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Data & network

Forensic computer analyst

Forensic computer analysts investigate computer-based crime, often called cyber crime.

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £60,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 a week

You could work: evenings; occasionally

4%
Future employment

There will be 4% more Forensic computer analyst jobs in 2025.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

Your tasks will depend on the type of organisation you work for and could include the investigation of:

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

Your first task on a project will be to secure the IT system or hardware so it can't be tampered with. Using forensic methods and specialist computer programs, your further tasks could include:

  • finding, recovering and copying data from disks that may have been hidden, encrypted or damaged
  • revealing digital images that have been altered to mask the identity of a place or person
  • analysing mobile phone records to trace devices to a particular location
  • following electronic data trails to uncover links between individuals or groups
  • carefully documenting each stage of your investigation
  • presenting technical findings to managers, law enforcement organisations and clients

Working environment

You could work in a court, in an office or at a client's business.

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
  • financial technology

Courses with industry placements will help you develop your skills.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information
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.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

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

Other routes

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

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

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Further information

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

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
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications
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