Private Investigator education is not specific and a degree for this career often depends on the area of interest or practice. Becoming a Private Investigator is a complex line of work. There may be times when you need to go undercover, stake out your targeted suspect, or look for “dirt” on a client’s nemesis.
What Knowledge and Skills Should a PI Have?
Private Investigators need to have strong knowledge of criminal justice procedures and policies. They may also have a background in pre-law or have taken classes in criminal justice. Some may even benefit from a BS in Criminal Justice with a concentration in human services. So, what degree should you get if you want to be a Private Investigator? It depends. The field is broad, and there are many areas of interest. Here are some examples.
Some private investigators may focus on financial corruption within corporations or a client’s accounting issues. If this is the case, then getting a degree in Finance or Accounting would be beneficial to the private investigator to have. There are also many types of private investigators. Some are legal investigators, arson investigators, corporate investigators, cyber investigators, and infidelity investigators. Other types may also include workman’s compensation investigators and accident reconstruction, investigators. Depending on the type of investigator you want to be, would dictate what degree you should focus.
Specialized Fields in Private Investigation
- Cyber investigators: These investigators would focus on Cybersecurity courses. Knowing IT programming or computer terminology is also helpful.
- Corporate investigators: These focus on corporate law or may even have Business degrees to make their “investigations” easier to do.
- Arson investigators: They are most often law enforcement officers or Firefighters that gain their information through training.
- Accident Reconstruction investigator: These types of PIs determine the cause of accidents, look at data, measure impact, and “reconstruct” the incident to find solutions.
- Infidelity investigators: gathering information about the person of interest’s activities and interactions, surveilling the area, including researching and interviewing witnesses.
- Workman’s Compensation investigators: Sometimes bad things happen at work. PIs working as workman’s compensation investigators will periodically check out workers’ “claims”, and determine if they are legit. If so, fine. However, they must notify the employer if the claim is fake or exaggerated.
Do You Need a Degree to Become a Private Investigator?
Not necessarily. In some states, being a PI does not require a law degree or some form of course program in law enforcement to work as a PI. Although, you would probably not get very far without one. Many PIs working has just the basic schooling or education needed to do the job. However, for those who choose to excel at their job as a PI, then some college would be helpful.
As a Private Investigator, a degree in the criminal investigation will definitely make a difference in your work ethic. Some PI’s can get away with just taking some basic courses in the concentrated field of interest. However, most private investigators opt to earn either an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in the concentrated field. Unfortunately, there is no specific degree for arson investigators. Yet knowledge of fire and crime scene investigation is helpful.
State PI Education and Experience Requirements
Some states may have similar requirements for education degrees for private investigators. However, they may not all have the same coursework. For example, to become an Accident Reconstruction Investigator in Texas, a Bachelor’s degree in either Public Safety or participating in the Traffic Accident Reconstruction Course program is needed. Having a basic understanding of the chemistry of explosives is useful to have as well.
The good news is that Texas has a state agency that teaches classes on the subject. The agency is called TAARS. Other states might have similar agencies. TAARS does provide scholarships to those eligible for the course. Currently, TAARS has over 220 members. Their courses are open, but not limited to all law enforcement personnel, private investigators, engineers, and also attorneys.
Private Investigator Courses
Courses that private investigators can benefit from are located at public or private institutions, trade schools, and also community colleges. Additionally, some classes may be available online or on campus. For Arson investigation coursework, contacting your local fire station or fire academy may be helpful.
What Degrees Do Most Private Investigators Have?
Getting a degree in criminal law, crime scene investigation, legal studies, or law enforcement in general, will help provide the means for a private investigator to do their job well, and do it successfully. In fact, the more knowledge you have of the field, the better your chances are of finding the information you need to be successful. Private Investigators may even get a better clientele, as a result. Plus, you can receive the salary pay you truly deserve as a Private Investigator.
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