How to Become a Computer Forensic Examiner

Individuals who know computer forensics is the right career choice for them, wonder where to start. The first step to becoming a computer forensics examiner is earning a four year college degree in information technology, especially if you are planning to go into the consulting agency side of forensics. There are specific computer forensics degrees available but most IT degrees will also work just fine.The law enforcement side typically involves starting in an entry level law enforcement position and hoping you eventually get chosen for the cyber crimes unit. You may be better off to earn a criminal justice or related degree if youíre interested in law enforcement forensics and getting a double major in computer forensics or IT with the criminal justice degree would be even better..

In addition to obtaining a four year computer forensics degree, most consulting agencies hiring forensics professionals also require some type of experience. To get this experience, before landing your first job in computer forensics, internships where youíre exposed to a real computer forensics lab are highly beneficial.

Traits that are important for computer forensic examiners include having an inquisitive mind and strong investigative skills. Effective communication skills are also important because when you are asked to testify to the evidence you found, you need to be able to clearly convey and help a non-technical audience understand what the findings were.

Job Positions:

There are several different job positions within the computer forensics field that someone can obtain. The below list provides the main job positions that are found within most private computer forensic agencies. There arenít really many different forensic positions within most law enforcement offices.

  • Director of Computer Forensics This individual typically supervises the whole computer forensics department of a company. They also serve as the communication representative between the computer forensics unit and all other departments within the company. Typically, the forensic director isnít involved in the actual forensic investigations.
  • Computer Forensic Manager This individual reports to the Director of Computer Forensics and manages the daily processes within the computer forensic department. Computer forensic managers allocate cases to forensic examiners. The computer forensic manager typically is the main communicator with the client, and is responsible for reviewing all reports before they are provided to the client. Managers are more likely to be involved in the hands-on forensic investigations than directors.
  • Senior Forensic Investigator/Consultant Senior forensic investigators, commonly referred to as consultants, are usually assigned the more advanced cases. They serve as mentors and provide training to the forensic investigators. They also perform peer reviews on reports. These individuals usually have more years of experience and training than forensic investigators.
  • Forensic Investigator/Consultant The position of Computer Forensic Investigator is an entry-level position within the organization. Computer Forensic Investigators are responsible for the daily forensic investigations.
  • Evidence Custodian Larger consulting agencies may have an evidence custodian on staff. This entry-level position involves the intake of digital media. Evidence Custodians complete the chain of custody and protect the digital media as evidence. Oftentimes, these individuals are also responsible for acquiring the digital media.

Day in the Life of a Computer Forensic Examiner

Below are examples of individuals who work in the field and their experiences and viewpoints about the field.