Students in computer and digital forensic programs learn the skills needed to protect, remove and examine digital data for admission into court. Most programs are typically available at colleges, universities and technical schools as standalone bachelor's degrees or as concentrations within justice administration bachelor degree programs; some institutions offer this degree program online. Typically, a high school diploma or equivalent is all that's needed for admission.
Bachelor of Computer and Digital Forensic
Students must complete general education requirements in addition to core courses in criminal justice, computer operations, information assurance and forensics. Students complete much of the coursework in computer labs, gaining hands-on experience working with applications and equipment. In addition to coursework, students typically complete a senior seminar and internship. Core courses offered may include:
- Criminal law
- Computer forensics
- Network security monitoring
- Digital forensics analysis
Popular Career Options
Graduates can seek immediate employment in a variety of industries, such as law enforcement, data recovery firms and information security organizations. Job titles available may include the following:
- Database analyst
- Computer forensic investigator
- Security engineer
- Forensic computer analyst
- Technology security specialist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to employment projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), forensic science technicians, including computer forensics technicians, should see an employment increase of 14% during the 2018-2028 period (www.bls.gov). Private detective and investigator job growth, which includes computer forensic investigators, should be faster than average at 8% over the 2018-2028 decade. The BLS also expects a much faster than average job growth of 32% over the same decade for information security analysts.
PayScale.com reported in September 2019 that forensic computer analysts earned a median wage of $72,019. The BLS reported in May 2018 that median earnings were $50,090 for private detectives and investigators and $98,350 for information security analysts.
Continuing Education Information
Bachelor's degree holders may choose entry-level employment or further their education through graduate degree programs. Master's degree programs in digital forensics or forensic computing provide advanced instruction in scientific applications for computer science and forensics. Research-based doctoral programs in digital forensics are also available. According to the BLS, computer forensic investigators do not need specific licenses to work, but some states do require investigators to be licensed as private investigators.
Programs in computer and digital forensics are usually specialty concentrations within a justice administration bachelor's degree. These programs prepare students for careers as computer forensics technicians or something similar as well as graduate education opportunities, such as a master's or doctoral program in digital forensics.