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Forensic Computer Analyst Career


What Is a Forensic Computer Analyst? 


From mobile phones to computer systems, digital devices all store information that can be useful in solving crimes. Forensic computer analysts scrutinize digital devices and networks to find images, text messages, documents, event records, system logs, cache files, and other digital information during cybercrime investigations. They may also collaborate with law enforcement officers and legal professionals to extract digital evidence in other types of criminal investigations such as embezzlement or fraud cases. Using intricate techniques such as reverse steganography and cross-drive analysis, forensics professionals decipher complex data to obtain meaningful insights about how, when, and why technologies were misused.

Computer forensic analysts work in a range of industries and settings. Some of the most common work environments include:  

  • Federal, state, and local government agencies 

  • Police departments  

  • In-house IT departments in private companies

  • Academic institutions

  • Consulting firms

  • Law firms 

  • Independent forensic analysis labs


What Does a Forensic Computer Analyst Do? 

On a day-to-day basis, computer forensics investigators perform a variety of tasks. Whether it involves sifting through network logs, extracting metadata from videos, or researching the latest data retrieval strategies, their primary goal is to uncover evidence that can be used in legal proceedings. Computer forensics professionals spend much of their time: 

  • Using forensic tools and techniques to locate hidden information on servers, hard drives, computers, networks, and mobile devices.
  • Restoring data that was intentionally or accidentally deleted from a device. 
  • Conducting in-depth analyses of digital assets to identify patterns and anonymous activity. 
  • Examining online resources containing supportive evidence, including internet message boards, social media profiles, and forums. 
  • Providing expert testimony regarding digital evidence in court. 
  • Creating reports detailing their forensic methodologies, findings, and conclusions. 
  • Translating complex digital information into jargon-free language that everyday individuals can understand. 
  • Collaborating with police officers, government officials, legal professionals, and other experts.
  • Researching the latest cyberattack strategies, forensic tools, and methods for uncovering digital information. 


How Do I Become a Forensic Computer Analyst? 

If you’re considering a forensic computer analyst job, then earning a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and information assurance, computer science, information technology, or a related field is a great place to start. A relevant bachelor’s degree will help you gain essential IT skills and a comprehensive understanding of operating systems, programming languages, network security, and data management. If you want to increase your skill set and qualify for advanced computer analyst positions, consider earning a master’s degree

Many employers seeking computer forensic analysts prefer or require certain professional certifications. You can earn certifications by passing exams that test your industry knowledge and expertise. Some universities also include professional certifications as a part of their degree programs at no extra cost. Additionally, you may need some general experience in the IT field to move into a computer forensic position. 

What Certifications Does a Forensic Computer Analyst Need? 

Professional certifications allow you to demonstrate your mastery of forensic methodologies and give you a competitive advantage over other job candidates. 

Some of the most advantageous IT certifications for forensic computer analysts include:  

  • Certified Forensic Computer Examiner
  • GIAC Advanced Smartphone Forensics
  • Certified Computer Examiner
  • Professional Certified Investigator
  • GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner 
  • Certified Cyber Forensics Professional
  • Certified Digital Forensics Examiner
  • Security+ (CompTIA) 
  • Cybersecurity Analyst Certification, CySA+ (CompTIA) 
  • Network+ (CompTIA)

Best Degrees for a Forensic Computer Analyst


Cybersecurity and Information Assurance – B.S.

Protect your career and earning potential with this degree....

Protect your career and earning potential with this degree.

  • Time: 60% of graduates finish within 29 months.
  • Tuition: $4,265 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 34 total courses in this program.

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

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Secure Systems Analysis & Design
  • Data Management
  • Web and Cloud Security
  • Hacking Countermeasures and Techniques
  • Digital Forensics and Incident Response

Cybersecurity and Information Assurance – M.S.

Become the authority on keeping infrastructures and information safe....

Become the authority on keeping infrastructures and information safe.

  • Time: 63% of graduates finish within 18 months.
  • Tuition: $4,555 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 9 total courses in this program.

Certifications in this program at no additional cost include:

  • CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)
  • CompTIA PenTest+
  • CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+) Optional Voucher
  • ISACA Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) Optional Voucher
  • (ISC)² Certified in Cybersecurity (CC)

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Cybersecurity Strategy
  • Information Assurance
  • Incident Response
  • Penetration Testing

The curriculum is closely aligned with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Workforce Framework. The 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.

How Much Does a Forensic Computer Analyst Make? 


The exact income of a forensic computer analyst can vary, depending on the industry, location, and other factors. The average annual salary for forensic computer analysts is $76,289, and base salaries range from $55,000 to $131,000. Analysts with post-graduate degrees and significant on-the-job experience can expect to earn higher salaries than entry-level computer forensics professionals.

What Is the Projected Job Growth? 


Employment of information security analysts, including forensic computer analysts, is expected to grow by 32% from 2022 to 2032; well above the average for all occupations. 

The risk of cybersecurity attacks and data breaches is a top concern for organizations in the U.S. and globally. Forensic computer analysts who can examine devices and indentify security vulnerabilities are in high demand. Computer forensics is also an increasingly crucial aspect of the evidence-gathering stage during criminal and civil legal investigations. 


What Skills Does a Forensic Computer Analyst Need? 

Computer forensic analysis is a highly technical field. The following skills allow forensic computer analysts to thoroughly investigate devices to find relevant information, communicate effectively with collaborators, and testify to the significance of the discovered data in court.

  • Technological proficiency. If you plan to become a computer forensic analyst, you’ll need a deep understanding of programming, network security, operating systems, cloud computing, and other computer fundamentals.
  • Interpersonal communication. Forensic analysts frequently collaborate with law enforcement officers, cybersecurity specialists, government agencies, IT professionals, and other parties involved in an investigation.
  • Research skills. The ability to consistently seek new and improved investigative techniques is fundamental to success as a forensic computer analyst. 
  • Public speaking. Computer forensic analysts are frequently asked to explain complicated information and articulate their thoughts and opinions to stakeholders, sometimes in court.
  • Attention to detail. Critical information may be hidden within complex lines of code or system logs, so thoroughness and close attention to detail are essential.   
  • Curiosity. Steadfast dedication to discovering information and a lifelong learning mindset allow computer analysts to persevere during complicated investigations. 

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