What Majors Do I Need To Become An Investigator?

There are many different kinds of investigators out there and each requires different training. Criminal investigators start out as law enforcement officers and eventually get specialized training to become an investigator (such as crime scene investigators made popular by the television show C.S.I.). Fire investigators which inspect fire scenes for signs of arson have to start out as fire fighters and work their way up to the position of investigator.

How to Become a Private Investigator

Another type of investigator, and one that has sort of a romanticized view, is that of a private investigator. P.I.’s have been popularized by Hollywood for decades. From Humphrey Bogart to Tom Selleck, private investigators have been depicted as suave guys who, after the bullets have stopped flying, always get the girl. But the reality couldn’t be farther from the truth. Being a private investigator involves long hours and tedious research. It may not be glamorous like in the movies but it is a well-paid career that is in demand. If you have ever had an inkling to become a private investigator and wondered “what majors or degrees do I need to become an investigator” then you may be surprised at what it takes.

What Does A Private Investigator Do?


Private investigators spend their time investigating all sorts of things from domestic problems such as cheating spouses to working with banks and creditors to find clients who have skipped out on their unpaid bills. They also work for lawyers to track down information to be used in court proceedings and they investigate cases of theft and fraud for private clients.

Private investigators can be hired for just about any kind of investigative work so long as it is not illegal. The investigator field is one of those rare types of jobs that, once you get established with a list of clients, can be financially secure in either a good economy or a bad one.

Useful Background Skills Or Degrees

Many private investigators have some sort of background skills that are useful to their jobs. The majority of them have law enforcement backgrounds or even time spent in the military. They are familiar with how law enforcement officers approach a case and how the law works to protect an individual’s rights.

Some private investigators have degrees in criminal justice, sociology, and/or political science. You actually do not need a degree in order to enter the investigative field. However, if you think of it as additional training that could benefit you, it could prove well worth the time spent to obtain them. The private investigative field is very competitive after all so having the additional knowledge could be very helpful.

Things You Need

As a private investigator, there are some tools that you will need that will make your job essentially easier. First and foremost, you need a cell phone and a pager. This is not so you can text your friends while waiting in your car. This is for business so you can call clients and they can call you. Another tool of the trade is a good camera with a telephoto lens. Doesn’t matter is it is film or digital but digital would be more practical. You can edit the photos or instantly print them out. A laptop or something like an iPhone that has wireless internet access is also handy to have. A lot of your work will take place outside the office and if you have one of these you can do online research anytime. Lastly, you need a reliable means of transportation. Taking the bus everywhere just will not do, especially if you are being paid to follow someone.

Education And Training

Other than some useful background skills, you don’t really need any formal education or training. However, there are plenty of investigator courses that are offered at numerous investigative schools. You can sign up and for a fee, take some classes that show you the proper procedures such as how to collect evidence, fingerprinting, the proper paperwork to fill out, and soon. There are even online courses that you can take.

You can also work with an experienced private investigator as an assistant. This is a great way to learn with hands-on training and you can earn a paycheck while you are doing it.

Skills You Will Need

People who go into the investigative field need to be good at doing research and have an ample amount of patience. You need to be good at puzzle solving and be well organized. An analytical mind that can connect seemingly random events and items and make a coherent string of events out of them is essential.

Aspiring private investigators need to learn how to do credit checks, criminal background checks, and use the computer to do extensive online searches. Most of an investigator’s work takes place in the office using the phone and the computer to do a lot of the leg work. If you cannot learn these fundamental skills, your career as a P.I. is going to be a short one.

Apply For Your License

To become a private investigator, check with your state officials to see if you need a license. Not all states require a license for practicing investigators. If they do, you will have to apply for one with the appropriate state department. This will involve a criminal background check on your part as well as paying any processing fees. If you are not sure where you check to see if a license is required, call your local police department or county sheriff’s office. You can also call your state law enforcement department or check them out online.

For more information about what majors you need to become an investiator, visit: