Opportunities as an investigator vary depending on your career goals and your preferences. Law enforcement investigators are usually promoted from the ranks just like uniformed officers. Both college degrees and performance on the job are considered when promotions are evaluated.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that investigators are increasingly specializing in computer forensics, legal investigations stemming from lawsuits and insurance claims investigations.
An investigator can work for corporations in both salaried and consultant positions. Based on client requirements, your work can be office-based or involve field work conducting interviews and surveillance. Each assignment has different working conditions. One can either be working in executive suites or doing surveillance work under unpleasant conditions. Investigation protocols and techniques can involve the use of computers and other technological aids.
An investigator can encounter uncooperative or hostile people and might need to work in unsafe locations. You need to be able to understand people and force them to provide information. You could also need to extract data from phones, computers, or video devices. Computer forensics is the science of extracting information from databases. You need to be comfortable with computers and search applications as well as databases.
The college degrees needed for finding work in this field vary a lot. Accounting and computer science degrees train you for computer forensics and background investigation work. Those working for law firms need some criminal justice or legal background. Investigator’s need either an associate's degree in a paralegal course or a bachelor's degree in computer science, communications, or criminal justice. An investigator needs a license in most states. Before opting for a particular degree, check out your state's license requirements. This will help you pick the right course.
Legally, fraud investigation aims at finding out whether an individual or group has gained advantage by misrepresenting facts. As fraud can cause chaos in our financial, legal, and social systems, fraud investigation is necessary to maintain social stability. It is all the more vital in the financial sector, where large gains can be engineered by misrepresenting facts in sectors such as banking and insurance.
Many institutions offer graduate and undergraduate courses in fraud investigation. Not all fraud investigators need special education. Those with training in business, law, economics, and policy with relevant work experience too have satisfying careers as fraud investigators.
Many people specialize in financial fraud investigation. Banks, insurance agencies, and pension funds have special departments to detect and eliminate fraud. All insurance agencies need to investigate every claim and decide on premiums. Premiums are fixed based on the financial capacity of the individual and other factors. Some misfortunes that lead to insurance claims are legitimate, for instance, losing property in an earthquake or fire. Some individuals claim inability to continue working and ask for medical insurance. The insurance firm needs to ensure that the claims are not fraudulent.
Yet another frequent choice is fraud investigation specializing in online transactions. Online scams occur when people obtain personal details and credit card information from individuals. Fraud investigators aim to identify illegitimate concerns and expose them to prevent exploitation of consumers. Fraud investigation also tries to eliminate false identities, especially in online spaces.
One can also specialize in fraud investigation in human resource management. Such people study employee documents to ascertain educational background and work history and ensure that employers hire the right people.