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Computer Forensics

Career Overview

Computer forensics, also known as "digital forensics," is the examination of a so-called "digital artifact." This term includes items such as a computer system, a storage device (hard drives, CDs, DVDs, flash drives), an email document or series of documents, etc.

A computer forensics technician may attempt to recover lost data, may define for a legal case what evidence relevant evidence is there, may analyze a computer hacking job or may develop methods to remove bugs or malfunctions from computer systems.

Training and Qualifications

Computer forensics is focused on law enforcement, but a degree in computer science or in accounting is more useful than one in criminology. Learning about investigative tools and procedures is often on-the-job training. Bachelors degrees in computer forensics are becoming more common.

There are also certification programs offered by community colleges and online schools; usually these certification programs are taken by people with experience in law enforcement or investigation.


Computer forensics is a vital function in both private investigation work and in law enforcement. Actual numbers of computer forensic technicians is difficult to determine, but the job function is becoming a vital part of law enforcement at every level.

Job Outlook

The use of digital courtroom evidence such as e-mails and altered data is increasingly common. Computer-based crime is also on the rise as computers and networks make identity theft and fraud more accessible. This job category will show excellent growth in an increasingly competitive environment.

Salary Range

Less than one year's experience $46,452
1-4 years in experience  $55.596
5-9 years in experience  $78.449

Source: Payscale.com. Note: this salary range is for private businesses and does not reflect salaries for this position in government agencies.

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