Computer forensic specialists have been making headlines for many reasons in recent years. The need for these specialists is high, and that need is growing each year, helping to make this a great career opportunity for those who have an interest in technology and the law. The computer forensics salary, the interesting nature of the career, and the number of jobs the field offers and will be offering in the coming years are all reasons to start pursuing this career.
Those who are employed in the field may work with law enforcement or with private firms. The main duties are to retrieve information from computers and other types of electronic devices that store data. Today, specialists could work on laptops, digital cameras, tablets, smart phones, flash drives, and more. Computer forensics examiners use specialized tools to help them with this job, and they need to be able to stay on top of all of the new tools and technologies that are out there.
Part of the computer forensics job description could be to testify in court and to relate the evidence found during investigations. Often, those who are in the field will work with members of law enforcement, attorneys, and other forensic specialists to see how the evidence fits together in the case.
The job outlook for those who decide to follow this career path is quite bright. Because the world increasingly uses computers, it means that the world may need to have more specialists with the knowledge and know-how to handle the crimes that follow. The 2012 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report for information security analysts and computer system analysts, which have duties similar to forensic experts in computer information, show that there could be quite an impressive growth over the next 10 years. They project that job opportunities for people who are working in these fields is likely to increase by about 22 percent, which could mean more than 120,000 new jobs in the field.
Those who have an interest in the outlook for the career and who want to know more about the possibilities that it can offer will find a number of professional organizations that offer resources and information. The International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners (ISFCE), and the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS) are two.
The median salary for computer forensic examiners was around $75,660 in 2012, according to the BLS. Those in the lowest 10 percent earned as little as $43,190, while those in the highest 10 percent earned as much as $119,940 annually.
However, when considering salary, it is always important to remember that a number of disparate facts go into determining the pay for a job. The amount of experience and time in the field working as a specialist, as well as the type of work one is doing and the geographic location are all important factors. Having certifications can help as well when it comes to negotiating for a larger salary, as is evidenced later in the article.
After receiving a high school diploma, those who have an interest in the field should pursue a bachelor’s degree. Students today will be able to find a number of programs that can help them prepare for the field, including those that specialize in forensics and cyber security, as well as criminal justice. This field bridges the gap between those two realms. It is possible to find jobs in the field with an associate’s degree, but most of those who are working as a computer forensic specialist will have a bachelor’s degree. They will also have an appreciation and a love for computers and the desire to work through problems the right way and to see them to the end. People who pursue the field should also have a desire to see justice done.
Those who have certain certifications in the field, such as the CCE, or Certified Computer Examiner Certificate, will find it adds to the professionalism and list of credentials they can offer employers. It shows that the recipient is able to meet the high standards of the ISFCE. Other types of certification that many professionals in the field strive to obtain include the GCFA, or Global Certified Forensic Analyst, certification from Global Information Assurance Certification, and the CCFE, Certified Computer Forensics Examiner certificate. These options look good on resumes sent to potential employers and it garners faith in clients when private firms have forensic specialists who have these certifications.
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Overall, finding a bachelor’s, master’s degree or certificate in a forensics or criminal justice discipline may abet one’s professional goals, in addition to being an interesting path in a service-oriented career.