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Polygraph Examiner Job Description, Career as a Polygraph Examiner, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training State certification

Average Salary $67,000 per year

Job Outlook Good

Basic Job Description

Polygraph examiners are licensed and trained to conduct and give lie detector test to witnesses, suspects, and other individuals involved in criminal trials. The polygraph examiner will meet with the attorney’s to determine which questions need to be asked to each person. They will have an understanding of what types of questions are allowed to be asked and which are not within guidelines. Examiners will properly hook witnesses and suspects up to the equipment, ask them questions, and create a written report to deliver to judges and attorneys based on the results of the exam. They will understand what each movement in the polygraph exam means and be able to determine how likely the person is to be telling the truth.

Education and Training Requirements

There is no specific college degree for someone who plans to be a polygraph examiner. However, most polygraph examiner’s have a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, political science, or other related fields. Classes to take that help with skills include public speaking and interviewing, political science, or basic law classes. Many polygraph examiners work in court rooms, so an understanding of what information needs to be obtained and how various law procedures work is important.

Polygraph examiners must become certified through the American Polygraph Association after taking courses at an accredited school and taking a state administered examination. Classes will teach them proper interview techniques, how to operate polygraph machinery and basic law principles that apply to polygraph examinations. Students will often work with a certified polygraph examiner and perform tests on fellow students before becoming licensed.

Getting the Job

To get a job as a polygraph examiner, the candidate must be certified through the American Polygraph Association. They will have knowledge of polygraph techniques and know how to analyze and report polygraph results. They will be able to professionally interview or interrogate witnesses and suspects to effectively answer questions in a way that will cause them to give a realistic answer that can be easily read by the polygraph machine. Examiners should understand the basic principles of how a trial is run and know the legal limitations that come with their job.

There are several qualities a candidate should display if they intend to be a polygraph examiner. Most importantly, they will need excellent oral communication skills. They will understand the psychological stress that can come with taking a polygraph test and be able to determine the looks and gestures of someone who is nervous from someone who is legitimately lying. They will use this skill mixed with accurate test results to provide the court with as much feedback as possible.

Polygraph examiners also need to demonstrate excellent English and grammar skills, as many of the documents they create may be used as official court documentation and kept on file for trials.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Most polygraph examiners start off by working with local police offices to conduct tests on criminals. From there, they can advance to working with a court system and interviewing people involved in the cases. Most polygraph examiners work for local city governments for the first several years of their career.

Employment is not expected to increase or decrease for the field of polygraph examinations. Some states may be doing cut backs on government employees, so it will be more difficult to find a job in polygraph examinations.
Since most polygraph examiners start off working for a local government, there are plenty of career development opportunities through state and even national government. Some polygraph examiners can receive employment opportunities with the FBI, CIA or other top government agencies. Polygraph examination is a career that has many steps that allow for bigger and better career opportunities.

Working Conditions and Environment

Polygraph examiners typically work in an office located in a courtroom, police office or other establishment where they will be conducting polygraph examinations. When they are interviewing a witness or suspect and conducting an exam, it will often be done in a bare, well-lit room and alone with the person. Occasionally there will be a security guard present if the person being interviewed is a hard criminal such as a murderer.

Polygraph examiners will need to be comfortable working with criminals and questioning them. Many of the suspects a polygraph examiner will have to interview will be hard criminals such as murderers or rapists. They will need to be able to comfortably ask them detailed questions about the crime they have been accused of committing, and read the results out loud in a courtroom and, in most cases, in front of the criminal. Examiners will need to be unbiased and comfortable in objectively asking questions.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a polygraph examiner is about $67,000 per year. Examiners have the potential to significantly increase their salary if they work toward constantly advancing and moving up to work with higher levels of government. Someone who works with the FBI or CIA will make significantly more than someone working for a local city government.

Polygraph examiners often receive excellent benefits packages along with their salary. They are usually treated as a government employee and will receive full medical insurance, as well as vacation and sick leave. Since most examiners work for the government, they often receive all government holidays off work as well.

Where to Go for More Information

American Polygraph Association
PO Box 8037
Chattanooga, TN 37414
(800) APA-8037

National Polygraph Association
PO Box 2307
Emporia, KS 66801
(620) 344-3169

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw and Public Service