Cyber crime investigators, or computer forensic investigators, search for evidence of computer-related crimes. Investigators conduct their work by both the seizure and analysis of computers, and by using computers to seek out cyber criminals. Cyber crime investigators also implement countermeasures against computer attacks. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, career opportunities as a cyber crime investigator should grow at the brisk rate of more than 22 per cent between 2008 and 2018. With increasing dependence on the Internet and computers to facilitate interactions between individuals and businesses, the industry anticipates an increase in cyber crime. The best way to become a cyber crime investigator is to begin with formal education and training in the field.
- Skill level:
Complete a specialised degree or training program. Enrol in a computer science, information technology, or a related engineering degree program. Advanced knowledge in computer software and networking is imperative to a cyber crime investigator. Select college institutions also offer programs specifically for cyber crime. For example, Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland offers a two-year Associate of Applied Sciences degree in cyber crime.
Earn a certificate in Computer Forensics. The International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners (ISFCE) offers a training and certification program for potential cyber crime investigators. Holding a certificate as a Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) sets you apart as a professional in the field of cyber investigation. Also, according to the ISFCE, a growing number of companies and law enforcement agencies require cyber investigators to have a CCE certification.
Apply for a cyber crime position. Search job boards and inquire directly with companies you are interested in working for. Cyber crime investigators can work as independent contractors, for a private company or with the government. As an independent contractor, you have flexibility but must constantly seek regular work. Employment in the private sector is desirable because it is stable with a competitive pay scale and offers further career training and advancement. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security are examples of government agencies that employ computer forensic investigators. Similar to the private sector, working with the government provides job stability, opportunities for additional training and potential for advancement. However, the salary scale for government positions is usually less than that of private companies.
Tips and warnings
- Take extra courses in criminal justice and accounting to supplement your education. Knowledge in these areas are desirable to many cyber crime investigator employers.
- Be prepared to undergo a criminal background check by employers, especially when working with the government. Criminal history will negatively impact your job application.
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