Criminal Justice Schools by State

Private Investigator Detective Careers

Private investigators come from all walks of life and can earn their qualifications in various ways. The requirements for becoming a private investigator are dependent on state regulations, and often this career requires being licensed in the state after earning education in the field. When considering how to obtain the educational requirements to become a Private Investigator, a campus-based or online private investigator degree may be required.  Some states, however, allow the completion of private investigator certification and/or training programs offered through both online and on-campus colleges and universities to fulfill certification requirements. Once you have earned your PI certificate and have become licensed (where required), there are various careers one can work in:
  • Self-employed Investigators work independently, or in a private firm, and obtain work on a per-case basis. These cases may range from legal problems and spousal discord to routine security and child custody cases. These investigators may also contract their work out to corporations and law firms in order to assist in more long-term projects as outlined below.
  • Corporate Investigators are employed by a corporation to perform internal or external investigations as needed. These investigations can range from drug use and internal theft to fraudulent accounting and corporate espionage.
  • Legal Investigators are employed by private law firms to assist in legal proceedings. Responsibilities in this realm of investigation include preparing criminal defenses, testifying at trial, performing interviews, writing reports, collecting information including photographs and physical evidence, and locating persons of interest or witnesses.
  • Loss Prevention Investigators are employed by retail establishments such as stores, hotels, and the like. It is their responsibility to prevent both internal and external theft from occurring in these establishments, investigate suspected internal theft, and catch internal and external thefts that do occur. During special events, these investigators may also provide security for the establishment and help to maintain order.

Within any private investigation career, there are several areas where one can develop an expertise. Some areas of specialty include computer forensics investigation, financial investigation, and fraud investigation, among others. Investigators with these specialties can work in any of the above realms of investigation, and mainly focus on cases in their area of expertise.

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