Polygraph examiner interviews and gains information from those who are trying to protect their deepest, darkest secrets.
strong>What do you do? I am a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). I currently work as the regional polygraph program manager overseeing the Bureau’s polygraph program in its 13 westernmost offices. Management of the program includes training new polygraph examiners and performing a quality-control review of every polygraph exam conducted by examiners in those offices.
How did you get that job? I’ve been a special agent for more than 25 years, the last 19 working as a polygraph examiner. Prior to working for the FBI, I worked as a police officer for eight years. The investigative experience (primarily, doing interviews) caused me to gravitate to the polygraph program. After 14 years of developing the unique skills involved with polygraph, I went into management.
How does someone else get a job like yours? Any FBI agent can apply to be a polygraph examiner. The FBI selects those who have a proven track record of doing interviews and gaining information from those who are trying to protect their deepest, darkest secrets. Those include a victim too embarrassed to discuss an incident, a witness who is covering for a friend, and a person who committed a crime. These skills can be learned through training, but are mostly learned through experience. Most new examiners have between five and 15 years of investigative interviewing experience before being accepted to the program.
What’s the best part of the job? FBI polygraph examiners support all of the Bureau’s operational programs. We get involved in most of the major cases — everything from violent crimes to espionage and terrorism cases. Getting information that helps resolve an issue — be it more information or a confession — is extremely rewarding. Successful examiners have a very high degree of job satisfaction.
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What did you do before this job? I’ve been in law enforcement since 1979. I began my career as a police officer in Wisconsin and joined the FBI in 1988. With the FBI, I’ve worked violent crimes and white-collar crime matters. Both programs required an extensive amount of interviewing.
What surprises people about your job? People might be surprised that FBI polygraph examiners travel all over the world. We will travel outside of the United States to both work our cases where needed and to help foreign law enforcement agencies that request our help. The FBI routinely helps our overseas partners with investigations when they don’t have certain investigative specialties at their disposal. The polygraph specialty has led me to work on almost every continent doing a variety of investigations.