Education and training is always a good idea to help you with your career as a private investigator. The fact that most states require it to become (or renew) a license is a great incentive to get those training courses under your belt. Many agencies also prefer their investigators to keep current with education and training.
Classroom courses and training are usually the ideal—you get hands on experience with some of the material being covered (such as investigative tools) and face-to-face interaction with the instructor and classmates. But if you have a tight schedule or budget, or the only school offering classroom training is 200 miles away, online training is a good alternative. Online learning can work with your schedule, and can be pursued at your pace.
Some of the better known and more reputable online programs and schools are listed below.
The Detective Training Institute is based in California and offers its courses through online and printed correspondence. The coursework is 35 classes (“lessons”) that total 700 hours. Courses cover such subjects as background investigations, skip tracing, surveillance, legal investigations, and loss prevention. In addition to the classes, training includes field assignments, audio and video resources, and other resources. The school is registered with and approved by the California Bureau of State Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education.
Boston University (Boston, MA) offers a Professional Investigation Program. Its curriculum is comprehensive, covering all areas of investigation. It can be taken either online or in a traditional classroom setting. A certificate in professional investigation from Boston University is awarded on completion of the program, which totals over 100 hours. Coursework includes foundations of investigation, investigators and the law, interviewing, research, and surveillance.
Texas A & M International University is located in Laredo, Texas, and is part of the Texas A & M system. Their online program leads to a Certificate in Legal Investigation. Coursework includes arson, product liability, personal injury, accident forensics, financial investigations, malpractice/negligence, skip tracing, and preparing for court cases.
Fox Valley Technical College, in Appleton (WI) offers a Private Investigation Certificate. The program can be done either online or in a classroom setting, and lasts for one semester. Courses include criminal law, private investigations, asset protection, criminal investigation, report writing and English composition.
Ashworth Community College, in Norcross (GA) is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council. Their online program offers you a career diploma in Private Investigation. Coursework is broken down into 17 lessons, and includes the history and types of investigations, case management, report writing, surveillance, working with law enforcement, computer research, locating missing persons, interviewing, and loss prevention.
There are other schools and programs available as well. The programs include both online schools and traditional schools that offer both classroom and online options. Check out what is available, what works for your budget and time, and check out the reviews and services available for the schools. State and national professional associations often offer educational programs, classes and seminars as well. They can also offer recommendations for certificate, diploma and degree programs.