Computer forensics training involves finding, analyzing, and preserving digital evidence at a crime scene. The advancement in the field of computer technology has contributed to the increased capability in providing forensic evidence. What is stored on the hard disk of a computer is usually preserved for a long time and if it is there, it is possible to locate and use it. The job of a computer forensics expert involves extracting, documenting, analyzing, interpreting, and preserving the computer data for evidential purposes. The computer forensics course involves extensive training in the working of the computer system, data storage methods, and the process of extracting and restoring the data. Many students start out in the IT or regular computer field before switching over to computer forensics training.
Furthermore, the field does not restrict itself only to computers, but it includes other digital devices such as cell phones and digital cameras. Expertise in computer forensics has become a necessity in today's crime scenes. Some areas where computer forensics is applicable are in determining the root cause of a hacker attack, collecting evidence that is legally admissible in courts, and protecting corporate assets and reputation.
Those with computer forensics training are highly sought after and can expect to land in great positions in a variety of job sectors. Since computers have become such an indispensable part of our lives, and numerous instances are bound to come up where information stored in them may be required to be accessed, job prospects are quite bright in the field of computer forensics.
At the entry level, you can expect to draw a salary of about $50,000 annually. As you gain in experience, your salary also rises correspondingly. An experienced professional gets about $120,000 and a director can easily look forward to a pay package of $150,000. If you decide on taking up the position of a consultant, you can bill on an hourly basis, which runs into several hundreds of dollars.
The tuition fee depends on the organization conducting the course. The cost of training will vary depending on whether it is a short-term professional certification course or a degree course and also if it is an on-site or online course. You will also have to take into consideration the examination and registration fee for the various certification examinations you are required to pass.
A 12-week computer forensic examiner course will cost you about $995, while a day long course that lasts for about eight hours is available for about $200.
A variety of computer forensics certifications are awarded to the candidates upon passing the respective certification exams. Some of the well known certifications include the Computer Forensic External certification, EnCase Certified Examiner, and Certified Forensics Analyst. The students are expected to prepare themselves to perform well in these examinations based on the syllabus. The students may join a training course at one of the several organizations and schools offering training for them. You will have to register yourself for these exams by paying the examination fee. Boot camp training for computer forensics is quite popular at the moment.
For those looking for formal education, various schools offer various degree level courses. The associate's degree is designed to provide you with training in tools such as intrusion detection systems. The bachelor's degree programs usually focus on software engineering or computer science with a specialization at the later stage by way of internships. If you are already an expert in the field, you can opt for one of the master's degree programs such as in fraud analysis and data recovery. Continuous training and gaining professional certifications in computer forensics can help further one's career to a great extent.
NTI, DIBS USA Inc., Computer Forensic Training Center Online, Compuforensics, and X-Ways Software Technology AG are some organizations that offer training and workshops in the field of computer forensics. For degree courses, American Intercontinental University and the University of Phoenix are some schools worth recommending.
Testing & Preparation
There are no special tests or preparation that is required to enroll in a computer forensics training course. The applicant's suitability for the course is evaluated by the organization conducting the course. Knowledge of computers and their working is required by some schools. A degree or diploma in computers and/or knowledge of computer programming is an added advantage. A high school diploma or its equivalent should be submitted for admission.
If you are taking up the professional certification courses, they are usually short term courses and do not qualify for financial aid. However, if you take up one of the degree courses from an accredited university, then you become eligible for the scholarships and financial aid options offered by the university to deserving students. You also have the option of applying for Federal Student Aid such as Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans, Pell Grants, etc. Students can also search for other scholarships through websites such as Scholarship America and Education Planner. Another way to fund the cost of training is to avail of student loans and/or parent loans from private banks such as the U.S. Bank and SunTrust Banks, Inc.