Polygraph examiners are employed in many types of organizations, and their surroundings and the type of people they work with are determined by the nature of the organization. Many examiners are involved in law enforcement and may work for criminal or civil courts, police or sheriff departments, the FBI, or the Secret Service. Some work for the armed forces, and many others work for private businesses, such as retail stores, drug firms, companies that have their own security forces, and firms that provide testing services for other business organizations. The American Polygraph Association has more than 2,800 members.
Schools specializing in lie-detection often provide placement assistance for their graduates. Contacts made during internships can also provide job opportunities. Professional groups or periodicals that specialize in law enforcement and criminal justice often list job leads. In addition, qualified polygraph examiners can apply to courts and crime laboratories. Federal agencies have stricter requirements: You may need to take a civil service examination or have several years of investigative service before training in polygraph techniques.
In some cases people who are already involved in investigative work, such as police and private investigators, criminologists, and particularly military intelligence staff members, add to their skills by earning polygraph examiner certificates.
Polygraph examiners in civil service positions can advance through various job levels and eventually hold management jobs. Examiners who work for private security agencies can advance to such executive positions as director of operations. Polygraph examiners who are employed by business and industry in security positions may become supervisors and eventually head their department. In addition, some experienced polygraph examiners start their own agencies or work as security consultants or security systems specialists.
Tips for Entry
Check the American Polygraph Association's (APA) Web site for jobs, https://www.polygraph.org/careers-and-employment-opportunities.
To see a list of APA-approved polygraph schools, visit https://www.polygraph.org/apa-accredited-polygraph-training-programs.
Read about the education and training requirements for polygraph examiners at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA): https://www.ciaagentedu.org/polygraph-examiner/.