Become a Polygraph Examiner: Education and Career Roadmap
Learn how to become a polygraph examiner. Research the education requirements, training, licensure information and experience you will need to start a career in this field.
Polygraph Examiner Requirements
A polygraph examiner, or polygraphist, uses a variety of instruments to measure respiratory, sweat gland and cardiovascular responses to questions posed during an oral examination. He or she then interprets the results of the examination to render an opinion as to the truthfulness of the examinee's responses. Polygraph tests are used by attorneys, probation and parole departments and law enforcement agencies as well as by companies and individuals in the private sector.
Requirements for becoming a polygraph examiner vary depending on the state in which one wishes to work, because some states require licensure. Some Federal government agencies, like the CIA, for example, don't require special polygraph training or state licensure because they provide training and Federal certification. Other employers prefer that applicants have completed a polygraph examiner course and/or a bachelor's degree.
Polygraph examiners often have experience in law enforcement or investigations, but a background in psychology or behavioral science is also beneficial. Polygraphists work in the public and private sector, and many are employed by local, state and Federal government agencies.
The following table outlines the general requirements to become a polygraph examiner:
|Degree Level||Successful completion of an accredited polygraph training program; bachelor's degree may be required by some employers***or for state licensure****|
|Degree Fields||Applicable bachelor's degrees include criminal justice, psychology**, social science and behavioral science****|
|Licensure and/or Certification||Some states require licensure. Some employers may require certification in certain specialties that can be obtained through professional organizations***|
|Experience||Law enforcement, psychology, investigations**|
|Key Skills||Excellent oral and written communication skills, excellent analytical skills, ability to work in a potentially confrontational environment***|
|Computer Skills||Basic computer skills, word processing***|
|Technical Skills||Proficiency in polygraph equipment and software***|
|Additional Requirements||Jobs often require background checks, fingerprinting or security clearance; applicant must be of good character and have high ethical standards and no criminal history***; some states require the examiner be at least 21 years old to become licensed****|
Sources: *American Polygraph Association (APA), **various polygraph schools, ***Careerbuilder.com and government job postings, June-July, 2012, ****various state licensing agencies
Step 1: Take a Polygraph Examiner Course
The American Polygraph Association accredits polygraph training programs. Most accredited training programs take up to 18 months to complete, including an internship, field experience or independent study requirement. Some schools may require applicants to have an associate or bachelor's degree in a related field or to have related work experience.
The academic portion of the program usually lasts 8-10 weeks and typically requires full-time weekday attendance. Programs cover test question formulation, ethics and legal issues related to polygraph examinations. Students learn appropriate interview techniques and how to use polygraph technology and equipment to monitor cardiovascular, galvanic skin and breathing responses from examinees. They also learn how to accurately interpret exam results.
Step 2: Complete Fieldwork or Independent Study Requirement
After successfully completing the polygraph examiner course, candidates have 1-2 years to complete an internship or fieldwork requirement. Within that time, an intern must complete a certain number of polygraph examinations under the supervision of a working polygraph examiner, and she or he may be required to maintain files on these cases for examination by her or his school. In some instances, a research paper can be submitted to fulfill the internship requirement. Each school determines how many exams must be conducted to complete the program, but the number is often between 10 and 25.
Step 3: Take Voluntary Certification Exams
Graduates of approved polygraph schools may apply for membership in the American Polygraph Association (APA). Working polygraph examiners may apply for professional certification through participating state or regional polygraph examiners' associations, such as the Ohio Association of Polygraph Examiners and the Northwest Polygraph Examiners Association. Membership in these professional organizations often requires the applicant to have completed a minimum of 200 polygraph examinations and meet ethical requirements.
Specialized exams for those focusing on a particular aspect of polygraph examination are also available. Individuals can, for example, become Certified Forensic Law Enforcement Polygraph Examiners or specialize in post-conviction sex offender testing and domestic violence perpetrator testing. Police examiners can join the American Association of Police Polygraphists (AAPP). The American Polygraph Association also offers a Certificate of Advanced and Specialized Training. Specialized testing may require additional training.
Step 4: Pass a State Licensing Examination
States that require licensing may require polygraph examiner trainees to possess a valid trainee license and complete a certain number of polygraph examinations or fulfill internship requirements prior to sitting for the licensure exam. State licensure exams often include multiple-choice questions and a polygraph examination simulation. Some states also require an oral interview with an advisory council or board. Many state licensing agencies require that the applicant be fingerprinted and submit to background checks.
Step 5: Participate in Continuing Education and Training
Polygraph examiners must stay up-to-date with current practices and changes in the profession. In some states, renewal of a polygraph examiner license may be contingent upon continued training, which may be required as frequently as every year. Professional associations may also require that their members take continuing education courses in order to maintain professional certification and good standing in the organization.
Related to Become a Polygraph Examiner: Education and Career Roadmap
- Recently Updated
Individuals interested in becoming medical examiners must first pursue a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of...
Title Examiners are legal support professionals who perform tasks related to the examination of property titles, such...
Workers' comp claim examiners communicate with claimants, employers and other relevant parties while investigating...
Handling medical insurance payments requires a good understanding of both the healthcare and insurance industries, as...
- Be a Chief Medical Examiner: Career Advancement Guide
- Become a Crime Scene Examiner: Step-by-Step Career Guide
- How to Become a Health Claims Examiner: Step-by-Step Career Guide
- Best School for a Business Administration Degree - Kansas City, MO
- Top Ranked International Business and Global Economics Degree Programs - Colorado Springs, CO
- Top Ranked Graphic Design and Multimedia School - Arlington, VA
- Top University for a Degree in Public Administration - Henderson, NV