How to Become a Computer Forensics Technician

How to Become a Computer Forensics Technician

As computers and the Internet become major components of our daily lives, cyber crime becomes a growing concern. According to the 2008 Annual Report by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), complaints of online crime are at their highest ever, reporting an increase of over 33% from 2007. (1) This fact alone demands an increase in jobs in computer forensics. Computer forensics is the methodology of science in the investigation of computer crime. It’s an emerging field that combines aspects of law enforcement, computer science, accounting, and other disciplines to track down online criminals and mitigate the risk of future infractions.

What does a computer forensics technician do?

Computer forensics technicians handle a wide variety of computer security issues. They gather data from digital media, such as computers hard drives, personal digital assistants (PDAs), laptops, and thumb drives, to be used as evidence in criminal proceedings. They trace Internet protocol (IP) addresses to discover the identities of perpetrators of crimes against children, hackers, and thieves. They recover damaged file systems and combat malicious programs, such as viruses and worms.

Some computer forensics technicians employed by law enforcement agencies may be required to testify in court, and so must be able to prepare detailed written and oral explanations of their findings, including their methods of discovery. They may be called upon as expert witnesses in general proceedings or to provide specific evidence for a given case.

Computer forensics technicians are also hired by corporations, government agencies, and consulting firms to test and develop new security measures, which often involves mimicking criminal behavior in order to determine how to best combat it. Click here to learn how to become a computer forensics technician.

What kind of training does a computer forensics technician need?

Because this field is still so new, standards of computer forensics training are still under development. Typically, the minimum educational requirement for entry-level positions is the completion of a certificate program. However, more advanced degrees will usually result in greater opportunities for employment.

Law and Criminal Justice studies will provide a solid academic foundation, providing an in-depth understanding of investigative techniques and criminal procedures. Prospective technicians should also take significant coursework in computer science, and may supplement with classes in engineering or accounting.

As this field continues to develop, more specific training and qualifications are likely to be identified. Click here to find your path to a computer forensics technician career.

What are the prospects for a career in computer forensics?

Computer forensics careers are rapidly growing and is constantly adapting to changes in technology and electronic infrastructure. Employment rates for detective and criminal investigators, including computer forensics technician jobs, are expected to grow by over 13.3% (over 5,200 jobs), by 2016. (2)

How much do computer forensics technicians make?

Computer forensics technician salaries vary greatly, depending on the type of agency funding the position. In the public sector, which includes municipal, state and federal law enforcement, entry-level compensation is generally around $46,500 and tops out around $93,300. In the private sector, an entry-level computer forensic technician salary may be as high as six figures. (3)

Careers in computer forensics are diverse, fast-paced and highly challenging. These factors, combined with the potential to command a high salary, make this an exciting field to choose. Click here for a list of online computer science programs.

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