as evidence in a court of law. You might even be called upon to offer expert testimony regarding your findings.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

One possible related career would be that of a computer programmer. As a programmer, you would be able to work with computers through writing and updating programs, running tests and creating code. Most employers prefer to hire computer programmers who have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a similar field, though it may be possible to find a position with an associate's degree. Another potential position would be that of a computer network architect. As a computer network architect, you will create a variety of communication networks based on your organization's business goals. You will create layouts for these communication networks, deliver these plans to your management team, update computer hardware and research and plan for new technologies for the future. Computer network architects are expected to have a bachelor's degree in information technology, engineering or a similar field, though in some cases an MBA is preferred as well.

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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