What Does It Take to Become a Digital Forensics Analyst?

Knowledge
2022-06-06

Digital forensics analysts play an important role in cyber crime investigations. They’re the go-to experts that work with law enforcement agencies and police departments to solve complex crimes. To do so, they take an in-depth look at virtual traces left behind by criminals, even though they’re often masterfully concealed.

But unlike how this line of work is often portrayed in popular culture, a digital forensics analyst can’t magically waltz through every anti-forensic measure and the digital forensics investigation can take weeks or even months instead of minutes or hours like you often see on TV. Nevertheless, if you’re willing to put in the hours of hard work and study, this can be a rewarding career that enables you to become a force of good in our society.

The objective of this post is to be the best career guide for you to follow and source information from.

By following along, you will learn:
  • what skills are necessary to pursue this fulfilling yet challenging career?
  • what the step-by-step process is to obtain the necessary education??
  • why it’s a great opportunity in terms of salary you can expect as compensation for your good work.

Industries where a digital forensics analyst may find work

Contrary to popular belief, a cyber forensic examiner can find work from a diverse landscape of different sources that go beyond the frame of traditional digital forensics:

law

  • Legal. Various legal departments around the world often need a forensic document expert to assist them with data gathering, eDiscovery, and other aspects of the investigation.

AI

  • Technology. A forensic computer examiner is often asked to perform ethical hacking, penetration testing, or discover vulnerabilities organization’s network.

bank

  • Banking. Since banks heavily rely on databases, they often work with forensics database examiners to investigate fraud and white-collar crime. Furthermore, since the website and network security are extremely important in banking, they may hire them to do penetration testing and auditing.

calculator

  • Accounting. Financial records are a tempting place to commit fraud. Accounting firms and law enforcement agencies oftentimes work with a forensic cyber investigator to double-check the legitimacy of these records and also to find whether further cyber security upgrades can be made.

wall

  • Government. A digital evidence analyst is often needed to provide an expert opinion or lead an investigation, using various data retrieval methods along the way.

Job duties of digital forensics analysts

Hard drive

Depending on the industry the forensics analyst expert chooses to get involved in, being proficient in executing the following and similar tasks may be required on the job:

  • Collecting crime scene information
  • Investigating cybercrime
  • Recovering deleted data
  • Accessing encrypted data
  • Extracting data from digital devices
  • Writing reports
  • Assisting with investigations
  • Analyzing data with forensic software
  • Testifying in court

Skills for a digital forensics analyst to master

skills

To give you a better idea if becoming a certified forensic examiner is the right career path for you, ask yourself if you have any kind of proficiency in (or if you’d like to get good at) the following sets of skills:

  • Critical thinking
  • Legal knowledge
  • Communication
  • Technical knowledge
  • Problem-solving
  • Ethics knowledge
  • Analysis

If this is second nature to you, you likely have what it takes to become a certified digital forensics examiner – all the rest can be learned.

Expected salary for digital forensics analysts

salary

Salary can be a solid motivator for you to undertake any career path. After all, it’s what allows you to live the kind of lifestyle you’re looking for.

According to Glassdoor, an average digital forensics analyst can expect to make roughly $73,000 per year. If you decide to specialize in the field of IT and cyber security, it’s easy to reach the $90,000 per year mark.

The job benefits in theory and practice

While the numbers may look great at first glance, bear in mind your salary will also depend on the country you’ll be working in, and the differences can be quite substantial.

The good news is that being a certified digital forensics examiner will open many doors for you all over the globe, as you’ll effectively be considered a part of a highly qualified workforce. This will make it easy when dealing with immigration obstacles, as obtaining the proper visa or a green card is likely to be much more straightforward.

The only question is, are you willing and able to tackle the challenges and stress of working as a digital forensics expert?

The step-by-step career path

Book and man

If you’re still determined to become a digital forensics analyst, we’ll walk you through the exact steps you need to take. Mind that the process might not be exactly the same depending on your current background (for example, it’s easier to transition into the field of digital forensics if you’re already working in certain areas of law enforcement).

Assuming you’re starting from scratch, the steps ahead of you are as follows:

1. Set your goals

sunset

Do you want to become a generally proficient digital forensics analyst or do you have something specific in mind? As you may know already, this is a relatively diverse science that almost spoils you for choice.

As a forensic science examiner, you can choose to become an expert in:

In general, the fundamentals are the same in every field of digital forensics. So if you’re aiming to be paid a decent wage, it pays off to invest in your education, which brings us to the next step.

2. Earn a bachelor’s degree

graduation

If you want to become a certified forensic examiner, getting a bachelor’s degree will give you the essential education as well as industry recognition to help you land a job later on. Also, this will allow you to experience what it takes to interact with complex computer and database use cases and equip you with the knowledge necessary you’ll need when working on various different cases.

As part of your training, you will also learn:

  • How operating systems work
  • White-hat hacking
  • Criminal justice essentials
  • Cyber and network security

3. Gain experience

world

Just like any other professional field or discipline, the highest-paying jobs will require you to have the necessary experience under your belt. With that being said, there are also certain entry-level jobs that you can apply to after graduating to get your foot through the door.

For starters, you can pursue internships to gain some valuable experience to put in your resume. Don’t forget to do some networking on the side – this can get you access to some fantastic employment opportunities you wouldn’t necessarily come across otherwise.

4. Get certified

paper

To get access to better employment and perks, it pays to be a certified forensic investigator. This will show a potential employer that you’ve undergone the training necessary to become familiar with the complexities of the job and thus open a new chapter in your career as a digital forensics analyst.

At this time, you should start to think about specializing in a certain more specific field of digital forensics. This will not only help you fill in a job opening that requires a specific skill set, but also place you highly above your peers as you’ll be the most qualified candidate for the position.

To help you advance your digital forensics career, SalvationDATA offers industry-grade certification. After you complete the courses and pass the exams, you can become a proud holder of the following industry-recognized certificates:

Expert(SFAC) DVR Forensics Analyst Certification

sfac course

Video surveillance is becoming increasingly more common these days since CCTV cameras are getting better without costing a small fortune. Prove that you understand how they work and that you’re capable of analyzing the footage without compromising the vital evidence.

Expert(SMFC) Mobile Forensics Investigator Certification

SMFC Certifation

Everybody carries a smartphone around with them nowadays. These tiny devices know more about you than you realize and can often play a pivotal role in the resolution of a case. Learn how to extract data from them even if has been deleted or corrupted, all while bypassing the smartphone’s lock screen protection and encryption.

Expect Forensics Data Recovery and Acquisition(SSD)

ssd course

Storage media may hold the missing pieces of evidence you need to crack a case. Learn the best approach on how to recover data from a wide range of devices, including SSDs, flash drives, CDs, DVDs, memory cards, etc.

Advanced RAID & Data Base Training

raid & database traning

Databases may hold the key to solving high-profile white-collar and financial crimes. Discover the essentials of how databases work and how you can leverage this knowledge to access them and extract vital evidence from complex IT structures.

5. Earn a master’s degree

graduate

After you’ve already obtained a bachelor’s degree, you may consider continuing your education as a digital forensics analyst. Although this is not mandatory to land your first job in the field of digital forensics, it does come with several benefits:

  • Higher pay
  • Broadened horizons
  • Higher level of qualification
  • Professional recognition

6. Write a resume

resume

Even after obtaining your degree and additional certification, you’re still going to need to proactively apply to jobs. But before you start doing so, know that it’s typical for any potential employer to ask for a CV to be attach to your application.

It should mention:

  • Any diplomas or certificates you’ve earned
  • Your prior work experience
  • What makes you stand out

7. Apply to jobs

collaboration

Now is the time to start applying to jobs and hopefully land your first assignment as a digital forensics analyst! To search for openings, browse through job boards, network, and find other opportunities to meet your future employer.

Keep in mind that certain employers will require your background check to come back clean. There should be no felony charges on your record and even certain misdemeanors may disqualify you from being considered for the job.

Also, don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back the first time around. Applying to jobs is a numbers game – as long as you’ve obtained the necessary credentials, you should be able to get hired sooner or later. Of course, the more qualified you are, the greater the likelihood that you’ll have the luxury of working a job you love.

Conclusion

Even after graduating, learning never stops. The more time you’ll spend working as a digital forensics analyst, the more experience you’ll have to take on increasingly complex tasks with confidence.

With the help of specialized digital forensics training from SalvationDATA, you’ll obtain the industry-recognized certificates to help you land your dream job.

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