According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the fastest-growing occupational fields through 2020 is private detective work, which requires little education or experience for entry and paid an average of over $20 per hour in 2010. An easy way to gain the necessary knowledge for such work is through a correspondence school program.

Learning Procedure

Correspondence school private investigator programs allow students to read through materials at home at their leisure and then take exams online or through the mail to demonstrate concept mastery. Lessons typically focus on a single investigatory skill, often using real-world examples. The Global School of Investigation, for instance, emphasizes practical application of material in each step of the course. Their students perform field exercises to learn the necessary skills for investigation. Most programs offer materials in written, audio and visual forms.

Typical Coursework

Classes in private investigator correspondence programs explain the basics of the criminal justice system, types of evidence, and interview and interrogation techniques. They also cover how to search for people using various systems, such as the Internet and military records, and how to investigate people through automobile and foot surveillance, photography, DNA testing, and crime scene analysis. The students also learn about bounty hunting, searching for missing persons, lock picking, bodyguard training and jurisdictional understanding. Stratford Career Institute students can complete the program as little as six months, and the Detective Training Institute program takes 700 hours. Programs often include classes to help graduates open their own private investigation offices.


Many correspondence courses for private investigation provide students with manuals covering the techniques and laws regarding the various aspects of investigation, but some include other materials, as well. For instance, Global School of Investigation students can get a separate surveillance training DVD and a badge, and the Detective Training Institute offers an equipment catalog helpful for conducting business after graduation.

Licensing and Employment

Completion of a correspondence program in private investigation opens opportunities to work for law enforcement departments, businesses, security companies, insurance companies, retail outlets and individuals. Many states require private investigators to obtain a license, which typically requires more training than just these programs. For instance, California demands a combination of schooling and investigative work experience, as well as an exam. New York also requires passing an exam and obtaining experience. Usually, you must obtain a license only if you intend to run your own investigation firm.

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