Forensic Computer Analyst Career Information
The demand for forensic computer analysts is quite high in many different industries which include the federal government, law enforcement agencies, and even private investigative companies. These individuals work to retrieve data that has been deleted from devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets for use in court cases or for protecting national security.
Daily Job Requirements
A forensic computer analyst works in a laboratory in a climate-controlled setting. They handle computers and other devices that are collected as evidence from crime scenes or from suspects’ homes and places of employment according to a strict set of protocols. The computer analyst searches the device for information that could link the owner or the user to a crime, or for information that could potentially exonerate a suspect. They are very rarely asked to travel to a crime scene to collect the evidence; this usually only happens in smaller cities and counties where a single forensic analyst has many roles.
Required Education and Skills
A bachelor’s degree in digital or computer forensics, or in computer security, is required in order to become a forensic computer analyst. Individuals who are interested in this field will need outstanding analytical skills, the ability to communicate well, writing and reading comprehension skills, and above-average knowledge of computers and other devices. Knowledge of software such as iLook, Encase, Forensic Toolkit, and others is also a plus. These individuals must have strong ethics, and in many cases, they must be able to pass background checks before being employed with local law enforcement agencies.
Though certification is not an absolute necessity for finding employment, most employers prefer candidates who have received certificates from one of several groups. These include the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS) which offers the CFCE, or Certified Forensic Computer Examiner, certification. A Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) certification is offered by the International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners to those who can pass a four-part intensive test. Finally, the Global Information Assurance Certification group, or GIAC, offers up the Certified Forensic Analyst certification to candidates who can pass a 115-question examination.
All of the above certifications require annual ongoing education; a certain number of hours is required to maintain certification or to re-certify as a forensic computer analyst. It is always a great idea to become certified and meet the education requirements because individuals will need to remain up-to-date on the latest technology and software in order to remain competitive in the job market. The amount of ongoing education that is required depends on the certifying group, and some of them require retesting once each year.
If you want to be a strong competitor in the fierce job market associated with forensic computer analysts, then you should consider obtaining a master’s degree in a field like computer or digital forensics. You can even choose certain electives that will allow you to focus on the industry in which you are employed, including criminal justice. This way, you can demonstrate your proficiency and have a good shot at landing an entry-level position.