Computer Forensics Investigator Career and Salary Outlook


Updated September 5, 2023

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Computer forensics investigators are highly paid to examine digital evidence. Find out how much they make and the effects of location, experience, and education on their pay. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Computer forensics investigators earn competitive pay to examine digital evidence in crimes. They also examine data, write reports on their findings, and testify in court.

Computer forensic investigators have at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, but there are many ways to start this career.

Find out more about what computer forensics investigators do, what career opportunities there are, and what the average computer forensics investigator salary is.

What Does a Computer Forensics Investigator Do?

Computer forensics investigators search for and examine the evidence in digital crimes. They analyze the data and evidence to determine whether or not the evidence supports the case.

Most computer forensics investigators work for federal and state government agencies or law enforcement agencies. Most often, these agencies are in and around Washington, D.C.

In addition to collecting evidence, they write reports on the evidence, take pictures of their findings, and testify in court. They also need to know the procedures, laws, and regulations related to their investigations to properly carry them out.

Computer forensics investigators test the security of data and digital information, and recommend changes to make this information more secure.

If you’re interested in computer forensic investigation, you may also consider similar job titles such as digital forensics analyst and forensic computer analyst.

How Much Does a Computer Forensics Investigator Make?

Computer forensics investigators make an average of $75,500 per year, according to Payscale data from March 2023. Computer forensics investigators with skills such as project management, mobile computing, fraud investigation, and digital computing can earn higher salaries.

Time in the field can also increase their salary. Computer forensics investigators with five or more years of experience may earn an average salary up to $90,000 a year, according to March 2023 Payscale data.

Average Annual Salary of Computer Forensics Investigators, March 2023



Average Salary for Computer Forensics Investigators by Experience

According to limited Payscale data, computer forensic analyst — also called forensic computer analysts — earn more on average based on their experience.

Computer forensic investigators may see the highest increases in their pay after they gain five years of experience. Computer forensic investigators with five to nine years of experience earn an average annual salary near $90,000.

Computer Forensics Investigator Salary by Education

Future computer forensics investigators have several options for training. You can earn a bachelor's or master's degree in cybersecurity, network security, or computer science. You could also attend a bootcamp that offers a quicker pathway into the field.

Professionals with a bachelor’s of science in computer science earn the highest salaries compared to those of similar undergraduate degrees, such as computer forensics.

Different types of computer science professionals hold computer science degrees, and some degrees may lead to higher salaries than others. Some of these professionals earn higher salaries than computer forensics investigators.

If you choose to get a master’s degree, a few of the average salaries for professionals with master's degrees are six figures. This is because of the increased knowledge, hands-on experience, and specialization master's degrees offer.

People with a master's in computer science, a master's in computer forensics, or a master of computer science in network security all earn an average of more than $100,000.

Online bootcamps may also offer training for computer forensics investigators. You can often complete one of these bootcamps in less time than it takes to complete a degree.

Bootcamps cover computer science more broadly, or focus on a specific skill set you’ll need and how to build it.

Because of the differences in your education and skill set, you may earn different pay than other computer forensics specialists who earned a degree.

Discover which education path is right for you:

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Degrees in Computer Forensics

Bachelor's Degrees in Computer Forensics

Bachelor's Degrees in Computer Forensics

Master's Degrees in Computer Forensics

Master's Degrees in Computer Forensics

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Computer Forensics Investigator Salary by Location

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows that Maryland, California, Delaware, and Virginia offer the highest average salaries for all other computer occupations.

This is supported by Payscale, which cites that the three cities paying computer forensics investigators the highest average salaries are Washington D.C., Arlington, Virginia, and Dallas, Texas.

The executive branch in the federal government and Silicon Valley in California are two of the biggest employers of computer forensics investigators.

This demand for computer forensics investigators contributes to the high salaries in California, Washington, D.C., and the states surrounding Washington, D.C.

The cost of living in many of these locations is higher than average. Washington D.C., California, and Maryland have three of the top ten highest costs of living in the country, according to the 2021 cost of living index.

Top-Paying Cities for Roles Similar To Computer Forensics Investigators
State Average Annual Wage Percent Above the National Average

Washington D.C.



Dallas, Texas



Arlington, Virginia



Source:Payscale, March 2023

Top-Paying States for All Other Computer Occupations, May 2021
State Number of 'Other' Computer Employees Average Annual Wage

Washington D.C.















Source: BLS

Career Outlook for Computer Forensics Investigators

BLS projects 10% growth for all other computer occupations. People continue to use technology to store information, which means opportunities for digital crimes will increase. The need for computer forensics investigators will increase with it.

Computer forensics investigators can find many opportunities in law enforcement, the federal government, and state governments. They will also find more opportunities in large cities and states.

Employment Outlook for Computer Forensics Investigators, 2021-2031


Source: BLS

Best Locations for Computer Forensics Investigators

Most opportunities for all other computer occupations are in metropolitan areas and large states. California, Texas, and Maryland employ the most professionals in all other computer occupations, including computer forensics investigators. Florida has the most job openings annually between 2018 and 2028.

Computer forensics investigators can also find many jobs in Washington, D.C., and Maryland because the executive branch of the federal government is the largest employer of all other computer occupations, according to BLS data from May 2021. Dallas, Texas, and Washington D.C. are the two highest-paying cities for computer forensics investigators.

Top-Employing States for Roles Similar To Computer Forensics Investigators, May 2021
Top-Employing States Number of Computer Forensics Investigators Employed Annual Mean Wage










Washington D.C.






Source: BLS

States With the Greatest Projected Increase in Employment for Information Security Analysts, a similar position to Computer Forensics Analysts, 2018-2028
State Percent Projected Change, 2018-28 Average Annual Openings










North Carolina






Source: Projections Central

Career Opportunities for Computer Forensics Investigators

As you gain experience as a computer forensic investigator, you can apply for mid-level and senior positions, which may earn higher salaries.

Computer forensics investigators also move into other roles in computer science such as security engineer, cyber security analyst, and chief information security officer.

Skills like project management, forensics, computer security, and mobile and cloud computing can help you stand out in these roles. Certifications in computer forensics like Certified Forensic Examiner (GCFE) from Global Information Assurance Certification can also help you show your knowledge.

FAQ About Careers and Salaries for Computer Forensics Investigators

  • What is the average salary of a computer forensics investigator?

    Computer forensics investigators make an average of $75,500 annually, according to the Payscale data from March 2023. You may earn more as a computer forensic investigator based on your experience, skills, location, and industry.

  • What is the highest income a computer forensics investigator can expect?

    The highest income computer forensic investigators can expect is $125,000 per year, according to Payscale data from March 2023. Places like California, Maryland, Washington D.C., and select Texas cities tend to pay higher than average salaries to computer forensics investigators.

  • Are computer forensics investigators in high demand?

    Yes, computer forensics investigators are in high demand. BLS projects 10% job growth for all other computer science occupations between 2021 and 2031. This is twice the 5% average job growth for all occupations. You may find increased opportunities as a computer forensics investigator depending on your industry or location.

  • Is computer forensics investigation a good career?

    Computer forensics investigation can be a rewarding career because of the ability to help solve crimes, the increased demand, and the high salaries. People with computer science, cybersecurity, organization, time management, and attention to detail skills will likely do well in this career.

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