If you have a knack for analyzing and problem-solving, you might consider a future as a private investigator or private detective. Fortunately, there are several private investigation schools in Georgia that can provide you with the education and skills you need to join this fast-paced, dynamic industry. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics lists 9 schools in Georgia that offer programs in law enforcement investigation, financial forensics and fraud investigation, evidence management, corrections and criminal justice, and criminal science.
These programs could have the potential to lead to many different types of jobs. With the right training and education, you might be able to find work as a legal investigator -- a private detective who hunts down evidence for criminal defenses and civil lawsuits. Or perhaps you could train to be a corporate investigator -- a detective who is hired by corporations to do both internal and external investigations. Whichever path you choose, private investigation schools in Georgia can help prepare you for a bright future in this career.
Private Investigation Specializations
Private investigators are needed in a wide range of fields and many choose to focus on one range of tasks or a specialization. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the following specializations are some of the most common:
- Computer forensic investigators specialize in recovering lost data on computers or hardware so it can be used as evidence.
- Corporate investigators are hired by corporations to conduct a wide range of internal and external investigations.
- Financial investigators specialize in uncovering private data on individuals or businesses attempting to do large financial transactions.
- Legal investigators conduct investigations and recover evidence that can be used in criminal proceedings.
- Store detectives go undercover in retail and department stores in order to catch thieves and criminals.
Private Investigation Certifications and Degrees
According to the BLS, most unspecialized private investigators and detectives need a high school diploma and experience working in some aspect of law enforcement. However, some employers and individuals prefer to hire private investigators and detectives with a college degree, and many pursue this career with an associate degree or bachelor's degree in criminal justice or police science. Some also opt to earn an associate or bachelor's degree, and then continue their education by earning a certificate in the field where they plan to specialize.
Some private investigation specializations, such as corporate investigation, may require experience and education in fields such as finance, accounting, and business. Meanwhile, computer forensic investigators may need experience or a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science or Criminal Justice. Some financial investigators also become a CPA, or Certified Public Accountant.
Licensing requirements vary by state, but most states do require private investigators and detectives to have a license. Private detectives who carry a handgun or work as a body guard may also need additional permits or certifications, although those requirements also vary by state.
Because technology is constantly changing, many private investigators and detectives also participate in continued education. Sometimes these courses focus on new methods of gathering information, and other times they introduce new software programs that can make some aspects of the job easier or more efficient.
Private Investigation Salary and Career Outlook
As of May 2013, 520 individuals worked as private investigators or detectives in the state of Georgia. However, according to BLS data, that figure is expected to climb 8.7 percent during the decade leading up to 2022.
Salaries for this career also remain relatively high. BLS data shows that the annual mean wage for private detectives and investigators in Georgia was $49,760 in 2013, a figure that is much higher than the national mean wage of $46,250 the same year. The Atlanta - Sandy Springs - Marietta area is also listed in the top ten metropolitan areas in the United States when measured against other regions for their level of employment for this occupation. That region boasted employment of 340 private investigators and detectives and reported an annual mean wage of $51,220 in 2013.
Starting a career as a private investigator may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. To get started, you simply need to research private investigation schools in Georgia and pick a program that works with your location and lifestyle. Once you do, you'll be on the fast track to a start in this career.
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=GA&p=43.0114+43.0117+43.0115+43.0199+43.0111
- Georgia, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ga.htm#33-0000
- Private Detectives and Investigators, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/private-detectives-and-investigators.htm#tab-1
- Private Detectives and Investigators, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm
- Projections Central, Long-term Occupations Projections, https://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm