How Do I Become a Data Recovery Specialist?

Gabriele Sturmer

A data recovery specialist is responsible for managing a company's data backups and for recovering lost or damaged data from storage devices. Although some perform their services exclusively for businesses, data recovery specialists also may work for the public and specialize in recovering lost data from their customers' hard drives, floppy disks, tape drives, flash drives, compact discs (CDs), digital video discs (DVDs) and memory cards. Those working for businesses may perform other system administration duties, including maintaining hardware and software and managing the company's network. To become a data recovery specialist, you will need to learn about various file systems, recovery techniques and backup systems. You also will likely need a bachelor's or master's degree, relevant certifications and extensive experience in the technology field.

A data recovery specialist may work on flash drives and other portable storage devices.
A data recovery specialist may work on flash drives and other portable storage devices.

To become a data recovery specialist, a bachelor's degree or higher in technology, computer science, information assurance or computer engineering is usually required. In addition to any required program courses in networking, security, operating systems and programming, you may want to take elective courses in disaster recovery, file systems and computer forensics. Your courses may not deal specifically with data recovery tools and techniques, so you may take certification classes at another location or online that deal with data recovery, disaster prevention, system management and recovery planning. Some employers also may require specific certifications in server operating systems or security to consider you for specific jobs.

Data CDs may be used by specialists to recover data or install helpful software.
Data CDs may be used by specialists to recover data or install helpful software.

You will need to know how to create data recovery plans and how to use various data backup and recovery programs to become a data recovery specialist. Knowing how various storage devices work and having a solid understanding of the file system formats used for popular operating systems are critical for recovering data for businesses and customers. You also will need experience in computer networking and network storage devices, because many companies use network storage for data. Taking additional courses, reading books and attending technology seminars are common ways to acquire the required knowledge to become a data recovery specialist.

A data recovery specialist can recover lost data from floppy disks.
A data recovery specialist can recover lost data from floppy disks.

Experience is critical if you want to become a data recovery specialist, and employers require varying levels of experience for different roles. Data recovery specialist jobs range from entry-level technician positions to engineering and management jobs. Data recovery technicians usually need two or more years of experience in networking, security and data recovery, while engineers and managers may need from five to seven years of experience, including years using specific backup programs and creating data management policies. Government jobs for data recovery specialists also may require security clearance.

Data recovery is a specialty within the computer science field.
Data recovery is a specialty within the computer science field.

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