Read as Mike “The Truth” Williams talks about his career as a Polygraph Examiner.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a Forensic Psychophysiological Detector of Deception also known as a Polygraph Examiner, commonly called a Lie Detector.
How would you describe what you do?
I give people, who are accused of wrong-doing, the opportunity to clear their names.
What does your work entail?
A Polygraph Exam consists of 4 parts: First is the Pre-examination interview. Second is the Practice Test. Third is the actual test. Fourth is the Post test interview.
What’s a typical work week like?
It depends on how many exams I have to give. The law states that a Polygraph Examiner cannot administer more than 3 polygraphs per day. That’s because each Polygraph take 3-4 hours to conduct.
How did you get started?
I was a Special Agent in the US Army’s Criminal Investigations Division (CID). It’s like the Army’s version of the FBI. After I got out of the Army, my best friend and I started a Private Detective Agency. We both went to Polygraph School and became certified.
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What do you like about what you do?
I get to help people clear their names and/or I get to put criminals behind bars. It’s a win-win situation for me. I either help a person or I help society.
What do you dislike?
People’s misconceptions about Polygraphs. They think it’s either some “magic box” or a “Jack-in-the-Box”. But here’s the biggest misconception…”…lie detectors are NOT admissible in court. Truth is, they are admissible in 38 states and in all states if both the prosecution and the defense agree to admit the results.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
As an Independent Polygraph Examiner, you only get paid when you work. It is based on the complexity of the subject. A domestic or work related exam is about $400 dollars. A criminal exam is about $600. My clients are Defense attorneys, business owners, divorce lawyers and law enforcement agencies looking for independent examiners.
How much money do you make?
About $75,000 a year.
How much money do you make starting out?
About $30,000 a year.
What education or skills are needed to do this?
To be certified you must attend a federally recognized Polygraph School. The course consists of over 400 hours of instruction including conducting 25 polygraph exams during training.
What is most challenging about what you do?
Multiple examinations during the same day. It takes a lot of mental and physical energy to “get inside the head ” of your subject.
What is most rewarding?
Helping someone clear their name after they have been accused of a crime or convicted in the court of public opinion.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Have a genuine interest in the truth. Don’t have any preconceived notions about people. Looks are deceiving. Demeanor is deceptive. Remember…God gave us two ears and only one mouth. Listen more than you talk.
How much time off do you get/take?
Since I’m an Independent Examiner, I take off whenever I need to. When I’m asked to conduct an examination in a resort area like Las Vegas or Los Angeles, I make a vacation of it.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
That I’m there to prove they are guilty. I tell people the only thing they need to do to pass the Polygraph is to: 1. Follow my instructions and 2. Tell the truth. They also think that their being nervous will show up as being deceptive. That’s why we give the practice test…to form a “baseline” of the three areas of monitoring, Heart rate (blood pressure), breathing (respiration) and sweating (electrodermal activity).
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
Educating the public about the science of Polygraphy.
What else would you like people to know about what you do?
The Polygraph Examiner is part of the criminal justice system. Our only interest is getting to the truth. We have no agenda. We don’t judge. We’re here to help you.