Forensic Computer Analyst Career Guide
As technology evolves, cybercrimes involving the use of technology seem to evolve as well. The field of computer forensics is responsible for examining the use of technological devices—and any of their stored data—to assist law enforcement in solving these crimes.
An important part of many modern criminal investigations, a forensic computer analyst collects and analyzes relevant data from digital devices. Analysts work in tandem with law enforcement officers to obtain useful data from devices used by suspects, victims, or other parties of interest.
If you’re someone interested in both criminology and computer science, ready to put your digital skills to work keeping your area safe, a career as a forensic computer analyst could be perfect for you.
Whether it’s a mobile phone or a computer system, devices can store information useful in solving modern crimes. Forensic computer analysts examine this information, including any relevant images, text messages, emails, documents, and any other data law enforcement officers might find useful in furthering a criminal investigation.
If you’re aspiring to become a forensic computer analyst, you will most likely need to obtain a relevant undergraduate degree. You will also benefit from any years of experience spent working in the field of criminal justice.
On a day-to-day basis, forensic computer analysts perform a variety of tasks. Whether sifting through digital data or communicating with law enforcement officers, the role of a forensic computer analyst involves large investigative and communication components.
The exact responsibilities of a forensic computer analyst can often include:
- Using available forensic tools to comb devices in search of data relevant to a criminal investigation
- Performing general investigations on devices that could be linked to criminal activity
- Examining any online resources linked to the crime, including internet message boards, social media profiles, forums, and other publicly-available data
- Searching for files stored on devices that could have been deleted or otherwise hidden by the device’s original user
- Assisting detectives with the technological portions of any investigation
- Testifying to the relevance of particular data found on a computer, tablet, cell phone, or another device
- Transitioning any found data to secured law enforcement servers, and converting corrupt, large, or complex files into more user-friendly formats
These and other responsibilities complete the role of a forensic computer analyst. As a forensic computer analyst, you are often involved in many of the important steps of a case, from evidence collection to an individual’s arrest, trial, and verdict.
In addition to any educational requirements, you might need to obtain a few certifications before you begin work as a forensic computer analyst. These certifications display your understanding of a specific platform, software, or ability, and can further qualify you to hold a forensic computer analyst position.
Certifications you might need as a forensic computer analyst can include:
- Security Analytics Professional (CompTIA)
- Security+ (CompTIA)
- Project+ (CompTIA)
- PenTest+ (CompTIA)
- IT Operations Specialist (CompTIA)
- Secure Infrastructure Specialist (CompTIA)
- ITIL®1 Foundation
- Network Vulnerability Assessment Professional (CompTIA)
- Network Security Professional (CompTIA)
- Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) – Associate of (ISC)² designation
- Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) – Associate of (ISC)² designation
- A+ (CompTIA)
- Cybersecurity Analyst Certification, CySA+ (CompTIA)
- Network+ (CompTIA)
Before you can fulfill a role as a forensic computer analyst, you will need to complete a few educational requirements. A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and information assurance is an ideal place to start. This type of degree will give you important skills and experience working with network security, software systems, programming languages, and computer forensics. It will be vital to understand how IT works along with the data privacy and network security that will be crucial in preparing for this type of career. Additionally you may need some experience in the field to move into a computer forensic position, so internships and entry-level positions can be key to preparing you to move up in your career.
Cybersecurity and Information Assurance – B.S.
Protect your career and earning potential with this degree....
Protect your career and earning potential with...
Protect your career and earning potential with this degree.
- Time: 70% of graduates finish within 29 months.
- Tuition and fees: $4,245 per 6-month term.
Some careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:
- Cyber crimes investigator
- Director of cybersecurity
- Chief of cyber counterintelligence
- Cybersecurity engineer
- Cyber operations planner
Certifications included in this program at no extra cost include:
- Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) - Associate of (ISC)2 designation
- Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) - Associate of (ISC)2 designation
- ITIL® Foundation Certification
- CompTIA A+
- CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst Certification (CySA+)
- CompTIA IT Operations Specialist
- CompTIA Network+
- CompTIA Network Vulnerability Assessment Professional
- CompTIA Network Security Professional
- CompTIA PenTest+
- CompTIA Project+
- CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist
- CompTIA Security+
- CompTIA Security Analytics Professional
Cybersecurity and Information Assurance – M.S.
Become the authority on keeping infrastructures and information...
Become the authority on keeping infrastructures...
Become the authority on keeping infrastructures and information safe.
- Time: 70% of graduates finish within 22 months.
- Tuition and fees: $4,590 per 6-month term.
- Certifications: cost of two EC-Council certs, included.
The curriculum is closely aligned with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Workforce Framework, plus includes the opportunity to earn these certifications:
- EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker
- EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)
This program was designed in collaboration with national intelligence organizations and IT industry leaders, ensuring you'll learn emerging technologies and best practices in security governance.
No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!
Every day, forensic computer analysts depend on certain skills. A defined skill set helps each forensic computer analyst to communicate effectively in the field, thoroughly investigate an individual’s devices, and testify to the importance of device data in court.
The exact skills a forensic computer analyst needs could include:
- Interpersonal communication: The ability to correspond effectively with law enforcement officers, forensic analysts, and any other parties involved in an investigation
- Technological proficiency: The ability to understand and fully use any technological device involved in a crime, in addition to any online resource, tool, or platform
- Attention to detail: The ability to focus on small details on an individual’s device usage habits, to tie their activity to any potential criminal intent
- Problem-solving: The ability to offer creative solutions to technology-related problems and issues you may face before, during, or after an investigation
- Public speaking: The ability to clearly articulate your thoughts and opinions, especially in a court of law
- Research: The ability to deeply investigate device data, and constantly seek new and improved investigative techniques that can further hone your investigative skills
These and other skills make forensic computer analysts indispensable to many law enforcement divisions.
How Much Does a Forensic Computer Analyst Make?
The exact income of a forensic computer analyst can vary, depending on several factors. These can include their employer, employer’s location, employer’s public or private funding, years of experience, and active certifications.
In general, the salary of a forensic computer analyst averages $74,896, with a range of roughly $50,000 to $119,000 earned each year.
What is the Projected Job Growth?
Total employment of information security analysts is expected to grow 31% from 2019 to 2029. This steep forecasted growth rate is well above the average for all occupations, and represents a favorable job outlook in future years.
The potential for cybersecurity attacks or breaches is one reason why the demand for forensic computer analysts is expected to remain high. With the continually high threat of cybersecurity risks comes a corresponding need for qualified forensic computer analysts, who can examine devices to determine how and why a crime occurred.
Where Do Forensic Computer Analysts Work?
Computer forensic analysts can work in a variety of different locations. As a computer forensic analyst, you will serve law enforcement in fulfilling specific technological needs. Sometimes, you might be onsite at the scene of a crime. Other times you might work out of an office or even a courtroom.
Forensic computer analysts might work in locations that include:
-Federal government agencies
-Local or state government agencies
-City police departments
-Independent forensic analysis labs
-Various crime scenes