How to Become a Private Investigator?
Steps to Become an InvestigatorAn investigator works with businesses, individuals, and law enforcement agencies to investigate and solve crimes and securing successful convictions. They complete comprehensive investigations of complex criminal activities and other state, local, or federal violations while collecting, analyzing, and preserving evidence. Investigators direct other law enforcement members and crime scene investigators at crime scenes and use analysis and deductive reasoning to develop informed decisions and conclusions that will lead to prosecution. Here are four steps on how to become an investigator.
Get your degree.
The first step to becoming an investigator is to earn your education. You need a high school diploma or the equivalent to begin a job or gain college entry. You can then pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice, Criminal Investigation, or other relevant fields such as forensics, sociology, or psychology.
You may also progress from an officer to an investigator after spending time working within the police field. If you have any college education and have shown interest in becoming an investigator, your employer may promote you rather quickly.
Investigators will need to learn how to do the following in order to complete various tasks you'll encounter while on the job:
- Write case reports.
- Respond to emergencies as they arise.
- Analyze crime scenes.
- Collect evidence.
- Obtain arrest warrants.
- Secure search warrants.
- Testify in a court of law as needed.
- Interview witnesses.
- Maintain case records.
What type of degree should you pursue to become an Investigator?
63% of people working as an Investigator earned a Bachelor's Degree
What skills do you need to be an Investigator?
- Positive Attitude
- Written Communication
- VERBAL Communication
- IN Spanish
Start applying for jobs.
Once you've completed your education and have your degree, you can start applying for jobs as an investigator. If you would like to gain some real-world job experience beforehand and learn more about the criminal justice system, you may wish to work as a victim advocate, correctional officer, or police officer before beginning work as an investigator. You'll also need to learn what type of investigator you want to be, as there are various fields you may wish to specialize in as an investigator. These include:
- Police Detective.
- Criminal Investigator.
- Forensic Detective.
- Computer Detective.
You should focus your resume and cover letter to make them specific for each job. Highlight any special skills you have, previous relevant work experience, and anything else you believe will help you stand apart from the crowd.
Pass a background check.
To begin working as an investigator, you'll need to be able to pass a background check. A background check looks into your professional and personal history and often involves employment history, education, civil records, and criminal records. Once completed, you're ready to begin work and begin your job as an investigator.
When starting a job as an investigator, you'll usually need to undergo some on-the-job training before you're able to begin work by yourself. The type of training required will depend on your employer and whether you're working at the county, state, or federal level. You may also be required to complete the Criminal Investigator Training Program. This program is the only one that the Federal Law Enforcement Training Accreditation accepts.
The Criminal Investigator Training Program will provide instruction to help you remain responsible and competent as an investigator, as well as basic interagency requirements. The program is held in Glynco, Georgia, and will include 59 days of training. You, or your employer, will be responsible for finding a partner organization to enroll you as a trainee in the program. Federal agencies may also enroll trainees.
Private Investigator Career Path
Total Pay Trajectory
Private Investigator Career Path
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