How to Become a Private Investigator

Projected Job Growth: 21%
Projected Employment Change: 7,100

Private investigators work for individuals and organizations looking for information on specific matters, typically regarding legal, personal, or financial issues. In this occupation, one can find themselves conducting a wide range of duties, including, but not limited to, conducting surveillance, interviewing people, finding and collecting evidence, and observing suspects. Services offered by these types of investigators include background verification, finding missing persons, protecting high-profile individuals, investigating computer and other crimes, and more. Many accredited online degree programs in criminal justice can help one obtain the skills necessary to provide these types of services. As the above projections, which are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, indicate, jobs for private investigators are expected to increase faster than average for all occupations.

Why Private Investigation?

Private investigation is an exciting and challenging field if you’re a curious individual with a knack for putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Those who don’t want to be stuck working in an office all day may be attracted to this field because of the many different work environments involved. According to the BLS, the demand for more private investigators is projected to come as a result of heightened security concerns and an increased desire to protect confidential information and personal property. An increasing number of cyber crimes like identity theft and spamming, and Internet scams, such as financial and insurance fraud, will also increase the demand for private investigators.

Getting Into Private Investigation

While there is no set educational path that leads to a career in private investigation, there are some majors that can prepare you for it better than others. Studying political science or criminal justice, which is often an option in online degree programs from major universities, can help one become familiar with law. A general knowledge of federal, state, and local laws regarding privacy and other types of legal issues is often necessary for private investigator positions. Along with law, online degree programs in criminal justice cover topics like corrections, security operations, crime scene investigation, and cyber crime. While previous work experience in the legal field, law enforcement, or intelligence can help you to obtain a position as a private investigator, learning on the job is also a common practice.