Digital crimes are on the rise. Based on the PWC 2020 survey, 34% of all incidents of fraud involved cybercrime. This is an increase over past years, and it only comes in second to customer fraud by 1%. Unfortunately, many companies who are at risk for cybercrimes are not equipped to manage that risk, leaving them and their customers vulnerable. A degree in digital forensics prepares a student for a career fighting those risks and protecting companies and governments from hackers and cybercriminals.
What exactly can you do with a cybersecurity or digital forensics degree? Here is a closer look at the career options available for professionals who pursue this path.
What Is Digital Forensics?
Digital forensics takes forensic science as a discipline and applies it to digital risks and crimes. Those who work in digital forensics often find, assess, and prevent cybercrime and mitigate cyber risks. Digital forensics professionals work daily to stop hackers and other cybercriminals. They also build security protocols to protect an organization's infrastructure from digital attacks. They may help recover lost and stolen data.
A digital forensics professional will investigate data and find appropriate ways to respond when threats appear. These professionals often have a background in computer science, and a master's degree in digital forensics can provide the tools to launch this additional career path.
6 Digital Forensics Career Paths
What career paths are available to someone who has a degree in digital forensics? There are many paths and jobs available for those studying to earn their digital forensics degree. You will be able to work in the public sector for government agencies, state law enforcement, or for crime labs. You can find different job outlooks for each one of these areas in digital forensics. While there are many job titles for these professionals, some common career paths include:
1. Information Systems Security Professional
An entry-level position in the field, information systems security professionals work to protect an organization from cybercrimes by ensuring their data is properly secured. They may test vulnerabilities and analyze results to strengthen security. Work experience is important in this role, as is the underlying degree the person holds.
2. Forensic Computer Analyst
For this role, the student needs at least a bachelor's degree in digital forensics or a similar cyber field, and a master's degree in digital forensics is helpful. These professionals don't just protect organizations, they dig into the "scene of the crime" when cybercrimes happen. They will gather data and track down criminals so law enforcement can make the necessary arrests. A forensic computer analyst may work for an organization or work directly with law enforcement. These are often the IT people called on to pull data from destroyed devices in criminal investigations.
3. Information Security Analyst
This is another career path that requires a bachelor's degree as a minimum. These professionals are the ones that take proactive action to prevent cyber threats. They keep an eye on digital networks and take action at the first sign of a breach. They also help companies keep their software and hardware up-to-date to protect the data they contain.
4. Malware Analyst
A malware analyst focuses on identifying and analyzing bots, viruses, worms, and other types of malware. Malware is the hostile software that hackers often use to get access to databases and computer systems. Malware is based on code that constantly changes, so these professionals need detailed training in programming languages and strong analytic skills. They also often have to reverse engineer a threat in order to find its origins, so training in ethical hacking is important.
5. Computer Forensics Examiner
Like the information security analyst, the computer forensics examiner often works with law enforcement or private investigation firms to help with forensics involving technology. They can dig into the data to find information hidden on laptops, cameras, tablets, phones, and other digital devices. They may also be able to recover data from damaged devices.
6. Security Consultant
A security consultant takes the knowledge gained from a digital forensics degree and translates that into a consultant's role. This professional will provide advice and consultative services to businesses to help them assess and protect themselves against cyber risks. They may help develop protection protocols or simply advise the company on how to do so. The consultant may be brought in to deal with the aftermath of a cyberattack, as well.
Other Digital Forensics Job Titles
There are additional job titles that a degree in digital forensics can access for you. While these have similar job responsibilities, they have different names when you look through job boards, including:
- Computer Forensics Technician
- Information Systems Security Analyst
- Digital Crime Specialist
Career Outlook for Digital Forensics Professionals
Digital forensics careers, regardless of their titles, can be highly lucrative positions and are in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average salary for information security analysts to be $99,730 in 2019, and the demand is expected to grow by 32% over much of the next decade, which is much faster than average. This is just one of the many roles within this career path, but the others have similar demand and higher than average salaries.
Curious about digital forensics careers? Consider a Master's Degree in Digital Forensics. For someone with an analytical mind and an interest in technology, digital forensics can be a rewarding career field. The right training can launch that career path.
If you’re interested in a career in digital forensics, consider earning your master’s degree in digital forensics from the University of the Cumberlands. With professors who have years of real-world experience in the same field they are teaching, very competitive tuition rates, and a sense of honor in everything we do, why look any further? See what UC can do for you by contacting an admissions counselor for more information.