Computer Forensics Schools and Education
- Find a Computer Forensics School
- Find Computer Forensics Education Requirements and Information
- Find Computer Forensics Career Salary Information
Computer crime is one of the fastest-growing types of crime in the world. With the Internet expanding, and email, social networks, ecommerce and texting so common, personal and corporate computers, cell phones and tablets, and other hand-held devices have become extremely vulnerable to attack. This has created an increased need for computer forensics analysts and investigators.
What Do Computer Forensics Investigators Do?
Computer forensics investigators are taught to combat crimes ranging from crimes against children to file system recovery on hacked or damaged computers. Computer forensics investigators—also known as a computer forensics specialists—recover data from digital media that may be used in criminal proceedings. Digital media refers to all methods of electronic data storage and transfer devices including computers, laptops, cell phones, PDAs and the documents, images, spreadsheets and other types of files stored on these devices. Once a computer forensics investigator retrieves the necessary information, they'll prepare detailed written reports on the collected data that may later be presented in court. Part of a computer forensics investigator's job is to testify in court regarding the information they recover and the methods they used to get that information.
Computer forensics consulting firms and freelance computer forensic investigators are also hired by large corporations to test the security of their information systems. Computer forensic specialists may mimic how a malicious hacker might attempt to gain access to a corporation's computer network. But the best place to get the education you need is in computer forensics school.
Requirements to Become a Computer Forensics Investigator
Computer forensics is a relatively new field, so there have not been consistent requirements to become an analyst. Many individuals get their computer forensics skills by working in law enforcement or the military. Now that more colleges are offering computer forensics degrees and related information systems (security degrees/cyber crime degrees), education has become an important requirement to stay competitive in the industry. This includes continuing education once you've found a job to stay current in this rapidly changing field.
Computer Forensics Education
We put together a collection of the skills you should look for in your computer forensics program to prepare you for a career in computer forensics. We consulted with leaders in the field of computer forensics and compiled their thoughts. Here's what they had to say:
Individuals should take courses in incident handling, investigation, management, protection, detection and reaction. They should study Internet crimes against people and children, learn about presenting digital evidence at trial, network security intrusion and detection, personal digital device forensics and advanced-file system recovery. Law and business are also critical to success in a computer forensics career.
One individual emphasized that a comprehensive knowledge of UNIX and NT is essential to retrieving deleted files and evidence of breaches in system security. We were also told that advanced knowledge of networking and routing has become increasingly important with the growth of the Internet and email.
All of the people we spoke with agreed that individuals with a desire to become computer forensics investigators should begin by earning a degree in computer forensics or a related degree such as information systems security or cyber crime.
Information systems security and computer forensics degrees are offered at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. An associate's degree along with a law enforcement internship is sometimes enough to be hired by a police department as a computer forensics investigator. Associate's also transition well into bachelor's degrees. Graduate degrees are usually 2-year programs and may advance your career and increase your salary in computer forensics. Some computer forensics careers require certifications such as, CISSP, CISM, CISA or CCSP.
Computer Forensics Investigator Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2012-13 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for information security analysts is $75,660. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. Freelancers and those working in consulting firms can earn even more and the BLS estimates that 17 percent of those analysts working are self-employed.
Request information from the accredited online schools below. The degree programs offered here may provide you with the skills to succeed as a computer forensics investigator.
Online Criminal Justice Schools
- Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) - Computer and Information Security (Online)
- PhD in Business Administration - Computer and Information Security (Online)
- Master of Business Administration (MBA) - Computer and Information Security (Online)
- Master of Science (M.S.) in Information Technology (Online)
- BSIT/Information Systems Track - Information Security and Forensics (Online)
- Associate's - Network Security
- Bachelor's - Network Security
- Bachelor of Information Technology - Digital Investigation (Online)
- Bachelor of Information Technology - Information Assurance and Security (Online)
- Master of Information Technology - Information Assurance and Security (Online)
- Bachelor of Science in Information Technology - Security (Online)
- Doctor of Computer Science in Digital Systems Security - Executive Format (Online)
- Doctor of Computer Science in Information Assurance - Executive Format (Online)
- Master of Science in Computer Science - Computer Systems Security (Online)
- Master of Science in Information Technology - Security Management (Online)
- Master of Science in Information Security - Technical Track (Online)