Private Investigation Training Classes and Certification

As a private investigator, you'd help others find the evidence they need to solve an unexplained event or find a missing person. Continue reading to learn more about the duties involved, the training needed, certification options and potential employers. Schools offering Law Enforcement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Private Investigator?

The duties of a private investigator generally depend on the case on which they are working. For example, you may try to find a missing person, gather classified information or find solutions for unsolved crimes. In this position, you could also uncover fraudulent activities, perform undercover operations, analyze information on criminals or monitor commercial properties.

Duties Finding missing persons, gathering classified information, finding solutions for unsolved crimes, performing undercover operations, uncovering fraudulent activities
Common Courses Criminal law, criminal investigation theories, investigation principles, loss prevention, professional communication
CertificationsCertification is not required, and it may require meeting specific education and experience requirements in addition to taking an exam
Career Environments Banks, government agencies, private investigation firms, legal services firms, insurance agencies

What Should I Study?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most private investigators and detectives have some prior experience in law enforcement or the military, and they may need a license ( You can find associate's and bachelor's degree programs in fields like police science and criminal justice. If you want to focus solely on private investigation studies, you may want to consider a private investigator certificate program, which can be found as both online and campus-based programs. If you wish to specialize in computer or forensic accounting, you may also want to consider earning a degree or certificate in accounting or computer forensics.

Coursework in private investigation certificate programs offers training in court systems and criminal law, as well as industry-standard investigation techniques. You may learn about report writing, criminal law, law enforcement and undercover operations. Other areas of study may include evidence gathering and legal proceedings. The following are examples of class topics you might find in the curriculum:

  • Criminal investigation theories
  • Loss prevention
  • Investigation principles
  • Criminal law
  • Professional communication

What Certifications Are Available?

While certification is not required to work as a private investigator, there are options available to help you prove competency in your field. For instance, ASIS International confers the Professional Certified Investigator credential and the National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI) offers a Certified Legal Investigator certification. Certification requires meeting specific education and experience requirements, as well as passing an exam.

Where Can I Work?

If you want to work as a private investigator, you could work for a number of organizations in the public and private sectors, such as banks, government agencies or private investigation firms. In addition to private practice, you could also find employment at insurance agencies, legal services firms or merchandising stores.

You could also be hired to obtain evidence that will be used in divorce, missing persons or child custody hearings. Some of your daily tasks could include testifying at hearings, maintaining case files or alerting law enforcement agencies to the location of dangerous criminals.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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