Computer crime is one of the fastest growing crime areas worldwide. Computer forensics is a forensic science discipline that focuses on investigating legal evidence found on computers and other digital technologies. Computer forensics investigators are trained professionals that perform investigation activities of computer-related crime incidents.
What does a computer forensics investigator do?
Computer forensics investigators specialize in investigating computer crimes such as network hacking, identity theft, illegal downloading of copyrighted material, and harassing emails. They recover, examine, and present a variety of data obtained from computers, PDAs, digital cameras, cell phones, USB storage devices, and hard disks to use as evidence in investigations. They recover deleted information such as passwords and emails, recover data from erased and encrypted files, and identify the details of intrusions. Computer forensics investigators are usually responsible for preparing detailed reports on their findings that will be presented in court. Sometimes computer forensics investigators are required to testify in court to describe the information they obtained and the techniques they used to find the information.
What kind of training does a computer forensics investigator need?
Computer forensics investigators typically need at least a bachelor degree in computer forensics, cyber crime, computer science or other related field. Those interested in computer forensics who do not want to earn an advanced degree may enjoy a career as a computer forensics technician. Many computer forensics investigators begin their careers in military or law enforcement positions. Prospective computer forensics investigators typically complete courses in investigation, management, incident handling, Internet crime, network security, and accounting. Many students complete internships while pursuing their education to gain practical experience in the field. Most employers provide on the job training where new computer forensics investigators learn the essential investigative methods and policies and procedures. Some states require computer forensics investigators to be licensed private investigators. Computer forensics investigators must keep up with the rapidly changing technologies. They regularly complete continuing education and additional training throughout their careers.
What are the prospects for a career as a computer forensics investigator?
Employment of computer forensics investigators is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 18% through 2016 (1). Technological advances and increased demand for investigation of computer crime will drive job growth.
Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for computer forensic investigators that are highly qualified and have extensive experience.
How much do computer forensics investigators make?
As of 2012, the average annual salary for computer forensics investigators is $80,000; average annual computer forensics investigator salaries vary greatly on location, industry, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).
A career as a computer forensics investigator is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in investigating computer crime. Computer forensics investigators must have a solid understanding of computer science and related criminal activities. Confidence, assertiveness, persistence, determination, and good problem solving skills are essential characteristics. Computer forensics investigators must have excellent communication and ability to work as part of a team. They must not be afraid of confrontation and be able to think quickly on their feet.