As cyber criminals are rapidly growing and targeting our information systems and try to breach our privacy for financial gain or any other personal or hatred interest, the field of computer forensics is in great demand. Organizations are looking forward to computer forensics for their incident response team. Too many people out there, the discipline of computer forensics is referred as data recovery. However, it’s much more than that. Computer forensics is a complete computer examination with analysis as the ultimate goal. This means it not only fulfill the demand of file recovery option, but also working on how to find the artifacts, and evaluating the value of information.
A typical computer forensics expert works for law enforcement agencies and works on cases concerning offenses committed on the Internet (‘cyber crime’) and examine computers that may have been involved in other types of crime to find evidence of illegal activity. The unique and sensitive nature of work performed by cyber forensics expert made their job highly demanding must for many organizations that are dealing with user’s confidential or personal information.
With endless possibilities of this field, the job market is also continually growing. The Global Digital Forensics Market is estimated to reach $7 billion by 2024. However, the average salary in the field of computer forensics is $74,199 per year.
It is important to keep in mind that the field of computer forensics has an array of subspecialties, and thus, the average salary of forensics investigator not only depends on what they specialize in but a range of other factors as well which include the following:
*The type of industry (such as government or the private sector).
Broadly speaking, the pay range is obviously much higher for a forensics investigator employed in the private sector than the government. For instance, less experienced investigators with just an associate’s degree earn about $60,000 per year. Much more experienced investigators with the same degree (10 years or greater) earn on average well above $95,000.
An investigator with just a bachelor’s degree and only about 5 years’ experience makes about $50,000; whereas an individual with a master’s degree makes a little over $95,000 per year. So as one can see, the level and amount of education that one has can greatly impact the salary level that he or she will receive.
Unlike different other industries similar to computer forensics like eDiscovery, Incident Response and risk management are significantly not as much employee friendly as far as salaries are concerned. Those industries just perform their task without any future growth, making it an ordinary job market. However, due to increase in sophisticated digital crime and terrorist attack, the rise in security concerns across different industries, and economic growth in developing countries are the major factors driving the global digital forensics market. However, rising complexity of mobile devices and increased utilization of cloud based applications may restrain the market growth in coming years. Advancement in digital forensic tools would offer a number of growth opportunities for the market in upcoming years.
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It is predicted that overall, the growth of computer forensics industry will explode, like that of the cyber security industry, based on a number of key factors which include:
- The rapid sophistication of digital based crimes;
- The advancement of mobile/wireless technologies;
- The ever-growing demand for cloud based services by both consumers and businesses.
Government agencies spending a lot on cyber forensics are recruiting more employees from forensics background to prepare a cyber incident response and recovery teams. However, as private sectors are also being targeted, the need for forensics expert is also being raised in private sectors for restoring information systems and recovering lost or infected files.
The overall growth rate of the forensics market is depicted in the above illustration. As one can see, it is an escalating trend, thus meaning the demand for professionals trained in this area is only expected to grow further. The next section looks at the salary breakdowns of the major subspecialties of computer forensics.
Computer Forensics Specialties and The Salaries
In the field of computer forensics, the employee at the entry level position with less than 5 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $58,000. While an employee at a mid-level position with few years of experience can expect to earn an average of total $92,000 and an employee at the top level position with 10 to 20 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $120,000.
The forensics experts work in their specialized domain and have their position accordingly. According to PayScale, the position of Analyst in the field is being paid least than other positions, while, the position of manager is the highest paid position in the field.
The various sub specialties of computer forensics include the following:
- Computer Forensics Analyst:
Average Salary: $68, 236.00
- Computer Forensics Investigator:
Average Salary: $75,660.00
- Computer Forensic Specialist:
Average Salary: $90,120.00
- Computer Forensics Technician:
Average Salary: $68,121.00
- Digital Forensics Specialist:
Average Salary: $119,400.00
Thus, as one can see, those professionals specializing in the digital realm command amongst the highest salaries (of course, depending upon experience, amount of education, and geographic location, which is described in the next section).
Highest Median Salaries by Geographical Location
The Median Salaries by Geographical Location:
Alabama Computer ForensicsSalaries: $83,000
Alaska Computer ForensicsSalaries: $72,000
Arizona Computer ForensicsSalaries: $66,000
Arkansas Computer ForensicsSalaries: $84,000
California Computer ForensicsSalaries: $76,000
Colorado Computer ForensicsSalaries: $69,000
Connecticut Computer ForensicsSalaries: $84,000
Delaware Computer ForensicsSalaries: $75,000
District of Columbia Computer ForensicsSalaries: $91,000
Florida Computer ForensicsSalaries: $73,000
Georgia Computer ForensicsSalaries: $86,000
Hawaii Computer ForensicsSalaries: $59,000
Idaho Computer ForensicsSalaries: $69,000
Illinois Computer ForensicsSalaries: $80,000
Indiana Computer ForensicsSalaries: $74,000
Iowa Computer ForensicsSalaries: $76,000
Kansas Computer ForensicsSalaries: $70,000
Kentucky Computer ForensicsSalaries: $69,000
Louisiana Computer ForensicsSalaries: $74,000
Maine Computer ForensicsSalaries: $56,000
Maryland Computer ForensicsSalaries: $81,000
Massachusetts Computer ForensicsSalaries: $87,000
Michigan Computer ForensicsSalaries: $78,000
Minnesota Computer ForensicsSalaries: $69,000
Mississippi Computer ForensicsSalaries: $85,000
Missouri Computer ForensicsSalaries: $75,000
Montana Computer ForensicsSalaries: $61,000
Nebraska Computer ForensicsSalaries: $71,000
Nevada Computer ForensicsSalaries: $72,000
New Hampshire Computer ForensicsSalaries: $65,000
New Jersey Computer ForensicsSalaries: $84,000
New Mexico Computer ForensicsSalaries: $93,000
New York Computer ForensicsSalaries: $91,000
North Carolina Computer ForensicsSalaries: $76,000
North Dakota Computer ForensicsSalaries: $76,000
Ohio Computer ForensicsSalaries: $75,000
Oklahoma Computer ForensicsSalaries: $72,000
Oregon Computer ForensicsSalaries: $78,000
Pennsylvania Computer ForensicsSalaries: $73,000
Rhode Island Computer ForensicsSalaries: $75,000
South Carolina Computer ForensicsSalaries: $64,000
South Dakota Computer ForensicsSalaries: $70,000
Tennessee Computer ForensicsSalaries: $77,000
Texas Computer ForensicsSalaries: $74,000
Utah Computer ForensicsSalaries: $66,000
Vermont Computer ForensicsSalaries: $70,000
Virginia Computer ForensicsSalaries: $87,000
Washington Computer ForensicsSalaries: $77,000
West Virginia Computer ForensicsSalaries: $97,000
Wisconsin Computer ForensicsSalaries: $60,000
Wyoming Computer ForensicsSalaries: $85,000
The above chart depicts the average salary level for computer forensic professionals across all the 50 states. As one can see, the average salary bracket is from $60,000-$80,000. It is very interesting to note here that there is no particular one which is displayed. In other words, there is no one specific geographic segment which commands a higher salary level. Rather, it is all dependent upon the state. For instance, it is the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia which command amongst the highest salary levels. Some of the lower paying states include those of Arizona, Idaho, Maine, and Montana.
According to the survey by PayScale, the Median salary for computer forensics professional lies within $74,199. However, it also varies city to city as per requirements. Los Angeles is on the top in paying the highest median salaries for computer forensics specialists by offering salaries as high as 46% of average, while Washington is on 2nd position in paying median salaries with a higher rate of 45% than median salary. Chicago and New York are on the 3rd and 4th position respectively in paying highest median salaries for computer forensics specialists with the high rate of 10% and 1% of median salary.
Other Salary Considerations
The other considerations that boost up computer forensics expert’s salaries are the skill factors. It depends on the skill set and specialization that how much salary your organization will offer. For the domain of high interest, for which global community is working the most and is the hottest technology, you will be paid relatively higher than any other sub-domain in the field.
Professionals can improve their salaries and skills by earning certifications such as CISSP, EnCE (EnCase Certified Examiner), CFCE (Certified Forensic Computer Examiner), CHFI (Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator) or CCE (Certified Computer Examiner). The Salaries range from $80,000 to $120,000 annually, depending on certifications.
Being that computer forensics is such a broad field, there are many kinds of certifications that are available. However, the “hot ones” which are in demand include the following:
- The Global Information Assurance Certification Forensic Examiner (GCFE);
- The Global Information Assurance Certification Forensic Analyst (GCFA);
- The GIAC Reverse Engineering Malware (GREM);
- The GIAC Network Forensic Analyst (GNFA);
- The GIAC Advanced Forensics (GASF);
- The Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI);
- The Certified Cyber Forensics Professional (CCFP);
- The Certified Digital Forensics Examiner (CDFE);
- The Certified Network Forensics Examiner (CNFE).
The salaries for the field of computer forensics are noticeably good due to rapidly increasing demand for the expertise. The industry is highly demanding as it requires complete technical skills to perform. However, the threat to the cyber world is the main reason behind the popularity of forensics experts and their increased salaries. Individuals planning to switch to computer forensics can expect a significant raise in their salaries and a good expanding career.
Read more about the Computer Forensics field:
Computer Forensics Jobs Outlook: Become An Expert In The Field
Computer Forensics: Criminal Investigations
The average Entry Level Forensic Computer Analyst salary in the United States is $67,640 as of February 27, 2023, but the salary range typically falls between $62,725 and $73,864.What is the job outlook for computer forensics analyst? ›
While the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not include digital forensic analysts as a job category in its Occupational Outlook Handbook, it reports that information security analysts should see job growth of 35 percent and forensic science technicians 11 percent growth 2021-2031, respectively [3, 4].What is the highest paying job in computer forensics? ›
- Cybercrime Investigator. If you have analytical and problem-solving skills, taking up the job role as a Cybercrime Investigator can be rewarding. ...
- Malware Analyst. ...
- Forensic Accountant. ...
- Forensic Computer Analyst. ...
- Information Technology Auditor.
How much does a Cyber Forensics Analyst make in the United States? The average Cyber Forensics Analyst salary in the United States is $80,601 as of February 27, 2023, but the salary range typically falls between $72,979 and $89,396.How much does a computer forensic analyst make an hour? ›
The average hourly wage for a Cyber Forensics Analyst in the United States is $39 as of January 26, 2023, but the salary range typically falls between $35 and $43.What is the lowest salary of a forensic scientist? ›
The base salary for Forensic Scientist ranges from $64,428 to $78,791 with the average base salary of $70,576. The total cash compensation, which includes base, and annual incentives, can vary anywhere from $67,210 to $82,220 with the average total cash compensation of $73,732.Which is better cybersecurity or computer forensics? ›
Despite their differences, both are meant to protect data, programs, networks and other digital assets. Cyber security helps to prevent cybercrimes from happening, while computer forensics helps recover data when an attack does occur and also helps identify the culprit behind the crime.Which top 5 computer forensics certifications are in demand? ›
- CDFE (Certified Digital Forensics Examiner): NICCS. ...
- CHFI (Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator): EC-Council. ...
- CFCE (Certified Forensic Computer Examiner): IACIS. ...
- GCFE (GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner): SANS. ...
- GASF (GIAC Advanced Smartphone Forensics): SANS.
In fact, it's helpful to think of cybersecurity and computer forensics as two essential sides of the same coin - the work they do is very similar, but differs in a few key ways. To put it simply, cybersecurity is about prevention, while computer forensics is about response.Does computer forensics pay well? ›
Forensic computer analysts gather and inspect digital evidence, using it to build legal cases or develop strategies for cybercrime prevention. PayScale notes that the average annual salary for forensic computer analysts is about $73,900.
Average Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Computer Forensic Analyst yearly pay in the United States is approximately $130,503, which is 113% above the national average.What is the highest salary for a data analyst in us? ›
Data Analyst Salary by Location.
|Cities in the US||Average Salary per year|
|Los Angeles, CA||$68,829|
- Career Outlook.
- 10 Top-Paying Cybersecurity Jobs.
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
- Lead Software Security Engineer.
- Cybersecurity Engineer.
- Cybersecurity Architect.
- Cybersecurity Manager/Administrator.
- Penetration Tester.
This role analyzes digital evidence and investigates computer security incidents to derive useful information in support of system/network vulnerability mitigation. Personnel performing this role may unofficially or alternatively be called: Computer Forensic Analyst.Is forensic analyst a hard job? ›
Work Environment Challenges
They also examine potentially hazardous substances such as bodily fluids and must follow strict safety protocols. While many forensic analysts work a standard 40-hour week, they must sometimes work long hours or be on call to respond to a crime scene at a moment's notice.
Working as a forensic scientist can often be stressful. Often, the first 48 hours after a crime are critical, making for working conditions under tight deadlines. Additionally, you may be exposed to violent crime scenes or images.Which forensic career is best? ›
- Forensic Ballistics Expert. ...
- Bloodstain Pattern Analyst. ...
- Forensic DNA Analyst. ...
- Forensic Toxicologist. ...
- Forensic Documents Examiner. ...
- Digital Forensic Expert. ...
- Forensic Accountant. ...
- Forensic Anthropologist.
Many programs will require that applicants have an undergraduate average GPA of at least 3.0. Other application requirements typically include GRE tests scores, a writing sample, and letters of recommendation from professional or educational references.
Acquisition (without altering or damaging), Authentication (that recovered evidence is the exact copy of the original data), and Analysis (without modifying) are the three main steps of computer forensic investigations.Does cyber forensics require coding? ›
For most entry-level cybersecurity jobs, coding skills are not required. However, as cybersecurity professionals seek mid- or upper-level positions, coding may be necessary to advance in the field.Does coding pay more than cyber security? ›
Salaries can range depending on where you live, but full-time cybersecurity jobs are on the rise everywhere. Software engineers earn slightly more than cybersecurity professionals; the BLS found the 2021 median pay to be $120,990 per year or $58.05 per hour for a freelance programmers' income.How many C's are in computer forensics? ›
There are three c's in computer forensics.What is one of the biggest challenges of computer forensics? ›
The two challenges faced in a digital forensic investigation are complexity and quantity. The complexity problem refers to the data collected being at the lowest level or in raw format. Non-technical people will find it difficult to understand such data.
CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP)
CASP, or CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner, is one of the most sought-after certifications and many IT professionals aspire to have it in their toolbox.
The terms digital forensics and cyber forensics are often used as synonyms for computer forensics.What is the need of computer forensic in modern age? ›
Cyber forensics ensures the integrity of the computer. Through cyber forensics, many people, companies, etc get to know about such crimes, thus taking proper measures to avoid them. Cyber forensics find evidence from digital devices and then present them in court, which can lead to the punishment of the culprit.What is a computer forensics called? ›
Cyber Forensics Analyst: Cyber forensics analysts help investigators and detectives during the investigation of crimes. They recover deleted or encrypted data using processes that allow it to be admitted into court.How much does a PHD in cyber forensics make? ›
₹1L - ₹10L (Glassdoor Est.)
They found that the top 20% of all Americans earn over $100,000 in income.What is the 1 highest paying job in the world? ›
|1||Anesthesiologists||Doctoral or professional degree|
|1||Cardiologists||Doctoral or professional degree|
|1||Dermatologists||Doctoral or professional degree|
- Anesthesiologist: $208,000.
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: $208,000.
- Obstetrician and Gynecologist: $208,000.
- Surgeon: $208,000.
- Orthodontist: $208,000.
- Physician: $208,000.
- Psychiatrist: $208,000.
Information Technology graduates have a broader scope of knowledge which may open up more available jobs both here and abroad. On the other hand, a degree in Computer Science might have a higher salary to offer but along with better compensation comes higher expectations regarding your skills.What state pays computer scientist the most? ›
Which is better Computer Science or IT? There is no such thing as “better” because they lead to different careers and have different specialisations or subfields. Either discipline is a great choice for your studies, as long as you're passionate about technology, and you understand what each study option implies.Is it hard to become a forensic computer analyst? ›
To become a forensic computer analyst, you need to earn a bachelor's degree. Your degree gives you the relevant training, knowledge and experience to succeed in a computer forensics role. There are multiple different degrees and qualifications available that relate to computer forensics.How long does it take to become a computer forensic analyst? ›
Becoming a computer forensics analyst requires a bachelor's degree in computer forensics or a related field and several years of professional experience. A typical bachelor's degree spans four years. In total, becoming a computer forensics analyst could take up to six years.Is computer forensics a good career? ›
Computer forensics can be a stressful field, as you often need to find information quickly for a criminal investigation and criminals can be highly skilled at technology. On the other hand, a computer forensics career is in a top growing field that has many diverse employment opportunities.Does cyber forensics pay well? ›
Cyber investigators (or digital forensics investigators) are in charge of recovering and analyzing digital evidence that's been linked to potential criminal activity. According to PayScale, the average annual salary for cyber investigators is about $63,600.
- Technical Aptitude. ...
- Attention to Detail. ...
- An Understanding of Law and Criminal Investigation. ...
- Communication Skills. ...
- Comprehension of Cybersecurity Fundamentals. ...
- Analytical Skills. ...
- A Desire to Learn. ...
- Ability to Work with Challenging Material.
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree.
- a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study.
Forensic scientists employed by government agencies and laboratories typically work 40 hours each week, but they're often required to work overtime to meet deadlines.Is cyber security and forensics hard? ›
When they do, an expert in cyber security forensics may be called in to evaluate the problem and find a solution. This task is challenging and requires highly specialized skills and knowledge. For this reason, employers are increasingly looking for candidates with advanced degrees.Is forensic high demand? ›
Employment of forensic science technicians is projected to grow 11 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. About 2,500 openings for forensic science technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade.
The terms digital forensics and cyber forensics are often used as synonyms for computer forensics. Digital forensics starts with the collection of information in a way that maintains its integrity. Investigators then analyze the data or system to determine if it was changed, how it was changed and who made the changes.Which pays more cybersecurity or data science? ›
Jobs in both cybersecurity and data science can provide opportunities to earn a lucrative salary. However, data scientists typically earn more than cybersecurity analysts. The national average salary for a data scientist is $100,673 per year , while a cybersecurity analyst earns a national average of $83,817 per year .What pays the most in cyber security? ›
- Ethical Hacker. Average annual wage: $119,289* ...
- Information Security Engineer. ...
- Security Sales Engineer. ...
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) ...
- Network Security Architect. ...
- Ethical Hacker. ...
- Information Security Engineer. ...
- Cyber Security Sales Engineer.
Abstract. Recent evidence shows digital forensics experts are at risk of burnout and job-related stress.