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 $69,629 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:

*Experience level;

*Education level;

*Geographic region;

*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 $90,000.

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.

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 $89,000 and an employee at the top level position with 10 to 20 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $99,000.

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).

Reference: PayScale

Highest Median Salaries by Geographical Location

The Median Salaries by Geographical Location:

Alabama Computer Forensics Salaries: $83,000

Alaska Computer Forensics Salaries: $72,000

Arizona Computer Forensics Salaries: $66,000

Arkansas Computer Forensics Salaries: $84,000

California Computer Forensics Salaries: $76,000

Colorado Computer Forensics Salaries: $69,000

Connecticut Computer Forensics Salaries: $84,000

Delaware Computer Forensics Salaries: $75,000

District of Columbia Computer Forensics Salaries: $91,000

Florida Computer Forensics Salaries: $73,000

Georgia Computer Forensics Salaries: $86,000

Hawaii Computer Forensics Salaries: $59,000

Idaho Computer Forensics Salaries: $69,000

Illinois Computer Forensics Salaries: $80,000

Indiana Computer Forensics Salaries: $74,000

Iowa Computer Forensics Salaries: $76,000

Kansas Computer Forensics Salaries: $70,000

Kentucky Computer Forensics Salaries: $69,000

Louisiana Computer Forensics Salaries: $74,000

Maine Computer Forensics Salaries: $56,000

Maryland Computer Forensics Salaries: $81,000

Massachusetts Computer Forensics Salaries: $87,000

Michigan Computer Forensics Salaries: $78,000

Minnesota Computer Forensics Salaries: $69,000

Mississippi Computer Forensics Salaries: $85,000

Missouri Computer Forensics Salaries: $75,000

Montana Computer Forensics Salaries: $61,000

Nebraska Computer Forensics Salaries: $71,000

Nevada Computer Forensics Salaries: $72,000

New Hampshire Computer Forensics Salaries: $65,000

New Jersey Computer Forensics Salaries: $84,000

New Mexico Computer Forensics Salaries: $93,000

New York Computer Forensics Salaries: $91,000

North Carolina Computer Forensics Salaries: $76,000

North Dakota Computer Forensics Salaries: $76,000

Ohio Computer Forensics Salaries: $75,000

Oklahoma Computer Forensics Salaries: $72,000

Oregon Computer Forensics Salaries: $78,000

Pennsylvania Computer Forensics Salaries: $73,000

Rhode Island Computer Forensics Salaries: $75,000

South Carolina Computer Forensics Salaries: $64,000

South Dakota Computer Forensics Salaries: $70,000

Tennessee Computer Forensics Salaries: $77,000

Texas Computer Forensics Salaries: $74,000

Utah Computer Forensics Salaries: $66,000

Vermont Computer Forensics Salaries: $70,000

Virginia Computer Forensics Salaries: $87,000

Washington Computer Forensics Salaries: $77,000

West Virginia Computer Forensics Salaries: $97,000

Wisconsin Computer Forensics Salaries: $60,000

Wyoming Computer Forensics Salaries: $85,000

SOURCE: http://www.computer-forensics-recruiter.com/salaries/computer_forensics_states_salaries/#context/api/listings/prefilter

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 $69,629. 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.

Reference: PayScale

Other Salaries 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.

Computer Forensics Training

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 which 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.

http://www.trainace.com/the-average-salary-of-a-computer-forensics-career-and-the-ec-council-chfi-certification/

https://www.criminaljusticedegreeschools.com/criminal-justice-careers/computer-forensics-investigator/

https://digital-forensics.sans.org/certification

https://www.concise-courses.com/digital-forensics-certifications/

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