Forensic Data Retrieval Career Options and Education Requirements

Training in forensic data retrieval typically covers law enforcement, criminal justice and scientific analysis topics. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for forensic data retrieval graduates.

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Those who work in forensic data retrieval can work as forensic science technicians, computer forensic investigators and forensic accountants. A bachelors' degree is typically required for each of these career choices, while additional certification may improve job prospects.

Essential Information

Professionals employed in forensic data retrieval work closely with law enforcement personnel to help gather and identify evidence and analyze data samples. They need to be careful observers, skilled analysts and excellent communicators. Careers in forensics usually require a bachelor's degree.

Career Forensic Science Technician Computer Forensic Investigator Forensic Accountant
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements None None Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 14%* 5% for all police and detectives* 6% for all accountants and auditors*
Median Salary $58,230 (2018)* $71,987 for forensic computer analysts (2019) ** $66,137 (2019)**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

Career Options

Forensic data retrieval training prepares students for a range of careers in criminal investigation. Generally, forensic data retrieval professionals work closely with law enforcement to collect evidence from crime scenes, and they may be expected to prepare and present their research during court proceedings. Read about a few career options in the field.

Forensic Science Technician

Forensic science technicians are responsible for collecting and analyzing evidence from crime scenes as part of a criminal investigation. Some technicians specialize in testing certain kinds of evidence, like DNA on tissue samples or fingerprints on weapons. Technicians create reports, documenting their findings and offering interpretations of the results. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that forensic science technicians could experience a 14% increase in job opportunities from 2018-2028. As of May 2018, the BLS reported that these technicians earned a median salary of $58,230 annually.

Forensic science technicians must have a 4-year degree from an accredited university. They may have a bachelor's degree in forensic science or a bachelor's degree in a physical science, such as biology or chemistry, with an emphasis in forensic science. Introductory courses in law and criminal justice may also be helpful.

Computer Forensic Investigator

Computer forensic investigators are responsible for extracting incriminating data from computer hard drives, including information that the user has deleted. Some computer forensics investigators look for electronic data, such as e-mails, photographs or documents related to the crime or victims, that are evidence of a physical crime. Others focus on cyber crime, such as Internet credit card fraud, computer viruses or a hacked computer system. According to Payscale.com, forensic computer analysts earned a median annual salary of $71,987 as of September 2019.

Most computer forensic investigators have a bachelor's degree in computer science, though some have a degree in computer forensics, but those programs are less common. Investigators often supplement their degree with certificate programs or continuing education courses in computer forensics. Investigative techniques are usually acquired through on-the-job training in a law enforcement position.

Forensic Accountant

Forensic accountants specialize in detecting and proving instances of financial fraud. They are employed in many different institutions, including certified public accounting firms, risk management agencies and insurance agencies. Forensic accountants use their knowledge of business, finance and law along with investigative skills to identify and trace fraudulent behavior, including false insurance claims, misrepresentations in contracts and embezzled funds.Payscale.com reported that forensic accountants earned a median annual salary of $66,137 as of September 2019.

Forensic accountants must have at least a 4-year degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, and sometimes they complete additional training in criminal justice. Students in accounting programs take courses in financial accounting, business law and databases. A forensic accountant who is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and has qualifying prior education and experience can apply to take the Certified Fraud Examiner examination. They can also become licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) by passing an examination proctored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

According to the BLS, the job growth expected for forensic accountants will be faster than average from 2018 to 2028 when compared to all occupations. In the field of forensic data retrieval, forensic science technicians can expect the highest job growth, at 14% during the same time period. All forensic data retrieval careers require a bachelor's degree, although the focus of the degree may vary depending on the specific type of data retrieval.

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