Cybercrime is a big problem today. So, if you are interested in this matter, surely you have seen a lot of companies find investigators to help prevent such crimes.
Do you want to pursue this career? My guide on how to become a cybercrime investigator below will help you!
I will list the necessary steps on this path, including how to get the required degree and skills as well as experiences. I also mention some helpful certifications to impress employers more.
A cybercrime investigator is a pro who investigates and mitigates cybercrimes. These tasks involve illegal activities committed using digital technologies and the internet. These investigators play a critical role in:
- Identifying cybercriminals
- Tracking cybercriminals
- Apprehending cybercriminals
At the same time, they preserve digital evidence for legal proceedings to protect people and companies from digital threats.
Although everyone’s route in this field is different, you should refer to this roadmap because it is based on my experience and is ideal for beginners.
To become a cybercrime investigator, you should start with a Bachelor’s degree. Most often, people aim for a degree in cybercrime or criminal justice. These teach you the rules of investigating crime on computers and the internet.
Besides, you have other good choices that give you helpful skills and knowledge to work in this field. You can also pick degrees in:
- Criminology: This degree helps you know why people do bad things. That’s useful when you need to figure out why cybercrimes happen.
- Cyber security: This degree focuses on protecting computers and networks. You’ll learn how to spot and stop cybercriminals.
- Information technology or Computer science: These degrees teach techie stuff like coding and data analysis. These skills are helpful when finding digital evidence and malware (that’s harmful software).
Getting a Bachelor’s degree shows that you’re serious and skilled. It’s like saying, “I’m ready to solve cybercrimes!” Also, some jobs really want you to have this degree. For example, if you’re eyeing a government job or a position in a cyber security company, they might insist on it.
As a cybercrime investigator, more than anyone else, I know that the path to success in this field is paved with a blend of specialized skills and a strong foundation.
So, you should hone skills related to this field as soon as possible in the following ways:
- Start by getting really good with computers. Learn how they work, how to find files, and how to use software.
- Get into digital forensics. You need to figure out how to gather and look at digital evidence.
- Build technical skills in areas like networking, coding, and dealing with databases. Knowing these helps you understand how cybercrimes happen.
- Learn about cyber security to think like a cybercriminal and understand their tricks.
- Know the laws about cybercrimes where you live. Understand how legal procedures work, like getting search warrants. You must also follow ethical rules.
- Develop your ability to look at complex problems and find solutions.
- Be a problem solver. Cybercrime cases are like puzzles, and you need to figure them out.
- Learn to explain your findings well in writing and when talking to others. Sometimes, you might need to speak in court or tell your team what you’ve discovered.
- Stay updated with new technology and cyber threats. These criminals keep changing, so you need to keep learning too.
- Be good at working with others. You will often work with experts in different areas to solve cases.
- Always do your job with integrity. You need to be trustworthy and follow strict rules.
- Some cases can take a long time to solve. So, patience and not giving up are super important.
While a Bachelor’s degree provides the foundation, practical skills are equally important. So, I recommend starting with the basics and developing your skills over time.
Getting certified in this field proves your skills and knowledge to employers and makes you more competitive. Employers like to hire people who have proven skills.
Certifications teach you about a specific part of this field. You will learn digital forensics or hacking. This deep knowledge is what employers look for.
In some jobs, like working for the government, you must have specific certifications for these roles.
Getting certified isn’t too hard. First, you need to decide what part of the field you enjoy the most. Do you like looking at computer evidence or finding threats in systems?
Then, look for ones that match your interests. There are different ones for different areas, like CISSP, CISM, CEH, etc. Many certifications need you to keep learning even after you pass the exam to keep your skills up to date.
While learning in college is good, actually doing the job is crucial because it helps you:
- Build problem-solving skills
- Learn cyber threats
- Become good at using tools
To begin your career, try to find beginner jobs with companies that have cyber security teams. These jobs often involve working on real cybercrime cases with clients and law agencies. Here are some types of beginner jobs:
- Cyber security analyst: You watch over computer networks, find security issues, and help respond to attacks.
- Digital forensics technician: You gather and examine digital evidence from devices like computers and phones.
- Incident responder: You react to security incidents, know what went wrong, and help prevent more damage.
- SOC analyst: You deal with security alerts and incidents to protect a company’s digital stuff.
- Trainee cybercrime investigator: Some companies offer training roles for those interested in the field.
In this step, a great way to grow your skills is to learn from people who’ve done the job. You’ll dive into actual cases, which can be complex.
As you work on cases, you can start creating a portfolio of your jobs. It can help you get more advanced roles.
Then, as you gain more knowledge and expertise through these roles, you’ll be better prepared to handle complex tasks and make a real impact in the field.
A golden rule to gain a foothold in this field is to have a strong network of relationships with cybersecurity and digital forensics experts. This network has helped me a lot when I faced difficulties at work.
Besides, you can share ideas and new things you’ve learned about the techniques in the field when connecting with peers. Working together often leads to better solutions.
These are how to build a network:
- Go to events: Attend cyber security conferences, workshops, and seminars. These events are for meeting other investigators, experts, and employers.
- Join groups: Become a member of ISACA or ISC2. They host events and offer resources and mentorship.
- Online communities: Get involved in online forums and LinkedIn groups related to this field.
- Training programs: Take training courses and get certifications. It’s not just about learning but also about meeting instructors and classmates.
- Find a mentor: Look for experienced people who can guide you.
Networking isn’t just about making contacts. It’s about keeping them. So, I recommend staying connected, offering help when you can, and being open to assisting others.
Once you have gone through the steps above, now is the right time to apply for this position. You can look for these roles on LinkedIn and Indeed. You can also check government sites, police departments, or cyber security firms.
In this step, carefully read the job details to see if your skills match. Then, create a resume focusing on your relevant experience, certifications, and skills.
Don’t forget to prepare for interviews by practicing common questions and showing your knowledge, and keep learning about the field to stand out.
Whether you successfully apply for this position, keeping learning is vital because criminals are always coming up with new tricks. To catch them, you must keep learning about their latest methods.
The best way to keep learning is by taking classes and getting certifications in the field. You can also join cyber security events to learn from experts and keep up with what’s new.
In this dynamic field, continuous learning isn’t just a choice; it’s a recipe for staying effective and ahead of the game.
To be a successful investigator, you need specific skills to tackle digital crimes effectively. Here are the essential ones:
You need to be really good with computer systems because you use computers to find clues and evidence. You also use special computer tools to catch criminals.
Thinking critically is vital to know how these crimes occur and, more importantly, who is behind them. You have to look for patterns and make decisions.
In this role, you will deal with lots of data and evidence. You need to keep things organized. So you can build a strong case against cybercriminals.
Being a good communicator means being able to talk and write clearly. You need to explain what you find to others, including lawyers or police. So, good communication helps you work well with others and tell your findings in court.
Certifications are like badges that show you’re good at this job and help you stand out when looking for work. Here are some options that experts in this field often get:
- CEH: It teaches you about hackers.
- CCE: It’s about learning to examine digital evidence.
- CCFE: It makes you an expert at finding and studying digital clues.
- CREA: This is for you if you want to understand and take apart malicious computer programs.
- GCIH: You’ll learn how to deal with cyber security problems effectively.
- GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst: It makes you a pro at analyzing digital evidence.
While these certifications are valuable, it’s important to note that their relevance can vary depending on your specific career path in this field.
For law enforcement agents, I recommend taking extra training in digital forensics and workshops.
Cybercrime investigators work in different places where they tackle online crimes. They can be in:
- Law agents: Police or FBI.
- Private companies: Cyber security firms, banks, or tech companies. Here, they protect against online scams and data theft.
- Government units: Some work in special teams to handle cyber threats that affect a whole country.
- Independent consultants: A few experts work for themselves, helping people and companies stay safe online.
So, these investigators can work in many different spots. But they all aim to stop online bad guys and keep the digital world secure.
If you become a cybercrime investigator, you can expect a good outlook and decent pay.
The demand for these investigators is on the rise because cybercrimes keep increasing. They are needed to stop hackers and protect vital data. Whether in law enforcement or private companies, their skills are valuable.
In 2023, this role’s yearly salary falls between $61,000 and $108,000, with a base salary of $58,000 to $101,000. And sometimes you can get extra pay ranging from $4,000 to $7,000/year.
As technology advances, the need for these roles will likely stay high. So, it’s a stable career with the potential for a decent income.
Due to the increasing cyber threats’ prevalence, the pros of working in this role include high demand and salaries, intellectual challenges, and job security.
So, you will have many opportunities for advancement and stop online bad guys to protect people.
No, this position doesn’t always need it. A Bachelor’s degree is often enough. Yet, having extra education is helpful for high-paying jobs.
They find online criminals, gather proof, and study cybercrimes. They work for the police, companies, or alone. They check computers, find security problems, and help catch criminals.
As you can see, the demand for cybercrime investigators will increase. So, you will be able to get a good position with attractive incentives in this field.
These shares about how to become a cyber crime investigator are drawn from my experience, and they will definitely help you in the process of studying and training to get this position. Good luck!