Like many other aspects of modern life, crime has moved online, and cybercrime specialists are tasked with fighting it where it lives. Depending on the type of work that you want to do, you may not require a degree, but earning one may improve your job opportunities, especially with government agencies. Educational options include associate's and bachelor degrees and certificate programs.
Cybercrime specialists, also known as computer security specialists, are experts in using computer and digital forensics to help fight cybercrime. Depending on the position, educational requirements for these positions vary from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree. Computer skills are also needed, and training is sometimes required.
|Required Education||High school diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Computer skills,|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||18% for information security analysts, 4% for police and detectives, 5% for private detectives and investigators|
|Median Annual Salary||$67,833 for computer security specialists (2016)**, $77,210 for detectives and criminal investigators (2015)*, $45,610 for private detectives and investigators (2015)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com.
Salary Information for Cybercrime Specialists
As of January 2016, PayScale.com reported that the median annual salary for computer security specialists was $67,833. Detectives and criminal investigators may also specialize in Internet crime. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May 2015, detectives and criminal investigators in general earned a median salary of $77,210 and private detectives and investigators earned $45,610 (www.bls.gov).
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Career Information for Cybercrime Specialists
Specializing in cybercrime allows cybercrime professionals to acquire skills in computer technology and digital forensics. Cybercrime specialists can expand their career by taking other positions, such as computer-digital examiner or computer systems specialist. Usually, no formal degree is required. Financial institutions, Internet providers, software developers, and other small to large businesses employ them. Government agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security, also employ detectives, investigators or agents specifically for cybercrime investigations.
As technology evolves, the need for more Internet and computer security increases. According to the BLS, job growth for information security analysts is expected to increase faster than average from 2014 to 2024, at 18%, as companies - private and public - try to stay ahead of cybercrime. An increase of only four percent from 2014-2024 for police and detective positions was forecasted from the BLS. Private detectives and investigators may also specialize as computer forensic investigators. The BLS predicts a 5% increase in job opportunities for private detectives and investigators from 2014 to 2024.
Though there is no formal degree requirement among most employers, taking educational and training courses can increase the chances for employment. Certificate programs and college degree programs that teach cybercrime and computer forensics are available through community colleges and technical schools. Typical courses would include some of the following:
- Computer operating concepts
- Criminal justice and procedures
- Operating microcomputers
- Technology in cybercrime
Students can choose to major in computer and digital forensics and earn a two-year associate's degree. Some of the courses may include some of the following:
- Cyber Forensics
Students can expand their career opportunities by earning a bachelor's degree, such as the B.S. in Cybercrime Investigation. This could increase employment opportunities with federal agencies such as the FBI. Federal agencies generally require a bachelor's degree and prior work experience for employment. Employment by the FBI also requires candidates to complete an 18-week training program, according to the BLS.
Job growth is most significant in the information security sector, as companies try to prevent crime before it happens. Work is also available with police services and private investigation firms. Education requirements vary depending on where you wish to work, but some postsecondary study is recommended to gain access to better jobs in this field.