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Private Investigator: Online Diploma

Research online private investigation courses and programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

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Essential Information

Those looking to receive online private investigation training can find diploma programs in the field. Many of these programs can be completed entirely online in under a year, though specific office software may be required. Students explore surveillance methods, interrogation techniques, case management, criminalistics and crime scene protocol. Some schools may offer in-person networking events to meet those working in the field. Most online diploma programs don't necessarily provide licensure preparation for aspiring private investigators.

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Private Investigation Diploma

Those seeking to become private investigators or private detectives can earn a diploma online. Though they typically can be completed in less than a year, these programs cover a broad spectrum of private investigation topics. Some schools allow students to customize the curriculum to specialize in an area of interest, such as insurance fraud. Students learn interrogation methods, surveillance tactics and ways to collect evidence.

Program Information and Requirements

Online diploma programs in private investigation are generally self-paced. The majority of the online component exists for open-book testing and corresponding with instructors, while the remaining portion requires textbook studies. Some schools invite private investigation students to live events, where students have the opportunity to interact with career professionals. Depending on the program, a student also might have access to tutors or instructors via e-mail or toll-free numbers during scheduled hours.

Students need a current operating system with a high-speed or cable Internet connection. They also might need to buy or install Microsoft Office and the latest version of Adobe Flash.

Course Topics

Unlike degree programs, diploma programs don't require that students take general education classes. Below are some overviews of common courses.

Undercover Investigating

This class teaches students about the legal aspects of various types of undercover investigations. It also might cover tactical strategies, surveillance and ways to avoid simple mistakes in investigating.

Insurance Investigating

This class details types of insurance claims and the methods of investigation involved in each. Skills ranging from identifying fraud to testifying in courtrooms are discussed.

Technology and Criminal Investigating

Modern technology comes into play through this course, which teaches students the basics of fingerprinting, ballistics and related techniques. Students also learn about technology used in surveillance.


Career Information

Online diploma programs can prepare students for entry-level careers as private detectives. In the majority of the U.S., private investigators need to be licensed, but requirements vary widely among states. If an investigator chooses to carry a gun, he or she will need a permit.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that private detectives and investigators could see an 5% increase in job opportunities between 2014 and 2024 due to factors including increases in cybercrimes and crimes related to financial and insurance fraud. Another BLS report noted that private detectives and investigators earned an annual mean wage of $52,840 as of May 2015. The highest-paying states for this occupation were Nebraska and Alabama (www.bls.gov).

Online private investigation diploma programs cover a variety of topics related to the field, such as undercover surveillance, evidence collection and insurance investigation. Licensing requirements for private investigators vary, and online programs may not prepare students for licensing.

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