Criminal Investigator Certification: Options and Requirements

Those who want to earn certification in criminal investigation must complete a training program that includes instruction in investigative procedures and presenting cases in court.

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Essential Information

In order to become certified, students must prove their ability to analyze data during criminal investigations. Therefore, students in certification programs gain knowledge of how to identify types of evidence, use physical evidence, process a crime scene and identify the psychological attributes of some criminal profiles. The coursework also may include interviewing techniques, trials and case reporting. Specialization options include arson, burglary, child abuse, gangs and vehicle theft. Hands-on experience is required by some programs.

Certification programs are available through several private associations. Most programs require that students provide proof of experience in the field, and there may be age, residency and education requirements as well. Prospective students are also subjected to an extensive background check.


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Criminal Investigator Certification

The American College of Forensic Examiners International confers the Certified Criminal Investigator credential and the Robert Presley Institute of Criminal Investigation offers a credential to criminal investigators in 13 specialty areas, such as computer crime, burglary, homicide, identity theft and robbery. Additionally, the ASIS International offers the Professional Certified Investigator credential.

Certificate programs evaluate a candidate's knowledge in case management, investigative procedures and case presentation. To become certified, students may have to complete a series of courses or modules to gain training hours for certification, or they may have to complete a multiple-choice examination. However, the method depends on the certifying organization. Subject matter that may be tested or explored in certification programs include:

  • Evidence
  • Homicide
  • Trials
  • Interviews and interrogation techniques
  • Case reporting
  • Testimony

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that private detectives and investigators could 5% job growth from 2014-2024, which is about as fast as average (www.bls.gov). The projected job growth is expected to stem from increased security concerns, along with Internet criminal activity. The BLS revealed that private detectives and investigators earned a mean annual wage of $52,840 as of 2015.

Continuing Education and Licensing

Most states and the District of Columbia require that investigators obtain an appropriate license. Criminal investigators who carry firearms must also meet the regulations of their state and local authorities.

By completing a criminal investigator training program, students get the legal education and practical field experience that they need for the exams that they must pass to become certified investigators.

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