Computer Forensics Examiner
Computer forensics is a field that has seen significant growth in the last two decades. A computer forensic examiner is a specialist whose work focuses on recovering intelligence and information from electronic devices that can assist law enforcement, analyzing electronics during criminal investigations to determine if any evidence can be collected, and even pioneering new technologies and techniques to advance the field of computer forensics.
Skills and Duties
- Knowledge and application of computer forensic concepts, especially in a law enforcement capacity
- Knowledge of "hard skills" (computer forensics) and "soft skills" (legal issues)
- May recover and/or maintain integrity of hard disk evidence and digital devices
- Recover information from partially damaged or whole: disks, memory cards, hard drives, and other electronic devices
- Evidence analysis and evaluation to determine if there are any relevant contents that speak to a crime having been committed.
- Evidence recovery in a variety of system types (Windows, Linux, OS)
- Produce forensic reports based on analyses for agency directors and supervisors
- Testify in court proceedings about computer forensic techniques, evidence management procedures, and data recovered
As a part of the "Forensic Science Technicians" category in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer forensics examiners saw a median salary of $56,750 in 2016¹. The best pay for this position was in employees of the federal government, where forensic science techs made around $107,810 annually¹. Computer forensics generally sees a much higher pay than other forensic science positions. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) hires computer forensic examiners at the following pay grades: GS-5 through GS-13². In 2012, a computer forensic examiner could make up to $65,371² a year at GS-5 and up to $93,175² at GS-9. By the end of one's career, one's pay grade could reach GS-12 to GS-13, which carries a larger salary.
The job outlook for all forensic science techs, including computer forensics examiners is expected to rise 17 % by 2026¹.
¹ Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Forensic Science Technicians, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/life-physical-and-social-science/forensic-science-technicians.htm (visited October 27, 2017).