Although no extra educational qualifications are legally required to become a private investigator, would-be investigators can benefit from some specialized knowledge in criminal behavior and law. An associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, political science or a related area prepares graduates to qualify as private investigators.


Apart from a high level of integrity and character, professional investigators are distinguished by their mastery of the procedures, skills and investigative techniques they portray in their work. Prospective students can choose to pursue a career as private detectives by taking college-level courses in accredited learning institutions to acquire the skills and knowledge required for a private investigation position.

Associate of Science in Criminal Justice

Pursuing an Associate of Science degree in criminal justice equips students with basic knowledge of criminal behavior and legal system operations. Even though general courses are required to qualify for the program, graduates may be required to complete an internship or capstone project to become fully accredited. In most colleges, a capstone project is paramount for those who intend to advance into a bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice or related areas. The curriculum covers a broad range of topics including criminal justice administration, terrorism, forensic investigation, behavioral psychology, juvenile delinquency, probation and parole. A high school diploma or its equivalent is required to enroll in a criminal justice program.

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

As a more extensive course of study, a bachelor’s degree program requires students to conduct professional research in the field. According to “U.S. News & World Report,” earning an online bachelor’s degree prepares private investigators for career-focused assignments in line with their efforts to keep neighborhoods and nations safe. In addition to general education courses, students also complete other subjects covering criminology, criminal justice research methods, constitutional law and the juvenile justice system. Graduates are also required to participate in a professional internship in relevant institutions including local, state, federal, security agencies or private firms to gain practical experience that complements their academic qualifications. With a bachelor’s degree, you only need two years of relevant experience to become a licensed private investigator.

Short College Courses

Computer classes and technology courses can be valuable for private investigators when handling sophisticated cases. Much of the work a private investigator does involves the use of technology in the identification, collection and analysis of investigative information and materials. Taking short-term courses can equip you with skills and knowledge to handle computers, information retrieval and other technological functions. Private investigators work in diverse environments, making it relevant to undertake extra training in information technology, ethics, electronic surveillance and counseling to handle the variety of working assignments at their disposal.

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