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Age Discrimination Forensic Field?

Discussion of computer forensics employment and career issues.
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Age Discrimination Forensic Field?

Post Posted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:44 pm

Hello,

I am seriously considering a BS program in "Computer Forensics." However, my age is really really worrying me.

Background:

I am now 57, and would be about 59 when I finished. Years ago I worked briefly as a lawyer doing Admin telecom law for a state agency. I was later laid off and ended up working for the last ten years as an "Adjunct" teaching "bus law" at a local community college. However, b/c of the depression, I have not been able turn this into full time. About three years ago I got my CCE, figuring that with my legal background maybe I could get my foot in the door somewhere doing "computer forensics." No luck, again b/c of the depression, most employers seem to ALL want a degree, I let the CCE expire.

So, here I am trying to decide if pursuing a BS in "Computer Forensics" at age 57 @ UMass Boston is worth the risk. Working for the state I never made "big money," but I have no kids and am use to living lean. I was also considering a BS in "computer science" but understand those jobs are all in Asia, and those available in the US want "young" employees. I don't know who to trust anymore, everyone seems to have different opinions.

What do you guys think? I would greatly appreciate serious experienced advice.

Thank You Ahead of Time,
MJD  

Curio
Senior Member
 
 
  

Re: Age Discrimination Forensic Field?

Post Posted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:14 pm

Can't really say anything about your question. I have no experience, however you should try the FBI Forensic Examiner positions. They do not have age discrimination barriers as long as you have the minimum qualifications to apply.  

markg43
Senior Member
 
 
  

Re: Age Discrimination Forensic Field?

Post Posted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:26 am

I cannot help much either as I am in the UK, but even if I am younger, I was surprised when I first started my MSc in Computer Forensics in the UK. I was way below the average age, most people were professionals studying part time or on a career gap, highly experienced people seeking a specialized career path.

I would not really be much worried but I would probably consider part time education while I work rather than full time dedication to uni.

In the end of the day a degree is just a proof that you are able to learn, as one of my lecturers used to say. You will keep on learning the rest of your career after uni, specially in our field.  

hc4n6
Member
 
 
  

Re: Age Discrimination Forensic Field?

Post Posted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:28 am

Curio,

It seems that the field is really saturated now and most employers are really focusing on experience in addition to a degree. Even if you were to get the CF degree, you might still have a hard time breaking in.

I would be concerned with spending money on a specialized degree in CF at any age right now. I think that a broader degree would better serve the student and open more opportunities upon graduation.

As for the age thing, I recently read an article (I think it was in Wired magazine) that discussed this very thing among software companies. Apparently they are thinking that the under 40 crowd is more innovative, .etc and are making hiring and promotion decisions with that in mind.

Have you explored the opportunities relating to prosecution or defense work of crimes involving digital evidence? Since you have an interest in CF, maybe you could meld the two.

Good luck
_________________
Some things you just can't "unsee". 

miket065
Senior Member
 
 
  

Re: Age Discrimination Forensic Field?

Post Posted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:11 am

- miket065

It seems that the field is really saturated now and most employers are really focusing on experience in addition to a degree. Even if you were to get the CF degree, you might still have a hard time breaking in.


This might be the case, but I would make the following suggestions...

Employers tend to focus on degrees for two reasons...one is that they really have no idea what they're looking for in a "forensic examiner", and two is that having a degree illustrates that someone is capable of completing something.

I would further suggest that the OP's experience as an attorney, regardless of the field of specialization, is of great benefit. Folks with a bit more experience under their belts bring the benefits of their experiences to the job, and those of us from previous generations also bring a work ethic that is often lacking in the younger crowd.

Something else to consider is...is the field really saturated, and if so, by whom? By younger folks with little in the way of life experiences? Several years ago, I was part of a team where we had folks who missed regularly scheduled team meetings...at one point, the excuse used was, "I was coloring my hair."

So, to the OP...you may not have a great deal of experience in DF work, but you bring a wealth of other experiences with you, and that's how I would position myself.

Good luck.  

keydet89
Senior Member
 
 
  

Re: Age Discrimination Forensic Field?

Post Posted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:07 am

I don't think that employers do want young employees for CF. If you're thinking "young" then the employer is more likely thinking "cheap". That is, if they're not going to get experience in this field, then they want the cheapest FTE they can get with the right core skills to get the job done. This may often appear from the outside like they are discriminating against age, but it's more likely they are discriminating against people who have certain salary expectations, and younger people will generally work for less not having a mortgage, family to support, etc.

Personally, I'd want people with experience in the field over a cheap employee, but if I can't get experience, I certainly wouldn't pay a premium price up front.

It's my experience that your earning potential as an attorney is significantly higher than being on the IT or investigative sides of digital evidence, certainly in the US. Have you considered using your skillset for eDiscovery?
_________________
Tony Patrick, B. Inf Tech, CFCE
www.patrickcomputerfor...s.com/blog
www.twitter.com/Patrick4n6 

Patrick4n6
Senior Member
 
 
  

Re: Age Discrimination Forensic Field?

Post Posted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:53 am

- Patrick4n6
I don't think that employers do want young employees for CF...Personally, I'd want people with experience in the field over a cheap employee, but if I can't get experience, I certainly wouldn't pay a premium price up front...It's my experience that your earning potential as an attorney is significantly higher than being on the IT or investigative sides of digital evidence, certainly in the US. Have you considered using your skillset for eDiscovery?


Agreed. A decent investigator has 'life experience', along with knowledge and skills from all sorts of disparate areas. You're unlikely to find this in someone in their early 20s, green behind the ears and fresh out of college. Plus, what's a judge/jury going to think of a self-proclaimed expert witness who is only 21 or 22? Not much in all likelihood. Unless a candidate was exceptional I can't see wanting to work with one who's much younger than their mid-30s. But perhaps that's just me.

Good luck to the OP.

Happy Christmas, y'all.
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Forensic Control
twitter.com/ForensicControl 

Jonathan
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