How important is getting a good and enjoyable job that has great salary potential and that is in high demand? For most people, these are the types of things that they seek when they are trying to find work and figure out what to study in school. Working in the technological field is a huge advantage today, and those who have skills and an interest in computers may find that becoming a certified computer forensics examiner (CCFE) is just the type of occupation they might like.
The field is growing quickly, and those who enter it will be able to use the latest state-of-the-art technology in an effort to thwart criminals. This can be an exciting career that also has the potential to pay well.
How fast are careers in information security growing? The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that information security analyst careers, the title that best matches the job description of a computer forensics examiner, are estimated to grow at a staggering rate of 31 percent between 2019 and 2029 (BLS 2020).
By comparison, in the same decade, the rate of growth for all other occupations is predicted to grow by 4 percent. The BLS estimates an impressive 40,900 fresh new positions will be needed in the next ten years. For more detailed information about career outlook and salary estimates for computer forensics examiners, please read our Computer Forensics Examiner Job Outlook and Salary article to learn more.
Many of those who study to become a CCFE go on to find highly technical positions working for various types of groups ranging from law enforcement to private firms. Becoming a certified computer forensics examiner could open additional and even unimagined occupational doors for those wanting to enter the field.
Those who are trying to receive CCFE certification should make sure they have the right background and education for the field. Different employers may require different levels of educational training. For example, some certified computer forensic examiners have only a high school diploma. CCFEs without an academic background in the field may have learned on the job in a police department as a sworn officer, undertaking computer forensics tasks out of necessity. Other employers may require that an applicant have a bachelor’s degree in computer forensics, computer science, or criminal justice.
It is always a good idea to have a solid education in the field of computer forensics—either through schooling or on-the-job training—before trying to become a certified computer forensics examiner.
Those who are going to take the CCFE exam should have certain skills and courses under their belts that will help them to earn the certification. Some of the most common types of courses that people take include cryptography, forensic analysis, computer networks, and accounting fraud.
In addition, familiarity with various types of forensic software, such as EnCase Forensic may be a good idea because it will help students to be even more knowledgeable about the computer forensics field and better prepared for pursuing computer forensics certification.
Many schools offer computer forensics degrees that could be helpful in passing the CCFE test. Missouri Southern State University, for example, offers a computer forensics degree that consists of a double major and culminates in bachelor’s degrees in both computer information science and criminal justice administration. This degree program prepares graduates to work as computer forensic investigators for local, state, or federal law enforcement agencies, private computer investigative detective work, or working for information security teams in the private sector. All students complete a required internship to gain hands-on experience.
Students that want to focus more heavily on the security aspect of computer forensics could consider Utica College which offers a bachelor of science (BS) degree in cybersecurity and information assurance. Students who enroll in this program are able to choose a concentration in cybercrime investigations and forensics, which could be quite useful in learning the skills necessary to earn the CCFE certification.
This degree program can be completed on-campus or online for transfer students and prepares students for information security careers through courses in criminology, criminal justice, and computer science. Utica also offers an online master’s degree program in cybersecurity.
The certified computer forensic examiner certification is an exam and not a program, per se. The exam that candidates take tests skills and knowledge that they’ve already gathered through academic or on-the-job training. The CCFE exam comes from the Information Assurance Certification Review Board (IACRB) and consists of two different parts: a multiple-choice and true/false test that candidates take online and a take-home test of practical skills.
Although there is not a dedicated CCFE training program there are schools such as Champlain College, that provide online training in computer forensics that could be helpful in passing the exam to receive this certification. In fact, this military-friendly school’s bachelor’s degree program is entirely online and was named one of five finalists for the Best Cyber Security Higher Education Program in 2018 by SC Magazine.
As well, Champlain College consistently ranks on the US News & World Report’s list of best online bachelor’s programs and holds the designation as a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence by the Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) Air Force Office of Special Investigations and is only the fifth college in the nation to earn this distinction.
Check out this detailed guide to computer forensics degree programs.
Any campus-based or online program, or a combination of the two, could help computer experts to train to test for your CCFE.
Whether or not an aspiring CCFE chooses to complete an academic program prior to preparing for the CCFE, it will be critical to dedicate time to studying for the exam specifically. Upon registration for the CCFE exam, examinees are provided with a detailed study guide that will help them to organize their study time.
In addition, there is a range of sources online, including online programs such as the InfoSec Institute’s Computer Forensics Boot Camp, or the Intense School computer forensics boot camp. These programs do not lead to an academic degree but can help students to train for and pass the CCFE exam.
The CCFE exam is offered through the IACRB, which certifies information security professionals and many others working in the field. The multiple-choice exam has 50 questions, and candidates have two hours to complete that portion of the test.
Candidates must pass the first part of the test before they can proceed to the second part of the test, which is the practical exam. For this portion, candidates will receive mock files from a forensics case that they will use to complete an examination and write a report that could be submitted as evidence in a court of law, as they would in real life. Candidates have 60 days to complete the practical portion of the test and return it. If they pass, they receive certification.
The CCFE exam follows nine domains:
Having IACRB certification provides several benefits to professionals and employers. Professionals can stand out in competitive job applicant pools and perhaps use certification to negotiate higher salaries. For employers, hiring IACRB certified professionals encourages standards of excellence for the field and guarantees stakeholders that their information security is in the hands of highly competent people.
Rachel Drummond is a freelance writer, educator, and yogini from Oregon. She’s taught English to international university students in the United States and Japan for more than a decade and has a master’s degree in education from the University of Oregon. Rachel writes about meditation, yoga, coaching, and more on her blog (Instagram: @racheldrummondyoga).