Experienced public universities, local training academies, online colleges, and a variety of similar organizations can offer robust training and private investigator certifications. This is an excellent way to add new skills that can generate additional revenue, expand a current skillset to be more applicable to today’s clients, or keep up to date in a rapidly changing field. If your firm is interested in these opportunities (or possibly co-funding them for your PIs) in 2021, here are some of the top certifications and programs to consider.
Training in computer forensics is important even for PIs that have experience in computer research and digital forensic applications. The online world is constantly changing, while security and privacy concerns continue to evolve. Training in computer forensics both equips a PI for online investigations – now a core part of a PI’s job and frequent time-saver – and helps them keep up to date on the latest techniques and potential liability issues if they overstep.
Communication and Interviewing
PIs may also want to look for a training program that includes rigorous courses on communication and interviewing as a method of gathering information or preparing witnesses for court. This is a common part of investigations, and classes can help PIs become far more efficient at getting an accurate story, watching for inconsistencies, encouraging hesitant witnesses, and recording information without bias, among other important skills.
It has become increasingly common to turn to PIs as experts that can advise on computer security and offer consultation services for protecting someone’s online data and what privacy practices should be followed. There are two common tracks for this – the first is private consultations with individuals, often marketed to those who recently had their identify stolen or who may be worried about a specific attempt to steal their online information. The second is commercial consultations with businesses worried about security or privacy compliance, potentially with the ability to conduct security/privacy audits if a PI wants to pursue this like of education far enough.
Also, for PIs who prefer to be out in the field, security services don’t always have to be online: Training and certification as a security guard may be particularly useful to certain clients!
Sometimes seen as a parallel track for those interested in private investigation, earning arson investigation certification allows PIs to consult on suspicious fire damage. While learning-intensive, this type of certification is an excellent way to expand services and potentially earn more income or transition into a different career mix, depending on your future plans.
Criminal Justice Degree/Certification
A criminal justice degree can both open the door to new career opportunities and give a PI more leverage when it comes to specific jobs. We particularly recommend this track for PIs that work with attorneys or those interested in finding more long-term law firm clients. Criminal Justice degrees cover crime policy and prevention, ethics in investigations, leading an investigation, and various ins and outs of the criminal justice system as it works today.
There are also similar programs that offer certification without a degree and can help PIs expand their court-friendly skills even more. This includes Certified Legal Investigator certification through the National Association of Legal Investigators, as well as certification with the Criminal Defense Investigation Training Council, which attorneys always like to see when working with a PI.
Evidence Collection Class
While not technically a certification, it’s still a good idea to look at local universities and academies and see if they have select classes on evidence collection, tampering, and similar topics. These are a common part of justice-related degrees, and one of the most valuable classes for private investigators to take if evidence is a common part of their job. If your PI certification did not include a robust class on evidence, now is the time to consider.
While this can vary by state, PI qualifications do tend to come with ongoing education requirements every couple of years (Texas, for example, requires this step). It’s always a good time to plan for ongoing education classes to keep up on the latest techniques and regulations. Visit your state licensing website or organization webpage to learn more about continuing education requirements.
Broaden Your Private Investigator Certifications
This year is an excellent time to think about certification to broaden your skillset, avoid mistakes in the field, and qualify for additional income opportunities. If you aren’t sure if you have the time or resources for additional certifications right now, we encourage you to keep the option in mind, and take a look at local or online classes that are a good match for your work.