“Digital Forensics is a very niche and lucrative field for those who have adequate knowledge and experience. The job demand for Digital Forensics Analysts is expected to rise by 32% from 2018 to 2028”
During and post COVID-19 scenario cyberspace has gained a lot of importance and has become a new normal. This is the only field that is not affected by the pandemic. From academics to jobs everyone has shifted to the cyber domain. Many people have lost their jobs and those who have been asked to Work From Home(WFH). Many IT professionals have started reskilling themselves and shifting their expertise to the disciplines of the cyber field. During the Independence Day address by our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, he stressed on ‘Upskill and Reskill’ which is the call of the hour.
Let me narrow the scope and talk about digital forensics as a career option. I have been speaking on different topics within digital forensics and today I plan to write about the most important topic which new entrants want to know before entering this niche field and also those who have spent a considerable amount of time learning the skillset by the devotion of the time and money. Many ask how much will I be paid in other terms what will be my salary when I take up this field. When you search the internet you do get various figures keeping the global perspective in mind but rarely you get the Indian perspective. It is not necessary that the same salary is paid to a digital forensic analyst in India as it is paid in other parts of the globe.
After interacting with numerous digital forensic professionals with varied experience and also with the industry I have tried to pen down few findings on the topic of ‘Pay Scale of Digital Forensic Professionals in India’. In my other writings, I have described the various job profiles in digital forensics, but I will be talking about the core profile of Digital Forensic Analyst, as all in this field aim to designate.
Let’s not touch the career profile of professionals government organizations because they’re the pay scale as per the appointment health and years of experience in service. We will discuss the worth of digital forensic analyst for the industry in terms of qualifications and experience. By saying this it is clear that the pay scale will differ keeping the qualifications and experience of the professional in mind.
What’s Your Worth
To make things in place let’s segregate the forensic professionals into three categories.
- Intern: with NO or up to 2 years of experience
- Digital Forensic Analyst (DFA): with 2 to 10 years of experience. In actual DFA comprises many job profiles which are due to the specialization one attains. For the purpose of understanding, it has been clubbed together in this writeup.
- Digital Forensic Expert (DFE): with 10+ years of experience
For ease of understanding of Indian professionals, the pay scale will be shown in INR. For the purpose of calculation, the dollar rate is taken as 75 INR.
- ‘SimpyHired’ puts the average salary for DFA in the U.S. to $63,959. While a DFE is expected to earn six figures in metropolitan cities ($107,000 for forensic analysts and more than $127,000 for digital forensic roles).
- ‘PayScale’, calculation puts the average DFA salary to $70,000 a year, (range $45,000 -$115,000).Higher-end of the pay scale is for the DFE.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics puts average salaryofDFAto $98,350 (Salaried) per year or $47.28 per hour (Contractual). The range was $56,750- $156,580. The higher-end of the pay scale is for the DFE.
- Salary.com calculation puts the average DFA salary to $60,291
So the average salary of DFA comes to $75,000 (INR 56 lacs) and of DFE is $100,000 ( INR 75 lacs) in the US and European markets. However, not the same in other parts of the world. The best is to speak of India which can be considered as the median of the world.
Forget what we read in the above paragraphs and let’s get to the brass task. Digital Forensics is exponentially growing as a career option. The table below is prepared after interaction with academia, interns, Digital Forensics Analysts, and Digital Forensics Experts. The PayScale varies with qualifications, expertise & experience. Also if you have worked with CFSLs or Cyber Forensics Labs on Law Enforcement Agencies(LEAs) it will carry additional weightage while finalization of package. If someone has exposure in the establishment of Digital Forensic Labs and has deposed as Expert Witness in courts the package may be higher.
Other than Digital Forensic Analyst there are other career profiles for Digital Forensics Professionals and are equally important. Below are a few of career profiles with Digital Forensics skillset.
In India, Digital Forensics is still in the nascent stage. Professionals are still wary about choosing it as a career as the cost involved in training and skillset development is high. It also requires passion and patience to master discipline in digital forensics.
Off late there has been Reskilling towards digital forensics by other IT professionals. There is a huge demand for these digital forensics professionals but they have to have a proper skill set and experience. One more thing you can now find professionals at entry level but there are very few experts in this file with 15+ years of experience. Digital Forensic Expert is a rare commodity to find, hence are valued more.
If you are a Digital Forensics professional anywhere in the world … You have a price of gold and you are worth it.
DISCLAIMER – The views and findings are from open source and after interaction with the academia, professionals, and industry. These are not binding on anyone and are bound to change with a flexible environment.