The Value of EnCE Certification

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The value of computer certifications in general is debatable. For many certifications it is possible to simply study a book, maybe purchase some Transcenders, take the exam and call yourself “certified.” I know several people who have brought “certified” individuals in for interviews and sat them down in front of relevant operating system or piece of equipment only to find that this person either has no idea how to log on or to power on the equipment.

Guidance Software has nullified this concern with the EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCE) certification. While you could theoretically pass the written portion of the exam by studying a book such as The Official EnCase Certified Examiner Study Guide by Steve Bunting and William Wei, the practical portion of the exam requires at least a moderate amount of experience with computer forensic analysis.

Even for the experienced examiner there are portions of the exam that can prove challenging. In some cases the challenge is derived from the fact that the certification candidate has not performed a particular analysis technique before. In other instances the challenge is in bringing seldom used analysis techniques to the forefront of one’s mind.

Regardless of how the certification candidate is challenged, one thing holds true: Guidance Software has built the EnCE exam to test and reinforce the tenets of computer forensic analysis.

I read a post in a computer forensics forum recently in which the poster was asking about computer forensics certifications. The post is several years old but still relevant and somewhat humorous. The individual was looking for information about the EnCE certification. He claimed to be looking for a certification that would help him increase his salary and enhance his ability “to get girls” and wondered whether the EnCE was his ticket.

In terms of the EnCE’s ability to help him increase his salary, I’d say it depends on the employer. Some employers value the commitment that it takes to obtain a certification and will reward the individual appropriately, whether by salary increase or perhaps a bonus. Other employers will view a certification as something that is just “nice to have” and let you go on your merry way.

In my opinion, certification (and the EnCE in particular) is a way to validate your skills. Computer forensics is a niche skill and while there may be a number of people out there who say they have used EnCase or “done forensics” before, there are not a tremendous number of people who have validated their skills by becoming certified. My advice to the previously mentioned prospective certification candidate is that the EnCE certification will make you stand out from the rest of the application pool being received by potential employers.

Sure, there is always that guy who has no education beyond high school and no technical certifications but is an absolute genius when it comes to things IT. Unless you know this guy and have worked with him though, when it comes to the interview he’s just a guy who has some computer experience. If you go in to the same interview with some experience and the EnCE, you win (in my opinion) because you have the experience and the certification to validate that experience.

I was married prior to obtaining the EnCE so I can’t really opine on whether or not said certification enhances one’s ability “to get girls.” If I were a betting man, which I am, I’d say no. A technical certification may have worked to his advantage in the mid-Nineties but these days most certifications are so dime-a-dozen that girls just aren’t impressed anymore.

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