How Long Does it Take to Become a Computer Forensic Expert in West Virginia?

As a West Virginia resident interested in pursuing a career as a computer forensic expert, you are probably wondering how long it will take you to reach your career goals. There is no simple answer to this question. How long it will take you depends on where you take your courses, what level of education you are aspiring to, where and in what capacity you plan to work after graduation, and many other factors. Do know, however that you do have some control over how long your education lasts. If you need to, you can stretch it out over several years, or you can speed up the process by taking online courses and/or attending summer schools and choosing to take on heavy course loads.

west virginia computer forensics schools

Since there is such a high demand for computer forensic experts and not enough workers to fill the vast need, many employers in West Virginia will hire applicants who hold only an associate's degree in the field. These broad, two year degrees can be obtained from online colleges and from community colleges in West Virginia. The positions for which they qualify students are very low level, but they are a good way to get a quick foot in the door of the field. Be aware, however, that most employers will request that their prospective employees attend additional training or special certification courses before employment begins or during the early stages of employment. The upside to this is that many employers will pay for these educational pursuits, since they benefit both the employee and the employer. Most professionals who begin working in computer forensics with only an associate's degree will later go on to transfer their credits to bachelor degree programs to obtain a higher level of education and ability.

If you are able to commit to four years of training, you can start on a higher up level as a computer forensic expert. Graduates who possess bachelor's degrees tend to get employed more readily than those who possess only associate's degrees. They also qualify for better positions and get higher pay right from the start. Plus, they are able to go on right away or later down the road to master's degree and then doctorate degree programs which offer the highest pay and the most coveted job positions possible. Those with the highest levels of education often work for such prestigious organizations as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

No matter which program you choose, be aware that there are ways to complete it more quickly. You can opt to take summer classes and to take the highest possible number of credit hours each semester. Also, many students who are in a hurry to complete their degrees opt for online colleges and universities, which allow them to complete coursework at their own unique pace. Conversely, students who have families, jobs, or other obligations can work more slowly or take courses at times that work for them and their needs.

Once you've completed your degree, you can gain experience in the field by choosing to take on an internship. Internships, which may be either paid or unpaid, are work related experiences with companies, businesses, and other organizations within the computer forensics field in West Virginia. It is important that you treat this opportunity just as you would a real job as a computer forensics expert. Those who take their internships seriously may end up landing jobs with the organization where they intern, or they may be referred to positions with other companies.

Some careers, such as working as a private investigator or working with law enforcement will require accreditation by the state. This process usually involves some kind of experiential learning, outside of the internship, and the passing of a statewide test. If you are interested in a career that requires accreditation, make sure that you know all of the important deadlines and regulations that you must meet. For some jobs, this is the final required step to obtaining the career that you've always dreamed. For others, you're good to go as soon as you finish your internship.

Schools offering online and campus-based education programs in West Virginia:

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