Corporate Background Investigator: Job Description and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation necessary to become a corporate background investigator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Corporations, attorneys, individuals and government agencies employ corporate background investigators to gather and report information about employees or businesses. Depending on the industries they serve, investigators need knowledge of specific laws, regulations or business practices. Licensure, certification or security clearance is often required in this line of work.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Previous work experience; state licensure
Projected Job Growth 11% from 2012-2022*
Mean Annual Wage (2014) $52,880*

Source: *U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of a Corporate Background Investigator

Corporate background investigators conduct internal and external investigations of a company's employees. They're typically responsible for pre-employment screening but can also be hired to investigate employee misconduct, harassment claims and illegal or improper activities. Additionally, they can offer private services to individuals.

Though primarily used for employee background screening, corporate background investigators can also execute an examination of businesses, as well. They might research security breaches, corporate risks, liability and unfair trade practices to provide information for possible mergers or partnerships. Corporate background investigators could also be employed or contracted to perform accounting, technical or vendor investigations.

Specialized Investigations

Many corporate background investigation firms offer specialized services for particular industries. Common services, such as criminal history, credit, employment and education checks, are typically offered for all types of businesses. However, additional investigations for a particular industry, such as healthcare, finance or gaming, provide specialized information not covered by standard screening services. For example, hospitals and healthcare companies might require medical licensure or registry checks, while financial institutions could need information regarding insurance issues, assets or Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing history.

Requirements to Become a Corporate Background Investigator

Education Requirements

The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that corporate private investigators are typically required to have a bachelor's degree, though no specific major is required. Depending on the job, an investigator may have an associate's degree. Some relevant coursework includes business administration, accounting, criminal justice and computer science. Since technology plays a vital part in the job of a corporate background investigator, obtaining some training in computers is generally helpful.

Experience Requirements

Employers generally require or prefer applicants with some field experience in background screening and investigations. While some academic programs can provide training in this area, internship programs offered through several schools and degree programs expose students to real-world situations and procedures.

Licensure Requirements

Licensure is a common state requirement for investigators, though a few states do not regulate the profession. Some states implement an age restriction, require specific education in law enforcement or criminal justice, assess a federal and state background check or administer testing. Investigators that travel for the job also require a valid driver's license.

Certification Requirements

Some employers and government agencies require specific certification and clearance for investigators. Those providing services for the military or federal agencies could need to submit to their own thorough background screening to obtain the Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI) credential that provides sufficient security clearance levels.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, private detectives and investigators in general earned an annual average salary of $52,880 in 2014, while those working for management of companies earned the top average salary of $55,430. Employment for these investigators was expected to increase by 11% from 2012-2022, projected the BLS.

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