Online Private Investigator Training Programs

Earn your accredited, affordable private investigation career diploma online with Penn Foster!

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If you enjoy a good thriller novel, mystery program, or true crime podcast and are ready to take all your knowledge on the road, then you may want to consider a career as a Private Investigator.

You can’t just start right off the streets, though, so finding the right training program is where you’ll need to start.

Online programs are great for people with limited time and who want to quickly get their dreams on the move.

With any of these seven Private Investigator Training Programs, you’ll be immersed in the world of investigation, crime, and mystery in no time.

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Best Online Private Investigator Training Programs

Ashworth College

1. Ashworth College

About the Program:

In just four short months, you can have your hands on the Private Investigator Diploma offered by Ashworth College.

Located in Georgia, students from far and wide can enjoy the benefits of this online program from the comfort of their homes.

Not only will you take part in courses taught by industry professionals, but you’ll also gain access to study guides, books, and academic support.

Courses Offered:

  • Techniques for Obtaining Information
  • Intro to Private Investigation
  • Private Investigation Orientation
  • Firearm Usage
  • Law, Forensic, and Retail Domestic Investigations

Contact Information:

  • Address: 5501 Peachtree Corners Circle Suite 200 Norcross, GA 30092
  • Phone: 800-957-5412
  • Website: Ashworth College

Program Cost:

The program in total costs $1,200 but some scholarships and savings can take that cost down to $799.

Penn Foster
Penn Foster

2. Penn Foster

About the Program:

Penn Foster has an incredible online Private Investigator program that will give you all the necessary fundamental knowledge to work in this field.

As a self-paced program, you won’t need to worry about being rushed or not understanding the information provided.

You’ll learn skills like surveillance, evidence collection, and how to speak with witnesses.

Courses Offered:

  • Homeland Security
  • Background Checks
  • Locating People
  • Court Related Issues
  • Legal Principles and Requirements

Contact Information:

  • Address: 925 Oak St. Scranton, PA 18515
  • Phone: 800-427-6200
  • Website: Penn Foster

Program Cost:

The program at Penn Foster costs $1,100 with monthly payment plans.

3. University of Washington

About the Program:

At the University of Washington, you can join the eight-month-long Private Investigator program provided by the Professional and Continuing Education Department.

Agencies, law firms, and businesses typically look for well-trained Private Investigators, and at the University of Washington, you can rest assured that this accredited program will get you hired in no time.

Provided in three quarters, the program at the University of Washington gives students insight into business, civil investigation, law, and criminal investigation all through an enriching online format.

Courses Offered:

  • Business of Private Investigation
  • Criminal Investigation and the Law
  • Exam Preparation
  • Civil Investigation and the Law

Contact Information:

Program Cost:

It will cost $3,867 to complete the University of Washington Private Investigator program.

4. National Investigative Training Academy

About the Program:

You’ll want to make sure that your state approves the National Investigative Training Academy before considering enrollment.

Those who live in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, and Minnesota can complete this forty-hour self-paced program and become certified quickly for pre-licensing.

There are 26 other states that the National Investigative Training Academy is accredited with, so make sure you check that out on the website before beginning the program.

Courses Offered:

  • PERC Licensing
  • Courtroom Preparation
  • Background Investigation Guidelines
  • Report Writing
  • How to Conduct a Successful Interview

Contact Information:

Program Cost:

Depending on which type of courses you take, you’ll pay between $99 and $450 per course.

Stratford Career Institute
Stratford Career Institute

5. Stratford Career Institute

About the Program:

At Stratford Career Institute, students gain knowledge through videos and coursework provided by Private Investigators to get a leg up on the competition.

You can learn from your own home and start at any time that is convenient for you.

This program will take about eighteen months to complete and has a well-rounded curriculum.

Courses Offered:

  • History of Law Enforcement
  • Accident Investigations
  • Background Investigations
  • Case Initiation
  • Large-Scale Investigations
  • The Law of Public and Private Investigations

Contact Information:

  • Address: 1 Champlain Commons Unit 3 P.O. Box 1560 Saint Albans, VT 05478
  • Phone: 800-254-4070
  • Website: Stratford Career Insitute

Program Cost:

The program costs $649 in total. Monthly payments of $35.50 are available.

Police Science Institute

6. Police Science Institute

About the Program:

Learn with some of the highest-level investigators at the Police Science Institute.

Every video and course has been created to give you the ultimate education to become a world-renowned Private Investigator.

This self-paced program can take anywhere from three to twelve months to complete depending on how motivated you are to start your career.

Courses Offered:

  • Insurance Fraud Investigation
  • Background Check Investigations
  • The History of Investigating
  • Law of Evidence
  • Missing Persons

Contact Information:

Program Cost:

The Police Science Institute program is a total of $955.

International Career Institute

7. International Career Institute

About the Program:

At the International Career Institute, you will be part of an online community that help you find your passion in Private Investigating.

Learn the tricks of the trade in this completely virtual certificate program that is accredited around the world.

In less than a year, you can be working as a Private Investigator while studying at your own pace.

Courses Offered:

  • Fraud Cases
  • Surveillance
  • Statement Taking and Reporting
  • Commercial Espionage

Contact Information:

Program Cost:

The program costs $1,439 when you pay upfront and $1,599 if you pay weekly for a 41-week program.

What Courses Are in an Online Private Investigator Program?

An Online Private Investigator Program should teach you the history of private investigating as well as how to complete background checks, laws, and ethics of the career, as well as the criminal justice system as a whole.

Can You Earn a Private Investigator Certification Completely Online?

Yes, it is possible to earn a certification to become a Private Investigator all from the comfort of your own home using your computer.

How Long Does it Take to Earn a Private Investigator Certification Online?

All programs are different, and many are self-paced, so those who are determined to finish can complete some programs in as little as three months while others may take as long as a year to finish.

How Much Does an Online Private Investigator Certification Cost?

Cost can vary when considering enrolling in an Online Private Investigator Program.

Courses can run as little as $99 and as much as over $3,000, depending on which school you choose.

Types of Private Investigator Certifications

  • Fraud
  • Forensic Science
  • Arson
  • Bounty Hunter
  • Civil
  • Corporate
  • Financial

4 Self-Study Tips for Private Investigator Online Students

1. Minimize Distractions

Don’t expect to get the most out of your education in a busy restaurant or club.

Instead, you’ll want to study in a library or at home where you can minimize the noise and distractions.

That means no cell phone, television, video games, or other people trying to get your attention while you need to be learning.

2. Brush up on the Law

To be a good Private Investigator, you need to know the laws in the state in which you’ll be working.

It will help to understand the laws and regulations so you don’t find yourself in deep water as you conduct investigations.

3. Take Photography Classes

It is surprising how much a good camera and photo experience is needed to do well as a Private Investigator.

Invest in a decent camera and learn how to work it so that you can take pictures for evidence if needed.

4. Organize Yourself

This works for both studying and taking notes in class.

You’ll need to be organized in your daily life and at your job so that you can find anything you need at a moment’s notice, or if you’re needed in court for evidence.


Online Private Investigator Programs are popular because people can learn on their own time and complete courses at their own pace.

Once you are ready to consider this career, don’t hesitate to give any of the above programs a try, they are all accredited and reputable in the world of private investigating.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need to have a license to be a Private Investigator?

Some states do require that you have a license to work as a Private Investigator.

Check with your local law enforcement to see the rules required before considering this role as a full-time career.

Can a Private Investigator carry a weapon?

In most cases, the answer is yes, as long as you have a concealed carry permit, you are welcome to hold a firearm on your body while conducting research as a Private Investigator.

Where can you work as a Private Investigator?

While there are plenty of opportunities to work as a freelance Private Investigator, you may also find employment with the government, certain businesses, law firms, and even banks.

What skills are necessary to work as a Private Investigator?

It is important to have good observation skills to work in this field.

Along with that, you’ll need to have attention to detail and organization skills to become successful as a Private Investigator.

Learning how to interview others and understand how the laws work will give you a boost in this career as well.

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Earn your accredited, affordable private investigation career diploma online with Penn Foster!

See more details >>Sponsored