Forensic Computer Examiner

Discover evidence on electronic devices for criminal cases and trials.
picture of Forensic Computer Examiner

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$33,000 – $83,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Forensic Computer Examiners do?

A Forensic Computer Examiner takes part in criminal investigations, collecting evidence stored in electronic devices. As a Forensic Computer Examiner, you typically work with computers, cell phones, and personal digital assistants, but can be asked to collect information from CDs, MP3 players, portable USB drives, and computer hardware as well. Your duties range from recovering deleted files to analyzing email metadata to reconstructing hard drives.

As a Forensic Computer Examiner, you have an arsenal of techniques at your disposal to pull information from an electronic device. If criminals think they can simply delete a file to hide it from you, they better think again. You have the nose of a bloodhound combined with the brain of Bill Gates.

Data files like emails or text messages continue to be stored in a system long after they’re deleted. Often, digital files contain information about who wrote, opened, or modified them. Using special software, you can also gain access to encrypted files, which normally cannot be opened because access privileges are limited.

In 2005, the infamous BTK serial killer was captured partly because he sent police digital files on a floppy disc. A Forensic Computer Examiner extracted information about his name and location from the files.

A major part of your job involves presenting your findings during trials. It’s important that you’re able to explain highly technical terminology to jurors who may not be computer-savvy. Testifying in court also requires that you keep meticulous notes when you conduct your investigations. Lawyers will ask you questions about your process, and you must be able to give them detailed answers.

Should I be a Forensic Computer Examiner?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.

  • Also known as: Firearms Examiner, Forensic Science Examiner, Grazing Examiner

    How to Become a
    Forensic Computer Examiner

    Most Forensic Computer Examiners have a Master's degree or a Bachelor's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:fzp9na&chl=no+college+%284%25%29|certificate+%2817%25%29|associate%27s+%2828%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2842%25%29|master%27s+%289%25%29|&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,4,42
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