An online computer forensics master's degree provides a pathway to careers in government, law enforcement, and financial services. As dependence on information technology spreads, many organizations rely on specialists to monitor hardware and software vulnerabilities, recover and protect data, and collect and analyze digital evidence. Fields like information security, criminal investigation, and cybercrime require technologically savvy and detailed-oriented professionals with an analytical mindset and up-to-date-skills acquired through graduate training.
Students entering an online digital forensics master's often have undergraduate degrees in computer science, criminal justice, or natural science. Some master's programs prefer applicants with backgrounds in computer programming, operating systems, or networks. Many students prefer the flexibility and convenience of an online computer forensics master's over traditional on-campus programs. The round-the-clock accessibility appeals to working professionals, and the self-paced courses and web-based format works well for parents who are unable to enroll in full-time, campus-based programs.
Graduates of an online computer forensics master's program can expect to find expanding and well-paying employment possibilities across the U.S., as technicians, data analysts, and administrators. Computer systems analysts, for example, earn a mean salary of $92,740 annually. California, Texas, and New York provide the most employment opportunities for systems analysts. New York, California, Virginia, and Texas offer the highest salaries, well above the national average.
As the field grows, job experience pays off. Forensic computer analysis rewards professionals with experience, awarding the highest salaries to those with 10 or more years in the field.
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Graduates with an online computer forensics master's find placements in government agencies, law enforcement, and security firms recovering and analyzing digital evidence. Forensic specialists of all kinds find employment in private industries and financial organizations, monitoring computer networks and data storage systems. If you understand computer technology and applications, have an aptitude for data collection and analysis, and enjoy the challenge of investigation and research, consider one of the emerging career possibilities in computer forensics, including but not limited to these options:
Annual Median Salary: $70,398
These specialists analyze large amounts of computer-based information. Their duties include examining hard drives and data storage devices to discover user patterns and recovering information from corrupted devices. Most positions require at least a bachelor's in computer forensics. Many employers look for graduate-trained analysts or those with knowledge of industry best practices and work experience.
Annual Median Salary: $71,831
Computer security specialists oversee and troubleshoot security systems, administer updates, and conduct periodic testing in many organizational settings. These professionals must be knowledgeable about security products such as VPN, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems. They must stay current in the field to anticipate new threats and utilize the best available applications. Because of the skills required, many employers seek specialists with graduate training and work experience.
Annual Median Salary: $70,614
These professionals conduct forensic investigations of digital information and electronic discovery for criminal, legal, and corporate entities. Their responsibilities include investigations, eDiscovery, digital forensics, and incident response. They also develop and administer strategic initiatives and policy for IP protection and data security. A growing number of employers require their investigators to hold specialized certifications and master's degrees.
Annual Median Salary: $70,614
These analysts employ forensic applications to collect, summarize, and interpret evidence for the investigation of criminal, financial, and corporate crime. In some positions, they monitor cybersecurity to protect computer networks and systems from external attacks and anticipate external vulnerabilities. Data analysts must keep current with the latest IT security applications. These specialists usually have a bachelor's degree in computer forensics and many obtain advanced training at the graduate level and/or specialized certifications.
Annual Median Salary: $60,769
Working in law enforcement agencies, forensic examiners retrieve information from computers and other electronic storage devices for evidence of illegal activity. They recover data like documents, images, and e-mails from hard drives and other data storage devices that have been deleted, damaged, or otherwise manipulated. A master's degree in computer forensics provides a competitive edge for these positions.
Each online computer forensics master's degree program has its own curriculum and focus. However, the majority of master's programs share a similar structure and common elements. Students first complete the core foundational courses, followed by electives and specialized courses that directly relate to their theses or culminating capstone projects.
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