When a person undergoes a polygraph test, he answers questions given by a polygraph examiner to determine honesty or deception. As the answers are recorded, the polygraph machine measures the subject's physical responses through his bodily reactions. Most machines measure your respiratory rate, sweat production and blood pressure. At the end of the test, the polygraph examiner analyzes the spikes in the bodily reactions and makes the determination whether the subject lied or told the truth.
According to the jobs website Indeed, the average annual salary for a polygraph examiner is $59,000, but this varies by state. In California, the salary averages $64,000; Florida offers a salary of $56,000; and New York weighs in with an average salary of $72,000. In Kansas, you can earn an average of $55,000. Requirements can include up to five years experience, certification as a polygraph examiner, an undergraduate degree, and ability to pass a security clearance. The American Polygraph Association provides extensive information in the field of polygraph examination including a code of ethics and career opportunities.
Salaries of polygraph examiners working for the federal, state and local governments vary even further. At the federal level, for example, the Central Intelligence Agency pays its polygraph examiners between $53,350 and $115,742 annually. An example of a state salary is the salary range for examiners working for the state of Texas. They earn a median salary of $70,888. In Mesa, Arizona, city employees earn between $59,675.20 and $80,329.60.
According to established polygraph examiners, the cost of the examination can range between $450 and $900. Pre-employment tests garner a fee of $150 to $250. An examination takes between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 hours. Looking on the higher end, two $900 examinations can provide you a potential revenue of $1,800 for five hours of work. On the lower end, three $150 examinations could provide you a potential revenue of $450 for 10 1/2 hours of work. Start up costs will vary, but you can find the polygraph chair and equipment for just under $2,000. Check licensing laws in your state prior to opening your business. Also, consider taking a polygraph course. Many polygraph institutions offer training. Also, check with the American Polygraph Association for a list of accredited training facilities.
Questioning Other Opportunities
If you're interested in similar positions that uncover the truth, consider becoming a forensic science technician. Analyzing evidence comprises a major portion of the forensic science technician's duties, much like a polygraph examiner. As a forensic science technician, you can work with fingerprint detection, gather crime-scene evidence or work in a lab analyzing data and information. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salary range for this position in 2012 was between $32,200 and $85,210 with a median salary of $52,840.