What Are Popular Schools for Private Investigators?

Popular private investigation schools offer certificate and degree programs to those who wish to become private investigators. Most private investigators hold college degrees, especially corporate or computer forensics investigators. Almost all private investigators have a state license. Schools offering Law Enforcement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Popular Schools for Private Investigators

Community colleges and technical schools commonly offer private investigator (PI) certificate programs. Most certificate programs require completion of 36-70 credit hours. Cost may vary depending on the school as well as the type of private investigator program. The types of private investigators and suggested training options for each are discussed below.

Important Facts About Private Investigator Programs

Online Availability Certificate programs are available online; associate's and bachelor's programs in related fields are also offered in an online format
Related Programs Psychology, Criminology, Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement
Degree Levels Some investigators earn a criminal justice or related associate's or bachelor's degree before taking the state licensure exam
Common Courses Criminal Law, Legal Investigation, Public Safety, Emergency Management, Surveillance
Median Salary (2018) $50,090 (for Private Detectives and Investigators)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 11% (for Private Detectives and Investigators)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Insurance Fraud, Employment Services and Divorce

Background checks and surveillance make up the majority of work performed by this type of private investigator. Consider the following schools for training:

  • Boston University: Covers research on the Internet and in public records, interviewing, surveillance and managing your PI business.
  • Northeastern Technical College in South Carolina: Particular focus is on surveillance, investigations, and ethics.

These private investigators collect information for litigation and criminal cases. Often, they find people who are avoiding legal action (a function commonly referred to as skip-tracing).

  • California State University - Monterey Bay: Legal investigation certificate program specifically covers the law of agency, rules of court and evidence, ethics, forensic photography and more.
  • University of Washington - Seattle: Covers civil and criminal investigation techniques, investigation law and evidence preparation.

Corporate Investigation and Financial Fraud

Private investigators in this high-paying field typically start with a degree in forensic accounting and fraud investigation. Accountants may add the following certificates:

  • West Virginia University: Program covers fraud schemes, cyber-crime, criminology, terrorism financing, RICO and other advanced financial crime investigation.

Computer Forensics

A 4-year computer science degree serves as an entry into this growing field. Many popular schools offer degree and certificate programs.

  • Louisiana State University - Alexandria: Prepares candidates for the Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) examination.
  • Community College of Philadelphia: The program leading to an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Digital (or Computer) Forensics calls for two years of general education, plus courses in digital media evidence retrieval, rules of evidence for computer networks, court report preparation and hacking/intrusion investigation.

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:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

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