Audio Forensics Degree and Certificate Program Summaries
Learn about the prerequisites and coursework for audio forensics degree programs. Find out about career options, salary and certification after graduation.
Audio forensics is a specialized branch of the forensic science field that uses technology to authenticate sound recordings for criminal investigations and trials. There are no certificate programs available in the audio forensics subfield, but students can pursue a master's degree in recording arts with an emphasis on forensic science.
These programs provide some educational background in the process of gathering forensic evidence, focusing primarily on the technologies behind audio and video enhancement and authentication. Related undergrad studies are usually required, as well as familiarity with audio equipment.
Students are required to earn a bachelor's degree in a related field before they can enroll in most master's degree programs in recording arts with an emphasis on forensic science. They should have some technical competency and should be familiar with audio/visual equipment. Students are also typically required to complete the Graduate Record Examination before applying to a master's degree program.
Most of the courses offered dealing with forensic science take place within a studio, computer laboratory or classroom. Students learn how to acquire digital evidence, perform forensic techniques on mobile phones and recordings, authenticate audio recordings and use voice biometrics. They also gain some research, writing and legal skills that can help them in the field of forensics. Some examples of courses include:
- Video enhancement
- Forensic litigation
- Introduction to technical and professional writing
- Courtroom evidence
- Sound security systems
- Principles of audio research
Popular Career Options
Individuals who are trained in the audio forensics field can open their own practices or work directly for law enforcement teams or for private companies. Some examples of the types of organizations that hire experts in the field include:
- Private forensic practices
- State and local law enforcement agencies
- Federal law enforcement agencies
- Corporate research firms
- Private security firms
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), forensic science technician employment is expected to increase 19% during the 2010-2020 decade (www.bls.gov). This includes professionals who examine audio evidence. The BLS also reported that these technicians earned a mean annual salary of $55,730 in May 2012.
There is no required certification for professional audio forensics experts. However, professionals working in the forensics field can pursue voluntary certifications such as the Certified Forensic Analyst credential from GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certification) or the American Board of Criminalistics.
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