Computer Forensics Salary
Computer forensics salary is dependent upon factors such as type of employer, experience, education, and geographic location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the salary for computer forensics officers working in law enforcement agencies was an average of $58,260 with the median earners making between $43,920 and $76,350 and the highest percentile earning over $105,000.
In general, those who have been working as a computer forensics officer longer or who have more education will have higher salaries. If you are working in a major metropolitan area such as California or New York, you can expect to be paid at the higher end of the scale. Those working in law enforcement agencies will have compensation effected by their rank within the department. If you are working for a federal law enforcement agency such as the FBI, you can expect higher salaries than local law enforcement agencies. Getting a computer forensics degree, information security, or cyber security degree is another way to ensure you are competitive in the job market and salary.
Did You Know?
In 2008, PayScale’s The Salary Reporter included Forensic Computer Analysts among its top ten best jobs for highest starting salaries, with an average initial income of $47,700 or more. According to the SANS 2008 Salary and Certification Survey, 38% of the information security professionals examined made over $100,000 per year.
Factors that Determine Salary
In general, those who have been working in a computer forensics position longer or who have more education will have higher salaries. For example according to the SANS Survey (2008), information security professionals with an Associates Degree and 0-4 years experience made $59,503 on average compared to Associate Degree holders with 10 or more years experience who made $90,389; those with a Bachelors degree with 5-9 years experience made $91,541 on average compared to Masters degree holders with the same amount of experience who made $96,531.
If you are working in a major metropolitan area such as San Francisco, Washington DC or New York, you can expect to be paid at the higher end of the scale. Those working in law enforcement agencies will be compensated based on their rank within the department. If you are working for a federal law enforcement agency such as a computer forensics role with the FBI, you can expect higher salaries than local law enforcement positions. Typically working for a private firm will garner higher wages than working for a public agency, although the latter tends to offer fruitful benefits. Consultants or “free agent” computer forensics professionals may receive a lucrative overall salary as they can charge between $375 and $600 an hour (according to “Computer Forensics, An Exciting Career” by Prendergast and St. Fleur).
Getting a computer forensics or digital crime degree is another way to ensure you are competitive in the job market and a high salary earner. Certifications, while voluntary, also may guarantee a higher pay and in some cases employers will only hire individuals with these recognized credentials. For example, those with CISSP certification made $94,018/year, according to ZDNet’s Larry Dignan (2008).
Computer Forensics Salary By State
Below you’ll find a list of average computer forensics salary listed by state. Wages & benefits can vary from city to city and will depend on the size and scope of the company or agency.
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Source: 2011 Computer Forensics Salary Data – Indeed.com