Starting a Computer Forensics Career
Although relatively new, computer forensics is a growing career field. That's because computer crimes have increased so rapidly, that they've quickly become a fact of life. In turn, they've caused losses in the billions of dollars annually and continue to do so.
To start a computer forensics career, you'll likely need a computer forensics degree or a related degree (e.g., computer science, criminal justice or engineering) with computer forensics training tacked on, such as through degree major and minor options or post-degree certification. More information about computer forensics education and training is on the next page.
Practical knowledge and skills required depend on the computer forensics career niche you're targeting. But, technical and analytical skills are typically a must for all computer forensics careers. Knowledge and skills in a broad range of computer storage devices, operating systems, programming languages and software applications opens more doors. So does knowledge and skills in some to all of the following specifics.
- File formats
- Software drivers
- Networking, routing, communication protocols and security
- Reverse software engineering
- Investigative techniques
- Computer forensics tools, such as password crackers, email converters, or the EnCase or Forensic Toolkit (FTK) software applications
Real-world knowledge of the computer forensics career niche in which you are to specialize will likely open more doors too.
For example, if you are to specialize in providing evidence of computer crimes to law-enforcement agencies, then knowing the legalities of search and seizure, and the approved techniques for collecting and preserving evidence will likely be mandatory; if you are to specialize in helping banks secure their computer networks, then a knowledge of the banking business and an understanding of the financial "bottom line" will likely further your computer forensics career.
Some employers who hire career computer forensics experts are willing to accept equivalent knowledge and experience in place of education credentials or an advanced degree in place of experience.
To get an idea of what's commonly required by employers, try a search for computer forensics jobs and read the job descriptions. Information about searching for computer forensics jobs appears later in this article.