- Use data to help investigate and solve crimes
- You'll need excellent IT and problem solving skills
- An exciting and fast-paced field with good future prospects
As a forensic computer analyst, 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, and 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 could work in a court, in an office, or at a client's business. You may also work in a broader security role, such as acting as a cyber security consultant to companies and organisations. 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.
For this role, you'll need analytical thinking skills, the ability to use your initiative, to accept criticism and work well under pressure, broadcasting and telecommunications knowledge, thoroughness and attention to detail, persistence and determination, complex problem-solving skills, excellent verbal communication skills, and a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications.
You could start this career as an IT support technician, network engineer or developer after doing A levels. With experience and training, you may then be able to move into a more specialised security or analyst role.
You could do certified industry training with a professional body like The Institute of Information Security Professionals or The Chartered Institute for IT, but you'll need to be working in IT security or have a lot of experience to do this.
You can do a degree or postgraduate qualification in financial technology, forensic computing and security, computer science, cyber security, or digital forensics. Courses with industry placements may be especially beneficial, helping to develop practical skills.
To get this job you can do a cyber intrusion analyst or cyber security technologist higher apprenticeship. You could also take a cyber security technical professional degree apprenticeship.
You'll need to pass security checks to become a forensic computer analyst.
With experience, you could progress to senior analyst, head of security or security consultant.