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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.

Corporate background investigators must have a thorough understanding of business protocols and hiring procedures, and can specialize in a particular industry. Most employers prefer candidates who hold bachelor's degrees, and previous experience in investigations or screening can prove beneficial to candidates.

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 may be required in this line of work.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Previous related work experience; state licensure
Projected Job Growth 5% from 2014-2024 (for all private detectives and investigators)*
Mean Annual Wage (2015) $52,840 (for all private detectives and investigators)*

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. 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 usually 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 in general, though a few states do not regulate the profession. Although requirements vary significantly from state to state, some common requirements include having enough hours of education in fields like law enforcement and criminal justice, passing state and federal background checks, being insured for liability, and meeting any age requirements. Investigators who travel for the job may also need a valid driver's license.

Certification Requirements

Some employers and government agencies may require specific certification and clearance for investigators. According to the BLS, certification is not required on universally regulated throughout the profession. There are industry-specific trade organizations that provide corporate background investigators with certification options.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, private detectives and investigators in general earned an annual average salary of $52,840 in 2015. Those working for organizations that manufacture control instruments, electromedical supplies, measuring tools, and navigational instruments were reported to have earned the top average annual salary of $84,960 in that same year. Employment for investigators was expected to increase by 5% from 2014-2024, as projected by the BLS.

Corporate background investigators are resourceful individuals who work for a wide range of businesses to conduct employee screenings and other types of business-related investigations. Bachelor's degrees are preferred by employers in this industry, and special clearance, licensure and certification may be required. Job opportunities for all investigators are predicted to rise slower than average through 2024.

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