Criminal Justice Degree Career Options – Cyber Forensics

Do you have a love for technology and criminal justice? If so, then a career in cyber forensics may be your ideal choice. This dynamic and essential criminal justice career works closely with law enforcement agencies to retrieve vital information within computers and other digital environments. Due to the increase of computers in our society, the need for well-trained and talented cyber forensic professionals is on the rise. While this profession requires specialized training, the job outlook and average salary are well worth any additional training outside of a criminal justice degree.

Job Functions of a Cyber Forensic Analysts

When a digital crime occurs, or even a physical crime, cyber forensic analysts are called in to extract and investigate data gathered from digital storage devices and computers. The basic purpose of this job is to gather digital evidence to help clarify a crime. Based upon their findings, this evidence is then used for either the prosecution or defense in a criminal case. There are many times when a digital data is destroyed in an attempt to cover up a crime. Cyber forensic analysts are trained to recover damaged and lost data to help rebuild the digital landscape of a crime.

Once data is retrieved from its host, the cyber forensic analyst combs through this gathered information with the primary goal of detailing their findings in reports, which are used by law enforcement officers and attorneys to help clarify any situation that’s involved in a case. These professionals are also required to give their testimony of their findings in court cases for either the prosecution or defense. This professional-level career requires consistent training on the latest methodologies and technologies to gather digital information according to They must also be comfortable training others on how to handle and safeguard computer/digital evidence.

Salary Outlook for Cyber Forensic Analysts

While the exact starting salary for this professional can vary based upon the industry and employer, the U.S. Department of Labor states the average starting salary for this position in 2014 is between $50,000 and $75,000 per year. However, as you advanced in your experience, or if you obtain advanced-level degrees, this salary will increase. The highest paid cyber forensic analysts are those who work for private firms. Once you work your way up to senior management positions within digital security consulting firms, you can bring home anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 per year.

Criminal Justice Degree Career Options – CSI

If you’re interested in cultivating a career within the criminal justice system, but you wish to avoid traditional law enforcement roles, then you may desire a career as a CSI professional, or a crime scene investigator. CSI careers are among the most flexible and critical in the realm of criminal justice. As a crime scene investigator, you’re called in after a crime has occurred to the investigate the scene of the crime with the primary goal of gathering physical evidence to help catch or convict a criminal. While this field requires specialized studies, the majority of positions require a degree in criminal justice with electives that involve CSI work.

Career Opportunities as a Crime Scene Investigator

Like many law enforcement career options, a career within the CSI realm can be specialized in specific roles. The following are the most common career opportunities a criminal justice student may pursue according to Criminal Justice Schools Today:

Crime Laboratory Analyst – This position conducts scientific and technical examinations with the goal of gathering data from a crime scene and documenting their findings. If you’re searching for a hands on career that utilizes the latest technologies to identify and study various forms of crime scene evidence, this is the ideal career for you. Other job duties involve conducting experiments, formulating theories based upon evidence and reporting these conclusions in writing for law enforcement officers. Generally, crime laboratory analysts are essential for defense or prosecution attorneys, and they’re often called in to witness for court proceedings.
Crime Scene Analyst – This profession works closely with law enforcement officers to not only process a crime scene, but to reconstruct the events that took place during the crime. Common job functions include the gathering evidence, preserving this evidence and evaluating its importance. Other duties include fingerprint collection and examination, photographing the crime scene and analyzing physical evidence, which include identifying and gathering human fluids and tissue samples. This is a highly detailed profession, thus an attention to detail and meticulous reporting skills is essential.
Forensic Scientist – This profession works remotely in a laboratory. These specialists perform a variety of tests on physical evidence to help clarify criminal cases. Typical job functions include identifying biological substances and other forms of physical evidence. Using the latest identification techniques, forensic scientists delve deeper into physical evidence to identify chemical compositions and other identifying markers of evidence. Sometimes, a forensic scientist must join law enforcement officers in the field to help reconstruct crime scenes or by preserving specific pieces of evidence, such as making plaster casts to preserve tire tracks or footprints.
Criminalist – This is among the most valuable role within the CSI team. These professionals generally analyze human tissue to determine the level of various substances; however, they are involved in investigating the smaller, more detailed physical evidence, such as analyzing handwriting, fingerprints and printing techniques help identify its original source. They also are called upon to identify and determine the use of weapons, such as analyzing gun residue and fired bullets. These professionals must be comfortable dealing with bodily fluids and analyzing these fluids for physiological evidence.