Having credible computer forensics certification is a vital part of the job. There is more to it than simply a case of learning the skills required to carry out the job professionally. Computer forensics experts will often need to give evidence for one side in a court case. As the opposing lawyer will seek to discredit an expert, it is vital that they have recognized certification from a credible accreditation body.
With the United States, there are numerous organizations which offer computer forensics certification. These vary from those which deal specifically with a particular type of equipment or computer program, through to those which offer more comprehensive certification. The price of such certification varies immensely, ranging from a couple of hundred dollars for a test to a course costing several thousand dollars.
There are several questions you should ask before pursuing a particular computer forensics certification. One is the background and authority of the organization which offers the certification. Another is how many people already have the certification: too few and it might be of little relevance in the real world; too many and it might be seen as too easy to obtain. You should also ask about the equipment and the specific techniques and programs which the certification covers and check that this is up-to-date and used widely in the industry. Finally, you should research potential employers and find out what certification they either require or consider an advantage among candidates for jobs.
In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, it is common to get computer forensics certification through a full-fledged degree course. Several universities offer a three-year degree course which combines practical training in the disciplines of computer forensics, specific training in using relevant equipment, and academic tutoring on subjects such as the ethics of computer forensics. There are also post-graduate courses aimed at students from all backgrounds, though those with a strong knowledge of information technology have a particular advantage.
At the moment, people working in computer forensics are not usually required to have a private investigator license. However, there has been some debate as to whether this is necessary, and some states in the US do have such a requirement. This requirement will not usually affect the technical abilities needed to become a computer forensics expert. However, it may add additional requirements such as demonstrating an understanding of privacy laws, and may cause problems for people with criminal records.