Forensics refers to the use of technology and science to examine evidence presented in civil and criminal legal cases. Graduates of bachelor’s degree programs in computer and digital forensics can look into further education or work involving digital crimes.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree Programs in Computer and Digital Forensics
Coursework in bachelor’s degree programs in computer and digital forensics explores rudimentary computer forensic techniques used in the investigation of illegal and unethical activity. They are taught the skills necessary for the protection, removal, and examination of digital data to allow their admission into court.
Some schools offer digital forensics programs as concentrations within bachelor’s degree programs in justice administration. Technical schools, universities, and colleges are among the institutions that typically offer these programs; this degree program is offered online by some schools.
Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma.
General education requirements must be completed by students to augment core coursework related to forensics, information assurance, computer operations, and criminal justice. Most coursework is completed by students in computer labs, wherein they gain hands-on experience working with equipment and applications. Apart from coursework, an internship and a senior seminar are typically completed by students. Core coursework may include topic areas such as:
•Network security monitoring
•Digital forensics analysis
Those that graduate from the program may join the workforce in various industries, including information security organizations, data recovery firms, and law enforcement. Possible job titles may include:
•Technology protection specialist
•Computer forensics investigator
•Forensic computer analyst
Job and Wage Outlook
A job growth rate of 19% has been predicted for forensic science technicians, including computer forensics specialists, over the 2010 – 2020 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Over the same period, corresponding job growth rates of 21% and 22% have been projected for private detectives and investigators including computer forensic investigators and information security analysts, categorized with web developers and network architects.
In December 2013, forensic computer analysts banked an average annual wage of $68,804. In May 2012, private detectives and investigators earned $45,740, and information security analysts took home $86,170.
Continuing Education Choices
Those that graduate from the bachelor’s degree program may seek entry-level careers or continuing education by earning master’s degrees in forensic computing or digital forensics, whereby they are provided advanced instruction in scientific applications for forensics and computer science.
Schools also offer research-based doctoral programs in digital forensics. Computer forensic investigators are not required to obtain specific licensure in order to practice their profession (BLS), but in some states, researchers are expected to obtain licensure as private investigators.