A Cyber Crime degree trains you to fight computer-related crime. Computers run every aspect of our lives, and the Internet seems to know more about us than we do ourselves. All that information out in cyberspace is endless temptation for techie criminals and the criminal justice system is hard-pressed to keep up. There are web scams (online scholarships scams, for example), email scams, identity theft, and more serious crimes against persons, such as cyber-stalking. There is also corporate fraud, from the Jack Madoffs of the world to hackers who destroy a company’s network or steal the personal data of a company’s entire client database. Cyber crime degree programs train students for careers investigating crimes related to computers, networks, and databases, whether these are the target of or the means of criminal activity. Combining criminal justice and technical training, cyber crime degree programs prepare graduates to prevent, detect, and provide court evidence of computer-based and computer-targeted crime.
Forensic workers apply scientific or other specialized knowledge to questions and issues related to the law.
Their job duties fall into two basic categories: analyzing evidence and acting as expert witnesses in legal proceedings. Some forensic specialists concentrate primarily on one of these tasks, although many do both.
— Careers in Forensics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009
Cyber crime degree programs are offered at the associate degree and bachelor degree levels. There are also cyber crime certificates in courses such as computer forensics for both entry-level jobs and graduate-level professionals. If you’re interested in cyber crime detection or prevention career, you should be technically intuitive, detail-oriented, highly analytical, patient, and capable of great focus.
Cyber Crime Degree Careers
Careers for graduates with a cyber crime degree include:
- Forensic Computer Analyst
- Criminal Investigator/Law Enforcement Detective
- Computer or Network Security Specialist
- Cyber Crime Prevention Consultant
- Private Investigator
Since cyber crime experts are needed in both the public and private sectors, you may find work with federal, state, or local law enforcement, private investigation agencies, private corporations with their own cyber-security division, or even the United States Department of Justice.
What’s the Cyber Crime Degree Job Outlook?
Not surprisingly, a January issue of Computerworld forecast IT Security as one of 6 Hottest Skills for 2010. With every innovation in technology, more experts in cyber crime detection will be needed, although job competition will be intense. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 2008 and 2018, employment for these roles in cyber crime prevention or detection will increase:
- Detectives and Criminal Investigators (law enforcement agencies): 17%
- Private Investigators: 22%
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators: 23%
How Much Does a Cyber Crime Degree Pay?
As of May 2008, median annual wages of detectives and criminal investigators were $60,910, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Payscale.com lists a salary range of $40,000 to $100,000 for a Forensic Computer Analyst, depending on your education and your years of experience. Whether you work for a government agency, the in-house security department of a private corporation, or a private investigation firm will also influence your pay.