A Computer Forensics Investigator or Forensic Analyst is a specially trained professional who works with law enforcement agencies, as well as private firms, to retrieve information from computers and other types of data storage devices. Equipment can often be damaged either externally or internally corrupted by hacking or viruses.
The Forensic Analyst is most well known for working within the law enforcement industry; however, he or she can also be tasked to test the security of a private company's information systems. The Analyst should have an excellent working knowledge of all aspects of the computer including but not limited to hard drives, networking, and encryption. Patience and the willingness to work long hours are qualities that are well-suited for this position.
Job Duties List
During criminal investigations, an Analyst recovers and examines data from computers and other electronic storage devices in order to use the data as evidence in criminal prosecutions. When equipment is damaged, the Analyst must dismantle and rebuild the system in order to recover lost data.
Following data retrieval, the Analyst writes up technical reports detailing how the computer evidence was discovered and all of the steps taken during the retrieval process. The Analyst also gives testimony in court regarding the evidence he or she collected. The Analyst keeps current on new methodologies and forensic technology, and trains law enforcement officers on proper procedure with regard to computer evidence.
Analysts who work for state or federal law enforcement agencies usually earn a starting salary of between $50,000 and $75,000. Salary can increase with experience, advanced degrees, and security clearance. Analysts may also take home larger salaries when employed by private government contractors.
Private corporations or consulting firms pay starting salaries of between $50,000 and $60,000. Analysts who work in major cities like Washington DC and Los Angeles can make more than those who work in less high-tech cities. More experience and advanced degrees can bring higher salaries. Analysts who move on to senior managerial positions within consulting firms can earn between $100,000 and $200,000.