Computer forensics is a challenging IT discipline and experienced and certified professionals are in high demand. Yet computer forensics certs remain something of a wild frontier. From two dozen available credentials, we list the five best options for 2017.
Credit: ShutterstockToday, there is an appreciable number of available, high-quality certification programs that focus on digital investigations and computer forensics. However, there are also certifications and programs in this area that are far less transparent, well documented and widely known.
What's creating this demand for new programs in computer forensics? Consider the following:
- For many years, computer crime has continued to escalate. As more cybercrimes get reported, more investigations and qualified investigators are needed. This is good news for law enforcement and private investigators who specialize in computer forensics.
- There's a high demand for qualified computer forensics professionals because nearly every police department needs trained candidates with suitable credentials.
- IT professionals interested in working for the federal government (either as full-time employees or private contractors) must meet certain minimum training standards in information security. Computer forensics qualifies as part of the mix needed to meet them, which further adds to the demand for certified computer forensics professionals.
As a result, there is a continuing rise of companies that offer computer forensic training and certifications continues to grow. Alas, many of these are "private label" credentials that are not well recognized. Making sense of all options and finding the certification that's right for you may be trickier than it seems.
This 2015 SearchSecurity.com information security certifications article, which focuses on vendor-neutral certifications, lists two dozen computer forensics and anti-hacking credentials. These are all well-known and on the up and up. We deliberately ignored programs that don't publish the size of their certified populations or that are associated with mandatory high-dollar training.
Note: A small certified population can sometimes mean that a program is just getting started or not doing very well. We generally look for programs with no fewer than 5,000 certified professionals, by contrast, though some programs with lower certified populations — for example, the CSFA included in our top five list this year — do register on our radar. Be warned, however, that expensive training sometimes indicates a strong profit or financial motive in signing people up for certification.
We also looked at several popular online job boards to determine the number of advertised positions that require these certifications. While the actual results vary from day to day (and job board to job board), this should give you an idea of the number of computer forensic jobs with specific certification requirements.
Computer Forensics Certification Job Postings
The average salary for intermediate-level computer forensic jobs in the U.S. — $69,578, according to SimpyHired — trails that of network engineers, system administrators and project managers. However, a senior specialist or forensic analyst can command more than $90,000, whether in private industry or working in government channels.
After a closer analysis of the available programs out there, we've identified the five best computer forensics certifications for 2017.
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