An interconnected society makes everyone a target –- and a suspect. Some perpetrators like the hacker group “Anonymous” are highly visible, while most go unnoticed until companies or governments discover their networks have been compromised. Computer Forensics involves identifying and recovering evidence found in computers and digital media for use in criminal and civil investigations. Demand for these jobs has exploded in recent years, and if you have an interest and background in information technology or criminal investigations, this may be a fulfilling career. Job sites contain hundreds of listings for these positions, with titles including variations of the words “Information Systems” and “Network” combined with “Analyst”, “Consultant”, “Specialist”, or “Engineer”. Here are some examples to give you more information about the career:

Information Systems Analyst – Average salary: $76,000

This role deals with computer forensics and electronic discovery. It requires basic knowledge of network architecture, experience with troubleshooting for viruses and malicious code, the ability to identify and recover deleted files, and exposure to forensic tools such as EnCase Forensic Software. Also listed as Forensic Computer Analysts, Computer Forensics Examiners, and eDiscovery Specialists, these positions may require CISSP (Certified Information Security Systems Professional) certifications, and professionals may be called to testify in court.

Network Security Engineer – Average salary: $91,000

This role focuses on network maintenance, including safeguarding networks and identifying potential vulnerabilities. These professionals design firewalls and test solutions to improve security. They may also assist in investigations to the extent a company’s network was involved in a crime, providing some exposure to electronic discovery. Also listed as Information Security Engineers and IT Systems Security Administrators, these professionals have extensive experience with network infrastructure and some exposure to security incident handling and forensics.

Computer Forensics Consultant – Average salary: $107,000

Also called Computer Forensics Engineers and Forensics Managing Specialists, these positions combine a strong networking background with incident management experience. They understand network infrastructure and the impact of network security and data protection on forensic investigations. They may conduct vulnerability analyses of compromised systems and track trend reports to determine security gaps and deficiencies in network architecture design. They may also research online forums to learn the latest hacker techniques and exploits. They have extensive experience with forensics software such as EnCase, FTK, and Paraben for collecting and recovering lost data. They conduct forensic analysis, prepare reports for legal cases, and document how evidence was handled, and they are frequently called upon to provide expert testimony in trials.

This dynamic career includes a range of specialties, salaries and certifications. Consider degrees in Computer Information Systems that specialize in Computer Forensics, IT Networking, or Information Systems Security. Professionals can improve their salaries and skills by earning certifications such as CISSP, EnCE (EnCase Certified Examiner), CFCE (Certified Forensic Computer Examiner), or CCE (Certified Computer Examiner). Salaries generally range between $80,000 and $120,000, but location makes a difference, with jobs on either coast paying 10-15 percent higher than the same roles in the middle of the country. Government contractors also tend to pay more for the same work than federal or state government agencies. Some forensics roles require top secret security clearance, andprofessionals with clearance can demand a higher salary.

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Sources for this article:

CareerBuilder.com
Indeed.com
Monster.com

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