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As anyone who’s ever been interested (or rather, obsessed) with crime shows like CSI knows, forensics means police work and crime solving. Typically, this word brings to mind evidence like carpet fuzz and bloody gloves, but when you’re talking about computer forensics, the work is a little less dirty, though just as dramatic.
Computer forensics involves crime as it relates to computers—either criminal acts done with a computer, or evidence stashed on a computer. For example, you could deal with online identity theft, online fraud, online child pornography, or cyber criminals who create viruses that end up shutting down entire companies. You might gather evidence on these crimes from confiscated computers, or work with infected computers to track down who’s to blame.
Although a certification in computer forensics might sound like you’re preparing yourself to investigate murdered software or kidnapped data programs, in reality, you deal with the computers used to perpetuate the crimes.
This is a newer field in the crime-fighting world, so degree programs vary. For the most part, degrees are available from online computer forensics programs. With these online programs, you can complete anything from a short certificate program to a longer bachelor’s degree. Which one you choose really depends on how long you’re willing to be in school and where you’d like to work when you’re done.
When you finish your degree, you shouldn’t have a problem finding job opportunities. Everyone from police departments to big businesses to the FBI hire for this position. As of now, most of these places require new hires to have little more than a degree and a few years of on-the-job experience.
If you hope to work for the FBI or a police department, you’ll need to check out their specific requirements as some ask not only for a degree but also that you complete training, just like any other officer.