Are you ready to find a school that's aligned with your interests?

The number of cyberattacks peaked in 2021. Computer forensics analysts help organizations and law enforcement find evidence related to cybercrimes. Those interested in criminal justice and computers may be a good match for this career.

A successful computer forensics career often requires at least a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity, computer forensics, or a related field. Some employers may prefer to hire computer forensics analysts with relevant certifications.

This page explores salary and job prospects for computer forensics analysts. We also cover what computer forensics analysts do, where they work, and how location can impact jobs.

What Does a Computer Forensics Analyst Do?

Computer forensics analysis is a field of cybersecurity, which is a subfield of computer science. Computer forensics involves collecting digital evidence in criminal cases. Computer forensics analysts' daily tasks vary depending on their employer, location, experience level, and degree type.

These professionals find, track, and extract digital data that can aid criminal investigations. They search hard drives and use encryption decoding software to examine computers, smartphones, databases, and network servers.

Computer forensics analysts can find jobs with law enforcement, software companies, government agencies, and law firms. They often work for information technology departments with computer systems analysts or security administrators.

How Much Does a Computer Forensics Analyst Make?

Becoming a computer forensics analyst can be an attractive career choice because of the potential to earn a salary above the national average in a growing field. Payscale reports forensics computer analysts earned an average annual salary of $74,805 as of February 2022.

Factors that can impact salaries include education, experience level, industry or specialization, and location.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects data on information security analysts, which is similar to computer forensic analysts.

$103,590

Median Annual Salary of Information Security Analysts

Source: BLS, 2020

Salary by Experience

Experience can greatly affect a computer forensic analyst's salary. The field rewards time in the profession, with average annual salaries going up as forensic computer analysts gain years of experience. People just starting their computer forensics career make $37,790 less than those with 20 years or more of experience.

Salary by Education

Education level can significantly affect a computer forensics salary. Computer forensics analysts can improve their earning potential by seeking higher education. Salaries increase with additional education and degrees.

The data below does not represent solely computer forensics analysts, but rather all respondents in the cybersecurity field with that degree.

Pursuing higher education can increase a computer forensics analyst's salary by more than $20,000 on average a year. However, earning another degree also costs money and takes time away from a career.

Consider the pros and cons of additional education and calculate your return on investment before pursuing another degree.

Discover Which Education Path Is Right for You

Top Online Bachelor's Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Salary by Location

Location can affect salary. Some cities, metropolitan areas, and states offer better-paying jobs in computer forensics than others.

Factors that affect average salaries include job demand, living costs, and population density. Dense urban areas tend to offer higher salaries for computer forensics analysts than rural ones. In many cases, the top-paying metro areas and cities also have higher costs of living.

Some of the data below is not specific to computer forensic analysts but information security analysts, a similar cybersecurity career.

Top-Paying Cities for Forensic Computer Analysts, 2022
City Average Annual Salary Percent Above the National Average
Dallas, Texas $97,591 30.5%
Washington, District of Columbia $96,453 28.9%
Boston, Massachusetts $88,437 18%
San Antonio, Texas $87,500 17%
Seattle, Washington $80,000 7%
Source: Payscale
Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Information Security Analysts
Metropolitan Area Number of Information Security Analysts Employed Median Annual Salary
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 1,870 $147,160
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 2,590 $136,910
Idaho Falls, ID 210 $130,620
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 8,280 $130,000
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 160 $128,750
Source: BLS
Top-Paying States for Information Security Analysts
State Number of Information Security Analysts Employed Median Annual Salary
California 10,470 $125,990
New York 6,450 $125,920
New Jersey 4,000 $123,280
District of Columbia 1,1810 $119,460
Virginia 16,160 $116,920
Source: BLS

Computer Forensics Analysts' Job Outlook and Career Prospects

Demand for security analysts is over four times the national average, making it an attractive career choice. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects a 33% growth rate for information security analysts. The agency projects 16,300 job openings for information security analysts each year between 2020 and 2030.

Increasing cyberattacks and the need for professionals to help solve cybercrimes will likely drive growth for computer forensics analysts. Demand for computer forensics analysts may be especially strong in the healthcare and banking and finance industries because of their high information security needs.

Change in Projected Employment for Information Security Analysts

+33% from 2020-2030

Source: BLS

Best Locations for Computer Forensics Careers

Computer forensics analysts can find promising job opportunities in many states, metropolitan areas, and cities. In general, computer forensics analysts may find more job opportunities in metropolitan areas than rural areas.

You should consider more than just salary when launching a computer forensics career. The best locations for computer forensics analysts offer many job opportunities, steady career growth, and competitive salaries.

Below, we describe the top states for computer forensic analysts.

Top States for Computer Forensics Analysts

Virginia, Texas, and California employ more information security analysts than any other states and offer higher-than-average salaries for this occupation. Texas's high salaries, large numbers of jobs, and low cost of living make it one of the best places for computer forensics analysts.

The data in the tables below is not specific to computer forensic analysts. Instead, it represents information security analysts, a similar career with BLS data.

Top-Employing States for Information Security Analysts
Top-Employing States Number of Information Security Analysts Employed Median Annual Salary
Virginia 16,160 $116,920
Texas 13,410 $113,400
California 10,470 $125,990
Florida 7,600 $95,190
Maryland 7,090 $111,310
Source: BLS
States With the Greatest Projected Increase in Employment for Information Security Analysts, 2018-28
State Percent Projected Change, 2018-28 Average Annual Openings
Greatest Projected Percentage Increase
Utah 59.3% 80
District of Columbia 52.6% 220
Colorado 50.3% 510
Virginia 45.4% 1,930
Nevada 44.2% 70
Most Projected Average Annual Openings
Virginia 45.4% 1,930
Texas 38.2% 1,040
New York 34.3% 830
Florida 44% 750
California 32.7% 630
Source: Projections Central

Top Metropolitan Areas for Computer Forensics Analysts

Some metropolitan areas offer higher salaries and more job openings for computer forensics analysts.

The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area offers the most jobs for information security analysts and higher-than-average salaries. This densely populated area can offer an expensive but high quality of life for people interested in arts, history, politics, and entertainment.

Computer forensics analysts looking for a more affordable place to live with high numbers of jobs should consider the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area. The cost of living in Texas is about 6% lower than the national average.

The data below is not specific to computer forensics analysts, but represents information security analysts, a similar career.

Top-Employing Metropolitan Areas for Information Security Analysts, 2020
Metropolitan Area Number of Information Security Analysts Employed Median Annual Salary
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 15,750 $117,920
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 8,280 $130,000
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 6,130 $117,480
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH 4,520 $109,220
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 4,370 $112,870
Source: BLS

Best Industries for Computer Forensics Careers

Salary and demand for computer forensics analysts varies by industry. The electronic shopping and mail-order houses and other information services industries offer top salaries for this career, but offer few positions.

Industries that employ the most computer forensics analysts include computer systems design and related services and management of companies and enterprises.

The data in the tables below is not specific to computer forensics analysts, but represents information security analysts, a similar career with BLS data.

Top-Paying Industries for Information Security Analysts, 2020
Top-Paying Industries Number of Information Security Analysts Employed Average Annual Salary
Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses 330 $132,150
Other Information Services 680 $131,050
Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing 790 $128,330,
Automotive Repair and Maintenance 40 $127,150
Legal Services 660 $125,980
Source: BLS
Employment by Industry for Information Security Analysts, 2020
Industries With Highest Employment Number of Information Security Analysts Employed Average Annual Salary
Computer Systems Design and Related Services 36,280 $108,910
Management of Companies and Enterprises 13,330 $104,960
Credit Intermediation and Related Activities (5221 and 5223 only) 10,880 $110,490
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services 7,410 $110,440
Insurance Carriers 5,450 $103,230
Source: BLS

Upward Mobility for Computer Forensics Analysts

Computer forensics analysts careers can follow different paths depending on their experience and education level. Some people become senior computer forensics analysts, taking on greater and more complex job responsibilities over time. Computer forensics analysts may earn higher salaries as they gain years of professional experience.

Other people pursue management roles or other types of computer security jobs that build upon computer forensics analysis skills. Future career opportunities for people in this field include security director, security specialist, and security consultant. Other potential jobs for computer forensics analysts include security manager, security software developer, and security architect.

Some of these positions may require additional education, training, and certifications. A software developer bootcamp may provide the skills and knowledge necessary to become a security software developer, for example.

Learn More About Computer Forensics Analysts

1

What Is a Computer Forensics Analyst?

This page outlines a computer forensics analyst career. We describe basic duties, the main focus of the job, and required skills.
Learn More
1

How to Become a Computer Forensics Analyst

Learn what degrees and professional experience you need to become a computer forensics analyst. We also explain how professional certifications can help a computer forensics career.
Learn More
1

Day in the Life of a Computer Forensics Analyst

This page gives readers a peek into the day-to-day of working as a computer forensics analyst. We describe potential work environments, interactions, and job tasks.
Learn More
1

Bachelors in Computer Forensics Programs

Learn what to expect from a bachelor's in computer forensics, including popular classes, program focus, and admission requirements.
Learn More
1

Masters in Computer Forensics Programs

Explore the pros and cons of earning a master's in computer forensics degree. We describe a typical curriculum, program requirements, and skills learned.
Learn More
1

Certifications for Computer Forensics Analysts

Learn about professional certifications that can help your computer forensics analyst career. We also explain what it takes to earn them.
Learn More

FAQ About Computer Forensics Careers

What jobs can you get in computer forensics?

Jobs in computer forensics include computer forensics analyst, information security analyst, security consultant, or security manager. Other options may include security director, security software developer, or security architect.

Where is the best state to work as a computer forensics analyst?

Some of the best states for a computer forensics career include Virginia, Texas, and New York. Other promising locations include California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. These states offer high salaries and job opportunities for computer forensics analysts.

What is the best industry to work in as a computer forensics analyst?

The best industries for a computer forensics analyst career include computer systems design and related services and management of companies and enterprises. These industries employ more people in this field than any others and pay higher-than-average salaries.

What position has the highest salary in computer forensics?

Salaries in computer forensics vary by level of education, experience, and location. Security managers are one of the highest paid occupations in the field. According to Payscale, security managers earned more than $119,000 a year as of February 2022.


Featured Image: Luis Alvarez / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Recommended Reading

View hand-picked degree programs

Tell us what you’d like to specialize in, and discover which schools offer a degree program that can help you make an impact on the world.