Private investigation work is more technologically savvy than ever before.

As a result of increased national attention to the protection of assets, people and information, there are online schools that offer certificates in private investigation for those in need of a flexible schedule. Private investigation is a rapidly growing career. Whether you have previously worked in a particular area of law enforcement, seek an exciting and rewarding new career or simply want to perform services for those in need of investigation, online certification is available.

Certification and License Requirements

At entry level, prospective students must have a GED and/or previous work experience in the criminal justice field. Online private investigator certification requires completion of general education courses and includes taking such other classes as locating missing persons, interviewing techniques and surveillance. While there are many online college programs that offer degrees in criminal justice, there are only a select few that offer actual online PI certification.

Certification vs. Certificate

According to board certification provider ASIS International, major differences between a certificate and certification exist.The latter indicates mastery, has an educational and experience component included, and requires re-certification that ensures continuing education and title designation such as Certified Protection Professional. Many states and municipalities require either a license, certification or both. While an associate degree will get you in the door, a bachelor's degree will proffer selection of field specialization.

Online Schools

Ashworth college's PI certificate can be achieved within six months. Boston university's PI certificate is offered in March and September. Fox Valley Technical College's 17 credit PI certificate registration is offered in August and January. City College, Nashville State Community College, Penn Foster Career School and Stratford Career Institute all offer online certificates that qualify graduates for employment as private and detective investigator, secret services and loss prevention specialist.

Profession Outlook

Due to growth of computer crimes, identity theft and national security issues, the employment rate of private and criminal investigators is projected at a 21 percent increase in years 2010-2020, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most opportunities will be for licensed individuals with an associate degree that secures detective work, while a bachelor's degree recipient in computer forensics or crime scene investigation can pursue specialization.