Data & network

Forensic computer analyst

Forensic computer analysts investigate computer-based crime (cyber crime).

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £60,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

Variable

5%
Future employment

There will be 5% more Forensic computer analyst jobs in 2023.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You’ll be involved in a range of investigations, like:

  • hacking, online scams and fraud
  • political, industrial and commercial espionage
  • terrorist communications
  • possession of illegal pornography
  • theft of sensitive company information

One of your first tasks on a project will be to secure the IT system or hardware so that it can’t be tampered with. 

You’ll then use forensic methods and specialist computer programs to:

  • find, recover and copy data from disks that may have been hidden, encrypted or damaged
  • reveal digital images that have been altered to mask the identity of a place or person
  • analyse mobile phone records to trace devices to a particular location
  • follow electronic data trails to uncover links between individuals or groups
  • carefully document each stage of your investigation
  • present technical findings to managers, law enforcement organisations and clients

You’ll work for the police or security services, a bank, or for an IT firm that specialises in computer security.

You might also work in a broader security role, like acting as a cyber security consultant to companies and organisations.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • training with a professional body

University

You can do a degree or postgraduate qualification in:

  • forensic computing and security
  • computer science
  • cyber security
  • digital forensics

Courses with industry placements will help you develop your skills.

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

Apprenticeship

You can do a cyber instrusion analyst or cyber security technologist higher apprenticeship.

You can also take a cyber security technical professional degree apprenticeship.

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent qualifications, for a higher or a degree apprenticeship

Work

You could start work as an IT support technician, network engineer or developer after doing A levels. You would then work your way up by taking further training on the job.

Further information

You could do certified industry training with a professional body like The Institute of Information Security Professionals or The Chartered Institute for IT.

You'll need to be working in IT security or have a lot of experience to do this.

You can find out more about careers in digital security from the National Cyber Security Centre and The Chartered Institute for IT.

£20,000 to £60,000

Starter salary: £20,000 and £25,000

Experienced salary: £25,000 and £35,000

These figures are a guide.

Variable

The number of hours you work will depend on the type of investigation and how complex it is. In some cases you may have to work overtime.

Most of your work will be office-based, but you’ll also meet with colleagues and other agencies working on the case. 



You may also go to court to give evidence as a technical or expert witness.

With experience, you could progress to senior analyst, head of security or security consultant.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • broadcasting and telecommunications knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • persistence and determination
  • complex problem-solving skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications
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