People who have a fascination with computer technology and criminal justice should consider a career in computer forensics. In the business field computer networks and the information within them have become more and more sophisticated in just a few short decades. However, this also makes these systems and sensitive information vulnerable. The work of computer forensic professionals helps to protect computer systems from the work of cyber criminals who not only steal from individuals, but also attempt to hinder commercial activities over the Internet. Computer forensic professionals can also work with and criminal justice fields, investigating computer-related criminal activity, finding evidence, and often using it in court. Careers within the computer forensics fields can be found both in the public and private sector.
Degrees in computer forensics can be found at the certificate, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree level. Certificate programs in computer forensics are often intended for people who already have a formal education and are working in the computer and information technology industry. For example, West Virginia University offers certificate programs in computer forensics for this purpose. In order to take part, students must already have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer engineering.
Associate degree programs offer a more in-depth education in computer forensics then a certificate program. They are designed to give students an education that prepares them for entry-level career opportunities in the government, private sector, or in law enforcement. For example, Dallas County Community College offers an associate degree program in digital forensics. Students can choose from to specializations, cyber crime or information assurance.
Bachelor’s degree programs in computer forensics offer a broader education. In most schools, students often have general requirements to complete before taking courses in computer forensics. For example, Champlain College offers a bachelor's degree program in computer forensics and digital investigations. They give students a hands-on education with the latest information in the forensic analysis of computers, networks, and mobile devices. Their courses cover criminal law, networking fundamentals, laboratory forensic science, cyber crime, and much more.
Those who wish to earn a master’s degree in computer forensics must already have a bachelor’s degree in a related matter, science, or business field. Graduate-level degree programs offer specialized education within the computer forensics field. For example, George Mason University offers a master degree program in computer forensics. Students with a 3.0 GPA or higher, or a 2.8 GPA with work experience can find that they can enter into the program.
In many states computer forensic specialists are require certification from agencies like the Global Information Assurance Certification so that they may testify as a specialist in court.
Admissions requirements can vary depending on the college or university and the level of their degree program. Students can expect to submit grade transcripts, standardized test scores and letters of recommendation. In order to be admitted into a computer forensics degree program, students must complete courses in math, science, and technology.
The cost of tuition will vary depending on the school and the degree program. Trade schools often offer programs in forensic science and tend to be less expensive than colleges and universities. Attending school online can also be less expensive than going to school on campus. Students of computer forensics in traditional fourth-year programs can expect to pay anywhere from $9,000-to-$45,000 per year for tuition, books, boarding, and other expenses.
Students looking for the right education should make sure that the school and degree program they are applying to is of properly accredited, to ensure the school has high academic standards. Degree programs in computer forensics are often accredited by the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists or the Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory. These two agencies analyze degree programs in computer forensics to ensure that they can properly prepare students for a career in the field.
When choosing a degree in computer forensics, student should consider their future career goals as a will determine the education level that they need. They should also look for programs that offer hands-on training and the latest technological equipment. Both of these factors will give students experience that employers are looking for.
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