Private investigation may not be as adventurous a trade as detective novels make it out to be, but the professionals in this field can make a positive difference in clients' lives regardless. Tennessee could be a great place to start off your career. Projections Central predicts that private detectives and investigators will see a 34% increase in jobs from 2012-2022, which is three times the national average for that career. Private investigation schools in Tennessee can train you to use the techniques and technologies of modern investigation and prepare you to launch a rewarding career in the field.
The expertise you pick up while studying investigations can also apply to other career paths. Private investigation graduates are also typically able to use their skills as loss-prevention operatives, working to keep retail environments safe from theft, or in a slightly more cloak-and-dagger capacity as corporate intelligence personnel.
Private investigation specializations
It's often the case that private investigators choose to specialize in one or more specific aspects of the job. Here are a few of the specialized types of private investigation work:
- Legal investigators assist law firms and attorneys with checking facts, locating witnesses, serving documents and assembling information for use in criminal cases and lawsuits.
- Financial investigators work with investment banks and other parties who conduct large-scale transactions to locate assets or collect financial information.
- Computer forensic investigators focus on recovering, deciphering, analyzing and reporting on lost digital objects like deleted emails or documents.
- Corporate investigators are employed by businesses to stop or prevent cases of fraud, abuse and criminal activity both within and outside of the company.
Private investigation schools in Tennessee can prepare students for the investigative necessities of each of these specializations, and some may be able to provide the specialized education you need to begin working within your chosen specialty shortly after graduation. However, some investigation schools only cover the basics, and leave it up to you to complete any additional education that may be necessary.
Private investigation certification and degree programs
Prior work experience is often the deciding factor in hiring decisions at investigations firms, according to the BLS, but employers in certain specializations might also set education requirements for their candidates. Aspiring corporate investigators, for example, are usually encouraged to prepare for the job with bachelor's-level coursework in finance, accounting and business. Financial investigators typically earn at least a bachelor's degree, also, and tend to have several years of experience as certified public accountants (CPAs) before moving into investigations.
A bachelor's or associate degree in criminal justice is common in the field as well, and some schools may even offer a fully dedicated private investigations degree program. Most degrees that prepare students for PI work will cover subjects like the following:
- Legal principles
- Investigation business basics
- Computer investigations
- Competitive intelligence
- Executive protection
- Loss prevention
- Homeland security
The Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance maintains a list of requirements for Tennessee private investigator licensing, which all investigators in the state need to practice legally. Here are a few of the requirements:
- Be 21 years of age or older and a U.S. citizen
- Pass a background check conducted by both the state and federal boards of investigation
- Be affiliated with a licensed private investigations company
- Pass an exam that tests investigations knowledge and competence
Tennessee private investigator licenses must be renewed every 24 months and require 12 hours of continuing education during each renewal period in order to retain eligibility.
Private investigator salary and career outlook
Employment opportunities for private investigators nationwide are expected to increase by 11 percent between 2012 and 2022, keeping pace with the growth of the labor market at large. The outlook in Tennessee is much more encouraging; the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development expects private investigator employment to increase by more than three times the national average, at 34 percent projected growth.
On top of that, income figures for private investigators employed in 2013 show advantages for Tennessee-based PIs over those working elsewhere in the country. Private investigators in Tennessee reported a mean annual wage of $56,900 in 2013, while the national average annual wage topped out at just $53,890.If you're detail-oriented, persistent, honest and tech-savvy, a career as a private investigator might just be right up your alley. Private investigation schools in Tennessee are there to help you study up on the fundamentals and prepare to take the next step. For more information about the realities of investigations work, check with a local PI agency to see if they can help you get a picture of the everyday activities of the profession.
- Private Detectives and Investigators, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Protective-Service/Private-detectives-and-investigators.htm
- Private Detectives and Investigators, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm
- Private Detectives and Investigators, Occupational Information Network, 2013, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-9021.00
- May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Tennessee, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_tn.htm
- Wage Information: Private Detectives and Investigators, U.S. Department of Labor, CareerOneStop, http://www.onetonline.org/link/wages/33-9021.00?w=1&st=TN&g=Go
- Private Detectives and Investigators: Tennessee, Career InfoNet, 2015, http://www.onetonline.org/link/wages/33-9021.00?e=1&st=TN&g=Go
- Private Investigator Requirements, Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission, http://tn.gov/regboards/pi/pirReq.shtml
- Private Investigator Program Overview, Penn Foster Career School, 2015, http://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/law-enforcement/private-investigator-career-diploma.aspx
- Investigations Degree - Bachelor of Science, Bellevue University, 2015, http://www.bellevue.edu/degrees/bachelor/investigations-bs/
- Tennessee, Long Term Occupational Projections, https://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm