The word forensics may mean different things to different people. Many may conjure images of television forensics experts who pour over physical evidence—fibers, blood samples, bullet markings. However, others may recall that the field of forensics extends into to the world of computer science. More and more crimes are carried out over the computer these days. Passwords and credit card numbers are part of the trade passed around by hackers. Information is possibly more valuable than mere possessions. It's no wonder, then, that so many are seeking computer forensics training in colleges and universities nationwide.

When you receive your education in computer forensics, you will be able to assess the nature of cyber crimes, and follow the evidence to find the perpetrators. You will have the sorts of credentials that are coveted by government agencies and private corporations. After all, everyone who uses computers or a networked system is susceptible to an attack.


To become a computer forensics expert, you will need the proper education. That starts with an undergraduate degree from a local college, university or accredited online institution. From there, you can move on to additional education in a graduate program. You might also opt for a professional certification.


Most frequently, you will find that a four-year program is a more broad-based computer science degree, while there are a few that focus on cyber security or even the specific field of forensics. If you are in a forensics program, will find that the degree covers a lot of different areas. In fact, these degrees combine criminal justice courses with the IT-focused subjects. Your major curriculum might include some of these courses:

  • Criminal Law
  • Malware Forensics
  • Cybercrime
  • Introduction to Networking
  • Cryptography
  • Digital Forensic Analysis
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Financial Accounting
  • Statistics
  • Economics
  • Technical Writing

Note that many IT and computer science programs offer courses in cyber security, including forensics. In fact, many will offer a series of courses in security that will amount to a minor. With this coursework  under your belt, you might seek your first job with a security firm or in an IT department. Alternately, you can likely use your undergrad transcripts to apply for a graduate-level education.

Master's Degree

More often, students begin their focus on computer forensics in graduate school. With a solid foundation in the basics of computer programming, networks and databases, they move forward to a specialized area. Even if your undergraduate degree was in forensics, you will benefit from a graduate program in computer forensics.

The coursework in a graduate program might resemble courses you took in undergrad, but they are likely to be far more in-depth and intense. Some of the courses you might find in a graduate program include, but are not limited to:

  • Information Assurance
  • Programming for Security Professionals
  • Data Engineering
  • Digital Forensics

Professional Certification

Once you have achieved a post-secondary degree, you might consider working on professional certifications. To achieve a certification, you will often have to take a course through the certifying agency and then pass their professional examination. Since the field of cyber security is constantly changing, you will want to continue your education and these programs are a great way to stay current with an ever-changing field, while also adding credentials to your resume.

Here is a brief sampling of the certifications you might consider:

  • Certified Computer Examiner (CCE): The International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners offers training, but self-study methods may qualify you to sit for their examination.
  • Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) V8: This certification course will make you an expert at building a case and prosecuting a nefarious hacker.
  • Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE): To qualify for entrance to this certification program, you must satisfactorily solve four problems. Each is sufficiently difficult to require up to 30 days for each. After successfully completing this 120 day pre-screening, you will be asked to solve a problem related to a hard drive and then pass a 100-item examination that covers forensics. With your certification fees, you will receive a membership to The International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists.


The future looks bright for cyber security professionals, including forensics experts. Government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are clamoring for top-notch team members. You might also work as a private contractor for a wide range of  clients, or perhaps you could specialize in working for legal defense, helping to protect wrongfully accused citizens. No matter what your specific career path looks like, it is bound to be fruitful and rewarding.

In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that Information Security workers netted an average annual salary of $104,210. They state that the typical entry-level degree was a 4-year bachelor's degree. They also state that the field continues to grow, citing an anticipated 31% growth through 2029.

Computer forensics is vital to national and corporate security and you are bound to find a rewarding career in the field. It all begins with your education and other training, so start looking for the best program for you today.