In reality, it is often all about salary, isn’t it?
For all our talk about culture, professional challenge and other factors most of us need to earn a certain amount of money to feed our families, crack habits etc.
There was an interesting job advert thread on Forensic Focus recently. The original advert is for a pure forensics role working for the Met Police in SE London paying about £40k (with allowances).
Some people on the forum, along with others I have discussed it with since – and whose opinions I respect - feel that this salary is way too low for the skills/experience required. I find it hard to agree. During the last two years, unless it has been a Team Leader role I certainly can’t recall any pure forensics roles in the private or public sector paying much more than this salary, with the exception of the odd financial institution.
When I speak to computer forensics professionals I sometimes think there is a lack of realism on the question of salary. In the current market here in the UK, my experience is that salaries for computer forensics professionals are facing pretty strong downward pressures. For example, I know one excellent analyst with over five years law enforcement experience combined with three years in the private sector who moved to another private sector company just this month for £38k. Two years ago I reckon he could have been looking at a basic salary £8k-£10k higher.
What do you need to do if you really need to significantly increase your salary?
Well, if this is how you feel then the options are quite simple – get promoted to a management role (easy huh!) or go and work in Electronic Disclosure where the salaries are considerably higher. However, before you do either of these things, stop and think whether this is really what you want? For example, if you talk to somebody about the reality of daily life as an ED Manager at Big Four as opposed to a pure forensics role at the Met Police I imagine you will hear that both the salary and career development is excellent, but the quality of work...well, it is certainly very different to a pure forensics role working for the Met Police....
I guess I am also a little bias as I have a really soft spot for the Met Police. We have recruited for them in the past and almost every person I have met who works in their forensics team at Newlands Park has struck me as a thoroughly committed person doing an excellent job under difficult circumstances. Moreover, the forensics professionals I speak to at the Met tend to love the work they do, manage to obtain excellent developmental training and speak very highly about the competency of their colleagues. I reckon it sounds a pretty good place to work, don’t you?
However, as I said at the start of this blog, sometimes it really is all about salary. Isn’t it?
When I speak to new graduates looking for their first position in the area I always advise them to start a blog to differentiate themselves and to showcase what they have to offer potential employers. Libby Baugher graduated from Champlain College in 2010 with a degree in Computer Forensics and Digital Investigations and she has just started to write a very personal blog which is an excellent read. Catch up with Libby's progress here: