How To Become Computer Forensic Scientist (With Steps and Skills)

A computer forensic investigator, also referred to as a forensic investigator, computer forensics analyst, and digital forensics examiner (among others), will spend most of their time gathering, analyzing, and investigating digital data and computer evidence. Earning a computer forensics degree is an important step to entering this rapidly growing field.

Computer forensic investigators work within local, state, national, and international law enforcement agencies, as well as within personal investigation firms. The duties of a computer forensics investigator will vary depending on which of these types of organizations they are employed by.

A bachelor’s degree in computer forensics or a similar area is generally required to become a computer forensics investigator. This degree will provide you with a foundation in investigation and computer use, emerging technologies, and techniques used in the industry.

How to become a Digital Forensics Investigator | EC-Council

What does a computer forensic scientist do?

A computer forensic scientist extracts digital artifacts that uncover a security incident or the activity of a lawbreaker. They retrieve and find evidence to support criminal cases and legal proceedings and collect and analyze data to uncover and prosecute electronic fraud, scams, terrorism, espionage, hacking or identity theft, for example.

Computer forensic scientists often work in more specialized fields to examine cybercrime, including malware, network, cloud and database forensics. They prepare reports to detail findings and the process of the investigative methods used and explain these reports to lawyers, detectives and other officials. They also protect the integrity and chain of command of the digital evidence.

Some of the daily duties of a computer forensic scientist include:

You may work alone or as part of a team, depending on the case or place of employment, and you may handle more than one case at a time.

Computer forensic scientists also can use digital data to help solve physical crimes, too. For example, there may be digital evidence of an email, text message or voicemail that offers a confession to a crime or the internet search history of a person of interest can reveal culpability to a crime or wrongdoing. Even in this line of digital evidence collection, you follow the same strict standards to protect the integrity of evidence for all investigations and legal cases.

What is a computer forensic scientist?

A computer forensic scientist is a professional investigator of digital artifacts. They work with various electronic devices to find evidence of wrongdoing or to establish best practices to prevent it. As a computer forensic scientist, you may also work with these devices, systems or components:

Most computer forensic scientists have roles in the criminal justice field, though almost any industry that uses a computer system can have a need for a computer forensic scientist. As a computer forensic scientist, you may work for:

This position often has several other job titles, depending on the location, agency or firm. Here are some examples:

Skills of a computer forensic scientist

An interest in technology is key for a successful career as a computer forensic scientist, along with a mix of technical, functional, hard and soft skills. Here are some other top ones to develop or hone:

How to become a computer forensic scientist

There are several paths to becoming a computer forensic scientist and a mix of education and hands-on experience can be helpful. Here are six steps to take to start a successful career in this field:

1. Earn a higher education degree

Consider applying to accredited colleges and universities to earn a bachelors degree in computer science, engineering, computer forensics, cyber security or digital forensics. You can also explore earning an associate degree with a community college and then transferring to a four-year school. Common computer forensics programs focus on what to do after crimes occur and courses typically include:

Students earning a computer forensics degree may also need to do an internship or practicum to gain hands-on experience that applies what you learned in the classroom.

You can consider earning a masters degree in digital forensics or cybersecurity to have a further competitive edge as a job candidate or if you want to explore higher-level roles, like management or teaching, for example.

2. Pursue licenses and certifications

Certifications and licenses are often optional and while not always required, many organizations look favorably upon those who have them. Certification exams may vary, though overall you show your understanding of ethical and legal matters and issues in digital forensics, prove you can use industry tools and showcase how to recover evidence from a computer or digital device hard drive.

Here are some licenses, certifications and programs to consider pursuing as a computer forensic scientist:

3. Join industry organizations

To network with other professional computer forensic scientists or potential employers, consider joining industry organizations. You can find mentorship opportunities or jobs, grow your network of contacts, attend seminars and conferences or continue learning through association offerings. Here are some organizations to explore:

4. Apply for jobs

Explore your preferences of working for a private company or public sector and research job opportunities you are interested in or match your qualifications. You can look for jobs through your colleges department program, career guidance office, job boards, opportunities posted on industry websites and online platforms or through professional associations. Consider letting friends, family and industry contacts know you are seeking employment opportunities, too, as referrals are a good way to secure job interviews.

It is important to know sometimes relevant work experience can supplement educational requirements, so be sure to review job postings.

5. Get on-the-job training

While your education and level of experience is the foundation of your qualifications and experience, most employers also have on-the-job training sessions to teach specifics about any software, computer programs or particular practices used in the company or agency. This is helpful to be successful at the role, while also offers more experience and learning opportunities for the future.

6. Continue learning

Staying up-to-date in the digital field is imperative to remain a competitive candidate as a computer forensic scientist. Network with others in the field, attend conferences or seminars, subscribe to industry magazines and take online courses to continue developing a deep knowledge and skill set. Remaining relevant and having a desire for self-education can help you secure work, command higher salaries and gain advancement opportunities.

Salary and job outlook of a computer forensic scientist

Please note that none of the entities mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


Can you be a forensic scientist with a computer science degree?

Therefore, it is quite reasonable to pursue a career in forensics with a computer science degree even if it’s not computer forensics. As you can see, computer forensics is a broad and interesting field. And, yes, you can get a job in forensics with a computer science degree.

Is computer forensics a good career?

Is Digital Forensics a Good Career? Yes, digital forensics is a good career for many professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for forensic scientists and information security analysts is expected to be very high.

What is a computer forensic scientist?

Computer Forensic Analysts use forensic tools and investigative methods to find specific electronic data, including Internet use history, word processing documents, images and other files.

Is it hard to become a forensic computer analyst?

You can get a bachelor’s degree in any IT, cyber security, or digital forensics field. Is It Hard to Become a Forensic Computer Analyst? It isn’t hard to become a forensic computer analyst. With the right qualifications, knowledge, and skills, you can land a job as a forensic computer analyst with a good company.

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