Are Private Investigator Trade Schools Worth Attending?
While a private investigator has no official education requirements, it isn't a career you can start without any formal training. At the very least, you should take courses in criminal law, justice, and police science. Some private investigators choose to specialize in one area, such as computer forensics, in which case you also need to study computer science or accounting. Private investigator trade schools typically offer computer forensic certificate programs.
Other necessary skills to survive in private investigation may include using databases to gather information, and surveillance techniques. If you plan to use firearms or work in security or protection, you may also need courses in weapons retention and the laws covering the use of force.
All but seven states require a private investigator to obtain a license, but the actual licensing requirements vary.
Breaking into the Private Investigation Field
As you might assume, you could begin a career as a private investigator, working to uncover clues or discover facts. You could work for executive or corporate clients, provide celebrity protection, do pre-employment verification, find evidence to support child custody cases, investigate insurance crimes or fraud, prove or disprove infidelity, find a missing person, or put together individual background profiles. With additional training in computer crimes, you might work on investigating identify theft or harassing emails.
Three in ten private investigators are self-employed and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects significant competition for job openings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with computer forensic training may have better opportunities. The mean annual wage for private investigators was $46,480 in 2008 and the average hourly wage was $22.35.