Master's in Digital Forensics: Salary and Career Outlook
Is Digital Forensics a Good Career?
Digital forensics applies scientific investigative techniques to the collection, examination, and recovery of digital evidence or information. Working in both public and private sectors, digital forensics technicians collect and investigate digital evidence, secure breaches from cyber criminals, prevent future threats, and restore compromised data.
As companies continue to take advantage of new technologies and shift to storing more of their internal information and private user data online, the threats of digital breaches and cybercrime become more prevalent. With a growing need to protect digital infrastructures from hackers, computer analysts with digital forensics training and expertise are in high demand. Data from 2019 reveals that the demand for digital forensics technicians is expected to grow by 32% through 2028.
Since best practices continue to shift along with emerging technology, this fast-growing field is becoming extremely competitive. Therefore, it’s important to set yourself apart from the sea of qualified applicants applying to digital forensics jobs. One way to stand out as a desirable candidate is by advancing your academic credentials with a master’s degree. A graduate degree demonstrates your specialized expertise and technical abilities to potential employers and can, ultimately, expand your earning potential and expedite your upward mobility within a company.
According to PayScale, master’s degree-holders earn an estimated median annual computer forensics salary of $72,955, making the investment in a digital forensics degree worth it.
Types of Digital Forensics Career Paths
Digital forensics specialists work in a wide range of industries, from private firms to government agencies. Some of the top industries that hire digital forensics analysts include information technology and services, computer software, and the defense and space industries.
Specific job prospects and expected salaries are usually determined by the level of education, technical skills, industry, type and length of experience, geographic location, and other variables. However, as an in-demand career, digital forensics tends to be a rewarding and highly lucrative field of work.
Here are some of the common positions within the landscape of digital forensics and computer security:
Computer Forensics Analyst
Computer forensics analysts examine digital evidence after a cyber attack and work to restore any compromised data and files. Analysts have a background in computer science, with a working knowledge of software and hardware, programming languages, digital surveillance, and hacking techniques. The average annual computer forensics analyst salary in the United States is $100,063.
Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts maintain a secure information technology architecture. These professionals work to secure information breaches, research best practices, and perform system vulnerability testing to avoid cyber attacks. According to data from 2019, the median annual wage for information security analysts is $99,730.
Studies show that about 26% of information security analysts hold a master’s or doctoral degree, reinforcing how advanced education can lead to a higher salary. Many will agree, this makes earning a digital forensics degree worth it.
Cybersecurity consultants protect either a company or client’s digital assets by auditing current software and information systems to provide IT solutions that optimize current and implement new security measures. Cybersecurity consultants can freelance for their own clients or work for a larger consulting firm. In the United States, the average annual salary for a cybersecurity analyst is $115,767.
Malware analysts specialize in analyzing and proactively combatting malware, which includes viruses, bugs, bots, and other issues that can steal or corrupt private information. Malware code is constantly changing and can present itself in many forms, so malware analysts must be proficient in many programming languages, software development, reverse-engineering, and data recovery. The median salary for malware analysts is around $90,383.
Cryptographers develop algorithms that encrypt sensitive information, or vise versa, work to decrypt information. Cryptography is an essential field for modern businesses, keeping both organizational and user information private. Cryptographers need extensive knowledge of programming languages and a deep understanding of hardware systems, which makes it a lucrative field. The median cryptographer salary is $145,356 nationwide.
All of these forensic IT jobs require a background in computer science, programming skills, and a working knowledge of today’s best practices for keeping digital information and networks secure from malware and hackers. Other job titles and career paths may include homeland security official, business intelligence analyst, computer crime investigator, or information technology auditor.
Champlain's Master’s Program in Digital Forensic Science
Champlain College Online offers a top-ranked, nationally recognized master’s program in digital forensic science. This cutting-edge curriculum offers experiential learning that focuses on the real-world application of investigative techniques and highlights today’s best practices to prepare professionals to excel in this in-demand field.
Champlain is a nationally recognized leader in digital forensics, having been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the U.S. National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence by the Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) Air Force Office of Special Investigations. These distinctive ratings set graduates of Champlain College Online’s master’s degree in digital forensic science up for unmatched personal and professional success.
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