Also known as computer forensic science, computer forensics is the process of gathering and analyzing evidence found in computers and other digital storage devices. The evidence is then prepared for presentation in criminal or civil court. Compared to other career fields, the education requirements for becoming a computer forensics investigator or analyst may initially appear to be minimal. However, these positions tend to require job candidates to have received specialized training and to have obtained relevant certifications.
About Computer Science Forensics Degrees
Although it is possible to receive all requisite training on the job, individuals are increasingly seeking out computer forensics-related associates degrees to qualify for positions that may have minimal education requirements. Current law enforcement workers and security guards who wish to transition into the field of computer forensics are often candidates for educational certificate programs. Trade schools, two and four-year universities, community colleges, and online campuses offer associates degree programs that may benefit those who wish to work as computer forensics analysts and investigators.
While enrolled in an accredited computer forensics associates degree program, students can expect to complete basic courses in mathematics, English composition, humanities and fine arts, and communication as well as courses that are aimed at familiarizing them with the foundations of criminal justice, forensics and computer information literacy.
Individuals who wish to gain a more in-depth theoretical understanding of the principle that underlie computer forensics may wish to pursue a bachelor degree, which could include more comprehensive courses on computer networking, accounting, criminal procedure, and investigative techniques.
Computer Forensics Analysts and Investigators
Computer forensics investigators and analysts may also choose to pursue education beyond a four-year degree to specialize in their field or to qualify for positions that pay a higher salary or would otherwise advance their career.
Course requirements include cyberspace security, ethics and psychology, incident analysis, and additional courses on investigative procedure.
Computer Forensics Certifications
For workers who wish to advance their skill set but are unwilling or unable to complete a master’s degree program, becoming certified is also an option. There are several different certifications that are available to individuals who work in the computer forensics field.
The Computer Examiner certification (CCE) is issued by the International Society of Forensic Examiners.
The credential is well-recognized in the computer forensics industry and in the law enforcement community as one of the highest available certifications. Individuals who hold this credential have demonstrated a standard level of qualification to complete a variety of general analysis and investigative duties.
The certification process includes completing an exam that includes successfully completing questions in a multiple choice sections and analyzing assigned problems.
The Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator certification (CHFI) is issued by an organization that specializes in the areas of anti-hacking, computer forensics, and penetration testing. The organization offers a five-day course to help candidates prepare for the certification exam; however, applicants are permitted to take the exam without completing the course if they choose to do so.
Career Opportunities for Computer Forensics Degree Holders
Students who complete an educational program in computer forensics typically go on to work for law enforcement agencies or private investigative organizations.
Due to rapid growth in computer technology and cyber crimes, the computer forensics field is expected to experience job growth at a rate that is faster than the national average.
Despite anticipated job security, those who wish to pursue a career in computer forensics should seek out the best education programs available to increase their competitiveness as job candidates.
Programs are also offered at many other schools around the US.
Fortunately, many of the top schools allow students to take classes online, which may be helpful to those who are unable to relocate to attend a campus or who may also work full-time.