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Criminal Justice Schools and Programs
Information about Criminal Justice Programs
Private detectives and investigators assist individuals, businesses, and attorneys by finding and analyzing information. They connect small clues to solve mysteries or to uncover facts about legal, financial, or personal matters. Private detectives and investigators offer many services, including executive, corporate, and celebrity protection; pre-employment verification; and individual background profiles. Some investigate computer crimes, such as identity theft, harassing e-mails, and illegal downloading of copyrighted material. They also provide assistance in criminal and civil liability cases, insurance claims and fraud, child custody and protection cases, missing persons cases, and premarital screening. They are sometimes hired to investigate individuals to prove or disprove infidelity.
Criminal Justice Job Types
Computer forensic investigators
Loss prevention agents
Education Needed for Criminal Justice Jobs
Most private detectives and investigators have some college education and previous experience in investigative work. In most States, they are required to be licensed.
There are no formal education requirements for most private detective and investigator jobs, although many have college degrees. Courses in criminal justice and police science are helpful to aspiring private detectives and investigators. Although related experience is usually required, some people enter the occupation directly after graduation from college, generally with an associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or police science.
Most corporate investigators must have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a business-related field. Some corporate investigators have a masters in business administration or a legal degree; others are Certified Public Accountants with accounting degrees.
For computer forensics work, a computer science or accounting degree is more helpful than a criminal justice degree. An accounting degree provides good background knowledge for investigating fraud through computer forensics. Either of these two degrees provides a good starting point after which investigative techniques can be learned on the job. Alternatively, many colleges and universities now offer certificate programs, requiring from 15 to 21 credits, in computer forensics.
The majority of States and the District of Columbia require private detectives and investigators to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary, however. Seven States—Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, and South Dakota—have no Statewide licensing requirements, some States have few requirements, and many others have stringent regulations.
Employment Outlook for Criminal Justice Jobs
Employment of private detectives and investigators is expected to grow 18 percent over the 2006-16 decade, faster than the average for all occupations. Increased demand for private detectives and investigators will result from heightened security concerns, increased litigation, and the need to protect confidential information and all kinds of property.
The proliferation of criminal activity on the Internet, such as identity theft, spamming, e-mail harassment, and illegal downloading of copyrighted materials, will also increase the demand for private investigators. Employee background checks, conducted by private investigators, will become standard for an increasing number of jobs. Growing financial activity worldwide will increase the demand for investigators to control internal and external financial losses, to monitor competitors, and to prevent industrial spying. High competition is expected for most jobs despite faster-than-average employment growth.
Earnings and Pay in Criminal Justice
Median annual earnings of salaried private detectives and investigators were $33,750 in May 2006. The highest 10 percent earned more than $64,380. Earnings of private detectives and investigators vary greatly by employer, specialty, and geographic area.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, Private Detectives and Investigators, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos157.htm
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