Polygraph Examiner Job Description | Salary, Skills, Qualification

The polygraph is one of the most used and efficient tools in the criminal justice sector in every country. Be a perfectly compulsive liar in order to lie your way through a polygraph exam test.

They commonly know the polygraph test as the “lie detector test.” Being a tool created with complex scientific principles, not just anyone can make use of the instrument in getting answers.

We know the highly trained professionals that are tasked with conducting polygraph tests as polygraph examiners. A polygraph examiner must be licensed and highly trained in the intricacies of the polygraph in order to dispensate his duties properly.

In questioning a suspect or convicted felon, a polygraph examiner cannot just strap the person to a chair, connect wires and start asking questions. A polygraph examiner usually holds a meeting with the chief attorney to determine which questions are to be asked to the person.

Having a specific direction of the outlined questioning route will help in understanding what to be asked and which questioning guidelines to follow in the process.

The skill of reading the lines created by the polygraph is extremely fascinating and must be developed by all polygraph examiners during training.

Are you interested in becoming a polygraph examiner? This article carefully highlights everything you need to know about polygraph examiners, including the salary outlook of the career path.

What is a Polygraph?

The polygraph was invented in 1921 by John Larson who was a medical student at Berkeley. Usually referred to as the science of the test, the polygraph is a term that means writing.

Polygraph is a branch of science dealing with forensic psychophysiology, it measures different psychological responses consecutively in order to detect signs of deception.

Basically, the science of forensic psychophysiology deals with the relationship of the mind and body to responding to emotions and thoughts.

They have adopted the polygraph for interviews and interrogations, especially when the truth is needed. Polygraphs operate on the sole fact that lies bring about stress, which can bring about physiological responses.

Despite centuries of adoption and wide modifications to the polygraph, it is still facing wide skepticism pertaining to results. Cases abound in which they have prohibited polygraph tests from being used in court or pre-employment screenings.

Despite the various criticisms, the polygraph has proven to be an indispensable tool for information gathering and criminal investigations both in the public and private sectors.

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Who is a Polygraph Examiner?

A polygraph examiner is someone who has gone through rigorous training on conducting flawless polygraph tests.

Polygraph examiners can also be called polygraphists. It is widely believed that the result of a polygraph test can only be as good as the polygraph examiner.

Conducting the exam is only one of the duties of the polygraph examiner as you’ll need to interpret the results from the cardiovascular, respiratory, and sweat gland instruments used during the test.

At the end of every questioning, a well-trained polygraph examiner should be able to clearly tell how truthful the examinee is.

Due to the high standards needed in polygraph tests the American Polygraph Association (APA) was founded in order to certify that every [polygraph examiner is qualified and worthy of holding the job title.

To excel as a polygraph examiner, you must possess top analytical skills and interpersonal communication skills.

These skills are necessary, as they task you with carefully reading individuals and finding hidden deceptive tendencies.

Being a polygraph examiner is a very exciting line of work as you get to uncover the truth for different cases, hence helping in resolving various issues.

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Duties and Responsibilities of a Polygraph Examiner

Being a very important aspect of the criminal justice system, polygraph examiners have a wide range of duties and responsibilities that are necessary for ensuring the resolving of cases. The career path requires candidates to perform duties like:

  • Working hand in hand with investigators on the case.
  • Prepping of subjects for questioning.
  • Conducting polygraph test.
  • Preparing a well-detailed report of events.
  • Providing court testimony when needed.
  • Meeting with attorneys to determine the line of questioning.
  • Following questioning guidelines.

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Qualifications for a Polygraph Examiner

  • High school diploma or general education diploma (GED)
  • Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Communication, Political Science, or any related field (OPTIONAL)
  • Proof of completion of a polygraph academy.
  • American Polygraph Association (APA) certification.
  • Knowledgeable in polygraph techniques.

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What is the Salary Outlook for A Polygraph Examiner?

The salary of a polygraph examiner varies with certain factors, like level of experience, area of expertise, education and certification, location of the organization, and other factors.

The location and type of organization the polygraph examiner is working for are the top factors determining the salary of a polygraph examiner.

According to the United States Department of Labor, the salary for polygraph examiners is estimated to

  • Median annual salary: $58,230
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: over $97,200
  • Bottom 10% Annual salary: $34,600

How to Become a Polygraph Examiner: Steps to Becoming a Polygraph Examiner

If you’re interested in becoming a polygraph examiner you might be confused about the steps and route to take toward achieving your dreams.

This section has clearly highlighted the steps for you to follow in order to make the process smooth. Use the following steps to become a polygraph examiner.

  • Attend an accredited polygraph training school.
  • Apply for internships, fieldwork, or Independent Study.
  • Get certified by the American polygraph association.
  • Pass your licensing exams
  • Complete your continuing polygraph examiner training.

What Skills and Requirements Do a Polygraph Examiner?

To perform your job perfectly as a polygraph examiner, there are certain skills needed which are key to succeeding.

The basic skills needed in every polygraph examiner include:

Analytical Skills

This is one of the most important skills required from every polygraph examiner. Polygraph examiners must be able to ascertain the result of an interview after the test.

To successfully arrive at the result of a polygraph test, the polygraph examiner must have fused core analytical skills into determining the decision to take.

Having analytical skills as a polygraph examiner means that you should be quick in noticing even the minute details as this could be key to a breakthrough in the case.

Analytical skills will help you correctly evaluate the deceptiveness of the individual taking the polygraph exam.

This skill is one of the main focuses of trainers in polygraph academies as they recognize the need for it in this line of work.

Math and Science Skill

Plain and simple, every polygraph examiner must have above-average math and science skills. The need for skills in mathematics and sciences is because the polygraph exam is an increasingly complex test and anyone cannot perform it just.

To decipher the information from a polygraph test, the polygraph examiner must be highly knowledgeable in math and science.

As they task polygraph examiners with performing interviews on high-profile cases in which the results from this test can help in convicting or releasing a suspect, the need for core science skills abounds.

The absence of math and science skill in polygraph examiners can bring about wrong results, as the examiner can misinterpret the result of the test, hence playing a part in releasing or convicting the wrong person in the criminal system.

Communication Skill

Basic interpersonal communication is a necessary skill in almost every pubic-related career option.

The duties and responsibilities of a polygraph examiner usually include testifying in court, writing reports, and working with law enforcement agencies from various sectors.

Having good communication skills helps you give a clear and concise outline of events of everything that occurred in the whole interview process, helps you work effectively with people from other sectors with no friction.

A polygraph examiner with excellent communication skills will ask questions solely directed at getting the required answers or responses.


Having key attention to detail will determine your success rate in every polygraph test. There’s absolutely no way an absent-minded polygraph examiner can effectively perform his duties correctly.

As a polygraph examiner willing to succeed in the field, you must cultivate adequate detail-oriented skills. Being detail-oriented will help you to be able to spot subtle changes and their meanings when conducting polygraph tests.

Polygraph examiners who have cultivated the strict training of being attentive to detail are the most successful, as they can detect even the tiniest of changes in examining polygraph tests.

Critical Thinking

All polygraph examiners are critical thinkers. Thinking critically helps you make the best judgment even in the most difficult situations.

From the facts, evidence, and observations made from the polygraph test, a polygraph examiner with good critical thinking skills should be able to carefully analyze the facts and arrive at a decision.

Having critical thinking skills usually entails having effective communication and problem-solving skills as well.

A polygraph examiner with critical thinking skills is completely self-disciplined and is on the path to excellence and success in the field.

Frequently Asked Questions

What skill do polygraph examiner need?

Every polygraph examiner is required to be very attentive to details.

Where do polygraph examiner work?

Polygraph examiners are mostly found in the criminal justice and law enforcement sectors.

Is polygraph examiner involved in criminal cases?

Yes, in most cases involving criminal cases, the polygraph examiner might be called on to testify.

Who are Biological technicians?

Biological technicians are also in a related field to Polygraph examiners.

Must a polygraph examiner be certified?

A polygraph examiner must possess the American polygraph association certification.


Polygraph examiners always try to be careful in all their analyses as they play a huge role, especially in the criminal or justice sector.

Also, polygraph examiners are usually employed in public law enforcement agencies, criminal investigative sectors, intelligence services, or private consulting and investigative firms.

Basically, polygraph examiners can work with federal criminal investigative agencies, hence the need for their highly specialized training in dispensing their duties and responsibilities.

This article has carefully reviewed everything you need to know about polygraph examiners in case you are thinking of a career in the industry.



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