What Is A Professional Certified Investigator (PCI)

You may see PCI or “Professional Certified Investigator” after my name on occasion. I am writing to explain what this means and the value this brings to the client. This certification is more than being licensed in a particular state. The PCI standards exceed the standards set by the states and require passing an exam. If you are looking for an investigator, this may not mean much to you at face value. However, there can be significant value behind this certification.

What is it?

From the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS): “The Professional Certified Investigator (PCI) credential provides proof of knowledge and experience in case management, evidence collection, and preparation of reports and testimony to substantiate findings. Earning a PCI provides independent confirmation of specialized skills in security investigations, including case evaluation and review of options for case management strategies. Those who earn the PCI are ASIS board certified in investigations.”

So what? Let’s read more: Eligibility – “Three (3) to five (5) years of investigations experience depending on education level and two years of case management experienced earned in the public, private, or military sectors.”   This means when someone has this credential, they have been vetted and tested by a respected credentialing body. I mean no disrespect, but this credential is way more difficult to obtain than the private investigator license requirements in most states. Now, to work as a PI, one must be licensed by the state by law. But, one with the additional PCI credential is more likely to gather the evidence you need, on-time, and within the law.  

“Credentials are often treated as currency in that they can be used to gain favor among clients or prospective employers and can be built upon for exponential growth. For credentials to be taken at face value, the credentialing institutions from which they’re acquired must be a universally-trusted body. Employers must be able to trust that credentialing materials remain accurate and up to date, and use top-quality content. These institutions are trusted to set the standards of an industry and develop the necessary training to prepare individuals to enter or advance in the field of work they’re trained  in.” – Indeed

The Value

If you are looking to hire a private investigator, the first place you will probably search is Google. Here you will get slammed with page after page of ads (including mine) and webpages touting “I am the best investigator ever”. How do you sort through all of this? The next place you might look is for a referral from an attorney. The lawyers know which PIs are good and which ones specialize in certain areas.   So how does this relate to someone being certified? If you find an investigator that has the PCI designation, you will know they have experience in several areas. Lawyers love private investigators that are professional and that continue to study the craft of investigating. That’s what a PCI proves.   Still do your homework to ensure they are not lying. Never be afraid to make someone produce credentials to prove they are legitimate.

“Encouraging your employees to earn a professional certification will tell your clients that your company holds its staff to the highest professional standards and will take very good care of them. Your customers will feel safer and more secure knowing they’re in certified hands.”- Robert Half

Where Does My Experience Come From?

In order to even take the PCI exam I had to prove that I had the experience required. I did not take the traditional route in my investigative career. I have over two decades of experience in surveillance and counter surveillance from the US Marines (enlisted Force Recon), US Army (MP Officer), and the State Department (various roles). My experience did not come from the normal path of detective or federal investigator.   I did conduct strange surveillance operations in strange countries so you can be sure that I know what I am doing. Couple that with the extensive amount of study I conduct and feel confident that you will get the best results possible.  

“To external clients looking to hire security consultants for site assessments, private investigations, physical security improvements, or threat assessments and management, these designations may be a required and built-in part of any Request for Proposals (RFPs) they put out.”- Dr. Steve Albrecht

Bottom Line

When hiring a private investigator to work on problems for you or your firm, look deeper than the license and the website. Investigators holding professional certifications outside of the usual licensing requirements will provide more value for your family or firm.  Look at the credentialing body and ensure they are in fact the person on the certificate.  

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