How Do You Become a Digital Forensic Analyst?

If you’re wondering how to become a digital forensic analyst, it’s important to understand the education requirements, experience, and training you’ll need to begin your career. Digital forensic analysts, also known as forensic computer analysts, work in a variety of areas, including private sector and corporate investigative organizations, law enforcement, local and federal government, and national defense. Analysts retrieve erased or encrypted data from smartphones, computers and other digital devices. Analysts must then analyze and restore the information to its undamaged, original state, a task that requires specialized tools and skills. The information recovered can be used for national security purposes, in conjunction with criminal investigations, or for use in legal proceedings.

Education Requirements

First, digital forensic analysts will need a secondary education that prepares them for intensive digital investigative work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are bachelor’s and associate’s degree programs that cover crucial digital data coursework in procedures, law, computer and network security, hacking, operating system forensics, and forensics as a whole. Aspiring digital forensic analysts may consider a bachelor’s degree program that offers digital forensics as a minor such as computer science, law, criminal justice, or finance. Regardless of the degree, the courses remain similar across the board.

Finding Employment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that some digital forensic analysts learn the specifics of the field while they work for a local law enforcement agency who sponsors forensic training programs. Forensic computer analysts may seek employment with local and state government agencies to work in their administrative offices, which are often at risk of spyware and hackers. The legal industry also makes use of forensic computer professionals to recover evidence from digital devices for litigation.

Obtaining Certification

Digital forensic analysts may seek a number of certifications ranging from very specific to more general. For instance, after passing a written test, a practical exam, and a Federal Bureau of Investigations background check, analysts may earn a CyberSecurity Forensic Analyst (CSFA) certification from the CyberSecurity Institute. The International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS) provides a Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE) certification that involves a practical exercise, a test, and a peer-review phase. Other certifications include the Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) certification from the International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners (ISFCE), the Certified Forensic Analyst Certification (GCFA) from the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC), and a certification from the Digital Forensics Certification Board (DFCB).

Continuing Education and Training

Regardless of the certifications a digital forensic analyst earns, all certifications require analysts to complete a minimum number of hours in continuing education for recertification. Forensic analysts who fail to keep up-to-date with the latest technology will be less competitive than others in the field. Maintaining certification demonstrates that an analyst knows how to use the latest technology on modern computing devices so that he or she can continue to efficiently and effectively perform his or her data recovery duties. Prospective employers look for analysts who have the drive and dedication to invest in themselves and their careers.

Related Resources: What is an Information Technology Specialist?

Aspiring digital forensic analysts generally need a bachelor’s degree in a field such as computer security, computer forensics, or digital forensics. Students may also consider one or more voluntary certifications to strengthen their resumes. Digital forensic analysts should also have several key skills, including knowledge of all operating systems, evidence of chain-of-custody procedures, good communication skills, accurate and comprehensive report-writing skills, and a strong analytical ability.