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The Front Lines of Digital Defense: How to Prepare for an Exciting Career as a Forensic Expert

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Thu, 04/23/2020 - 1:05pm

Every day, new headlines remind us of the dangers of the digital world. The most notable hacks of the past several years impacted hundreds of millions of victims, many of whom suffered identity theft, destroyed technology, and incurred major financial losses.
 
Unfortunately, the danger isn't about to slow down; if anything, hackers are ramping up their efforts with complicated schemes that make it difficult for the average people to protect themselves.
 
The hope of a secure online experience may seem dim, but some of the world's brightest and most passionate individuals are hard at work to keep internet users safe. Forensic experts find themselves at the front line of this modern battle, in which nothing can be counted on besides a rapid pace of change. 

Exciting Opportunities in the Field of Digital Forensics

Having observed the fallout of incidents such as the Equifax breach, organizations of all sizes and across a vast array of fields are determined to secure the best possible protection. Many make huge efforts to court today's most passionate forensic experts who are widely regarded as the most effective resources for defending against the hackers of tomorrow.
 
The significant changes currently at play in forensics are evidenced by a 2019 study published on MarketWatch which suggests that the forensics market could grow to a shocking $6.95 billion dollar industry by 2025—more than double its reach as of 2017. This explosive growth will prompt significant demand for skilled forensic experts, who, according to PayScale, already command average annual wages of $73,127. And wages are likely to increase as employers face a growing skills gap. Many are already making significant efforts to secure the field's most qualified experts.
 
Opportunity abounds in forensics, but the field holds its fair share of challenges. Due to the fast rate of change, digital forensics employees must constantly update their skills to ensure that they're equipped to face tomorrow's greatest threats. These may look little like the hazards that currently dominate headlines.
 
Hackers should not be underestimated in their ability to come up with new tools and techniques. With a commitment to proper training, however, forensic experts can make a real difference.
 

Becoming a Forensic Expert: The Importance of a Graduate Education

If you're passionate about technology, highly adaptable, and eager to learn, you could be a great candidate for a career in digital forensics. First, however, it's worth your while to consider how you will handle the challenges of this demanding profession—and the extensive and continued process of gaining the skills you'll need to succeed.
 
The first step towards making your mark in forensics involves obtaining your bachelor's degree. This is nearly always the lowest bar for employment, although the best positions now increasingly demand master's degrees. Either way, enrollment in a targeted program is critical. While the field calls for a variety of transferable skills, the most successful forensics employees are ultimately those with the most technical and in-depth backgrounds that they can draw on when facing new challenges.
 
Don't worry if you studied a different subject as an undergraduate student or completed your bachelor's degree years ago. While your technical skills may not currently be up to par, enrollment in the right academic program could make all the difference.
 
If you pursue a Master of Science in Digital Forensics, you can gain the targeted skills needed to address a variety of emerging threats. As a digital forensics student, you will take a wide array of courses designed to address the myriad of concerns currently facing the field. While attending these challenging, yet intriguing, classes, you will develop the abilities needed to keep you a step ahead of today’s most devious cybercriminals.
 
While working towards your Master of Science in Digital Forensics, you will take compelling courses such as:
•    Investigation and Triage
•    Laws, Regulations, Investigations, and Compliance
•    Digital Forensics Evidence
•    Web Browser Forensics
 
In addition to learning the theoretical basis underlying the modern field of forensics, you will apply your recently gained knowledge through hands-on experience. This will prepare you for the fast pace of your future work. Your greatest breakthroughs may arrive while completing a digital forensics capstone which allows you to dive in and address a realistic scenario, much as you would if you were already employed in the field of computer forensics.
 
The capstone process involves working closely with an expert to develop an urgent cybersecurity incident that could easily occur in the real world. From there, you'll analyze relevant data to be used in a carefully drafted and implemented response plan. These results will then be reported during a mock attorney presentation, echoing the actual process of having a forensics case picked up for prosecution. Employers find this level of capstone very compelling when looking at top candidates to fulfill their needs.
 
The process of preparing for a career in digital forensics is far from easy, but the same can be said of the field's most promising positions. Challenges include long hours, frustrating investigations, and a rapid pace of technological change that calls for the constant development of new competencies. Accompanying those challenges, however, is a real sense of satisfaction.
 
As a forensic expert, you will take pride in knowing that your efforts play a critical role in protecting a huge population of vulnerable internet users. Your hard work will ultimately pay off at both a personal and societal level.

If you wish to pursue a graduate degree that will lead to professional success in an in-demand field, look no further than University of the Cumberlands. Named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), UC provides targeted training through an acclaimed online Master in Digital Forensics program. See what UC can do for you by contacting an admissions counselor for more information.