Associate degree programs in computer or digital forensics provide a foundation in computer applications, forensics and criminal investigation. An Associate of Applied Science in Computer Security and Forensics and related degree programs develop critical thinking and analytic skills while learning how to identify, isolate and remove security threats and flaws to computers, computer systems and networks and related media. Bachelor's degrees and graduate certificates in computer or digital forensics are also available. Programs also teach students how to perform investigative work and maintain the integrity of the evidence so that it meets ethical and legal standards. Other topics discussed may include emergency response and disaster recovery planning, social engineering, business and policy development, backups and passwords. A high school diploma or GED is required to enter these programs.
Associate Degree in Computer/Digital Forensics
Associate degree programs typically require a high school diploma or GED. Many programs expect applicants to have taken college preparatory courses as high school students and offer make-up courses for students who need them.
Students typically take general education classes such as composition, social sciences and math. The curriculum includes an introduction to computer programming, software and networking as well as courses in digital media analysis and computing infrastructure security. Specialized coursework will typically cover:
- Computer forensics
- Computer network intrusion detection
- Crime scene investigation procedures
- Incidence response
- Digital media search and seizure
- Criminal law and litigation
The demand for computer forensics professionals is expected to grow at an average rate, with a 5% increase in employment projected between 2014 and 2024 for private detectives and investigators, of whom computer forensic investigators were included in U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) job outlook figures (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, as of May 2015, the national median salary for detectives and criminal investigators, including computer forensic investigators, was $77,210 per year.
People with an associate degree in computer or digital forensics who gain employment in the field may enhance their qualifications by pursuing professional certification. Various industry and law enforcement associations award professional certifications, which include the Certified Computer Examiner and Certified Computer Forensics Examiner certifications. Those interested in continuing their college education may seek a bachelor's degree and graduate degree in computer forensics.
Students interested in careers in forensic computing can obtain degrees or certificates in computer or digital forensics. Graduates of these programs are trained in computer forensics, incidence response, and other investigative capacities.