Jobs of the Future: Forensic Computer Analyst

Find out what a Forensic Computer Analyst does and what it takes to begin a career in digital forensics.

The last two decades have seen job markets across the world change drastically, with technological change and economic uncertainty shaping employment opportunities.

In the UK, an increase in automation has reduced roles within retail, manufacturing, healthcare, and financial services, and media and public services have been overhauled by digitalisation and widespread access to the internet.

Despite fewer jobs in many sectors, change has also brought fresh opportunities. From green energy to software programming, data analysis and cyber security, new candidates are needed to supply these recently emerged markets.

The challenge is often a lack of awareness around new roles. Around 75% of parents feel it’s impossible to give relevant career advice in a fast-changing jobs market, and 70% of secondary school students feel unsure about their future careers.

In this series, we aim to shine a light on some of the exciting job roles available to young people. Last time we looked at what it takes to become a UX Designer. Next up we’re looking at digital forensics, specifically the role of a Forensic Computer Analyst.

What is digital forensics?

Digital forensics is a forensic science that focuses on the investigation of digital devices to recover material related to cybercrime and criminal investigations. It is the process of identifying and documenting digital evidence to present in court.

Within an increasingly digital world, cybercrime is prevalent and constantly evolving. Preventing and investigating cybercrime and criminal activities taking place online requires a specialist skillset and an understanding of computers and data analysis.

What is a Forensic Computer Analyst?

It is the job of a Forensic Computer Analyst to investigate and build evidence for cybercrime and other online criminal activities. A Forensic Computer Analyst uses specialised software and techniques to retrieve and analyse data linked to criminal activities.

What does a Forensic Computer Analyst investigate?

Digital forensics includes investigations into a range of crimes involving computers. The computer might be the object of the crime, or it might be used to commit the crime. A Forensic Computer Analyst would investigate the following illegal activities:

• Hacking
• Terrorism
• Data breaches
• Online scams and fraud
• Political, industrial and commercial espionage
• Identity and information theft
• Illegal images

What does a Forensic Computer Analyst do?

The role involves retrieving, analysing and securing digital evidence from data stored on devices including personal or work computers, external drives, tablets, mobile phones, and the cloud.

As a Forensic Computer Analyst, you'll need to:

• Recover damaged, deleted or encrypted files
• Unlock images that hide the identity of a place or person
• Deal with highly sensitive and confidential data
• Secure a system or device to prevent tampering
• Examine mobile phone and satellite navigation system data
• Follow data trails to reveal links or communications
• Build evidence in a legally admissible way
• Present findings to wider investigation teams, law enforcement agencies and clients
• Write technical reports based on your findings
• Give evidence in court as an expert witness, where required
• Keep up to date with cybercrime methods and developments
• Undergo security checks and vetting procedures
• Work to the required governing standards

Where do Forensic Computer Analysts work?

Many people working within digital forensics are employed by the police and other law enforcement agencies. There are roles within companies specialising in computer forensics, or you may work within an investigative team for large company such as a bank.

Most likely, the role will be office or computer lab based. Depending on what organisation you work for, you might occasionally need to travel to visit crime scenes, attend meetings or go to court.

How much does a Forensic Computer Analyst earn?

The typical starting salary for a Forensic Computer Analyst is around £21,000 to £25,000 a year. With experience, you can earn £30,000 to £45,000 a year. More senior roles can earn up to £80,000.

What qualifications do you need to become a Forensic Computer Analyst?

Most Forensic Computer Analysts gain their entry level position following the completion of an undergraduate degree. Courses with industry placements will help you develop your skills and could improve your CV when it comes to applying for entry level positions.

Consider these degree courses:

• Computer science
• Cyber security
• Forensic computing and security
• Financial technology
• Digital forensics

Entry requirements:

To complete an undergraduate degree, you'll usually need 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent. For a postgraduate degree or master’s qualification, you would need an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject.

Apprenticeships for digital forensics

It is possible to complete a cyber security technologist higher apprenticeship or take a cyber security technical professional degree apprenticeship.

Entry requirements:

To go down the apprenticeship route, you need 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship.

Things to expect when working as a Forensic Computer Analyst:

• You might also have to view sensitive information and images.
• You might not be able to talk about the details of your job outside work, particularly if you work in government, the Ministry of Defence or police departments.
• You may also have to attend the scene of crime to seize items or examine devices.
• You may be required to give evidence in court as an expert witness.
• Your employer might require you to be security cleared.

Digital forensic opportunities are available throughout the UK and internationally, with roles mainly in cities and towns.

We hope you found this useful and understand a bit more about a career in digital forensics. Are you looking for careers advice? If you are aged under 19, get free advice on the MyDirections website. Powered by the Careers Advisers at C+K, MyDirections provides young people with the information they need to make decisions about the future. Alternatively, get in touch with us on 01484 242000 or email

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