Polygraph Examiner: Schools & Courses

Learn what qualifications you need to become a polygraph examiner. Get to know the topics you will learn about during the course. Read about the certification and licensing requirements and employment options for polygraph examiners. Schools offering Criminal Justice degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Polygraph examiners use instruments to measure certain physiological responses in people to detect whether they are lying or telling the truth. They typically work in law enforcement, intelligence and counterintelligence, or corrections. Read further to see what qualifications you need to become a polygraph examiner and what a course entails.

What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a Polygraph Examiner?

The minimum requirement is to have completed the Basic Polygraph Examiner Course, followed by registration with the American Polygraph Association (APA). A bachelor's degree with a major in criminology, psychology or law enforcement will greatly increase your job prospects and is a requirement for some positions.

What Will I Learn in a Polygraph Examiner Course?

The Basic Polygraph Examiner Course involves a minimum of 400 hours of theoretical and practical coursework and can be completed full-time in no less than 10 weeks, or part-time in a maximum of 17 weeks.

Subjects include polygraph techniques, interviewing procedures, ethics, legal aspects, and research into physiological and psychological aspects. Other topics are communications and cultural diversity, test question construction, computer polygraph testing, as well as countermeasure and examiner precautions. There is also a practical module where students must conduct polygraph examinations under field-like conditions.

The APA does not recognize basic courses that are done online or via distance learning.

Beyond the basic course, an advanced 40-hour course offered by many schools is Post-Conviction Sex Offender Testing (PCSOT). The results of these tests are used by the US Department of Justice to do risk assessments in probation situations and to inform treatment interventions. They also serve as a deterrent against re-offending.

Which Schools Offer the Basic Polygraph Examiner Course?

The schools and courses listed here are all recognized by both the APA and the American Association of Police Polygraphists (AAPP). They all offer the Basic Polygraph Examiner Course as well as the PCSOT course. Some also offer other further specialist courses.

  • The Marston Polygraph Academy in San Bernardino, California.
  • The Maryland Institute of Criminal Justice in Millersville.
  • PEAK Credibility Assessment Training Center in Cape Coral, Florida.
  • The Polygraph Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

What Are the Certification and Licensing Requirements for Polygraph Examiners?

The requirements vary from state to state. In some states this is managed by the general state licensing body; in others it is the responsibility of the state police.

Police officers can become Certified Forensic Law Enforcement Polygraph Examiners through the AAPP.

Some states require continuing education for licensees to maintain their status, which involves a certain number of hours of instruction or seminar attendance per year.

Many government polygraph examiner roles require federal certification by the National Center for Credibility Assessment. This involves passing the Psychophysiological Detection of Deception examination.

In addition to being licensed and certified, you might need a certain level of security clearance for government and even for some private sector jobs.

What are the Employment Options for Polygraph Examiners?

Polygraph examiners might find work with a range of government bodies, including police departments, the CIA, corrections departments at the state or federal level, and the Justice Department.

In the private sector, they might find work with investigative firms. It is against the law to use polygraph examinations on employees or prospective employees in the private sector, with the exception of certain industries such as armored car companies and people in the pharmaceutical industry involved in the manufacturing of controlled substances.

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:

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