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Online Colleges for Private Criminal Investigation

Career Overview: The P.I. Life

Investigation employees can be found in many areas of law enforcement and public safety. Criminal investigators work at local, state and federal levels, gathering facts and evidence, interviewing individuals and working closely with others in law enforcement. About 21 percent of private investigators are self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the highest levels of employment are in investigation and security services companies. Just think of the private investigator hired in the Baby Lisa case. Investigation employees can also be found in computer forensics, fire departments, insurance companies, offices of attorneys and more. Some investigators become consultants for businesses or corporations.

Investigation Online Programs

Though there are no clear-cut educational requirements for investigators beyond a high school diploma, applicants who hold a degree might have a competitive edge. Many online schools offer a variety of options for those who need required knowledge of law enforcement, including every degree level from certificate to doctorate. Online investigation programs can be found through bachelor and master's degrees in criminal justice that are common offerings among online schools. Given the atmosphere of security concerns in recent years, the online associate, bachelor and master's degrees in Homeland Security could be growing in popularity. In some cases, such as computer forensics, a degree in accounting or a related field could be more beneficial than a degree in criminal justice. Keep in mind that work in federal agencies often requires a bachelor's degree or higher. For those who have already obtained a degree, online certificate programs provide continuing education and increased knowledge. See online colleges for criminal justice for more education options.

Most states require investigators to be licensed, though the licensing requirements vary widely. Employment of private detectives and investigators is expected to grow by 22 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Heightened security concerns and increased litigation are expected to help drive the growth. Job opportunities on local levels are expected to be favorable, while competition for positions on the state and Federal levels could be keen. Wages vary by chosen career. For example, the mean annual wages earned by private detectives and investigators were $47,830, according to 2010 BLS data, while fire inspectors and investigators earned mean annual wages of $56,160, and criminal investigators earned $73,010. Those interested in investigation degrees could also pursue occupations in related positions and find a career as an accountant, auditor, gaming surveillance office, police officer, and more.

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