A private investigator is someone who investigates and collects information for clients they can be individuals, law enforcement agencies business corporations, etc.
They are commonly known as a detective. Their jobs allow them to investigate for both civil and criminal cases.
This is a very important field you cannot make mistakes or misinterpret the information and unlike movies, it takes a lot of time and effort to become a private investigator, there is a lot of things to consider and know,
In this article, we have covered everything you need to know on how to become a Private Investigator.
A private investigator can work either full time at firms, part-time for certain projects, or open up a private investigation agency. before doing that you should definitely know about the world’s best private investigation agencies existing right now.
How You Can Become A Private Investigator – Step By Step Guide
The candidate needs to be 18 years or above, have a clean criminal record, should be able to meet training and educational requirements, clear the background check, and pass the licensing requirements.
To become a private investigator the only requirement in education is that you need to have a degree certificate, it doesn’t matter what course, but the graduation certificate is very important, only then can you pursue an investigation course in any university, agency or online, although some institutes accept a high school diploma as well so do your research beforehand,
Some states prefer that you have a bachelor’s degree in the field relating to private investigation like criminal justice, law enforcement, security management, computer forensic, etc, even if you are not required to it is still advised to get a degree certificate in these courses or courses relating to private investigations this gives you more knowledge and is a competitive advantage.
Other states just need a degree certificate irrespective of the course taken so make sure you research beforehand this way your not in any loss and it smoothens the process for you to become a private investigator.
3. Necessary Training
To be a private investigator you have to go through training, this is an integral requirement for this job, since this job is risky and you to be trained in order to be able to give your 100 percent and get the required skills to achieve success, for eg as a private investigator you are not allowed to carry guns unless you are trained and have the fireman permit, there is training for various criteria’s a few of them are:
- Training to use force laws and codes.
- Arrest procedures.
- Firearm training.
- Non-lethal weapon training.
- Pursuit and evasive training.
- Surveillance training.
- Legal training.
- Investigation training.
These are important even if you have a degree in related fields, a degree will not give you skill training, but these courses will.
Through training you can checklist two things, obtaining certain skills required to be a private investigator and the education/ experience required for state licensing.
Another reason why training is important is that some states will not allow you to apply for a license without prior training hours
4. State Licensing Exams
You need to file the state licensing form, this involves giving thumbprint, undergoing a background check, passport photos, and paying the application fee, once this application is approved then you can sit for the state licensing exams.
to become a private investigator in any state you need to pass the state licensing exams, the exam will vary as per states but it is related to the state law, federal law, court system, legal procedures, criminal law, civil law, report preparation, surveillance, insurance, liability and so much more.
You need to pass this to become a private investigator since the topics are vast and can take a lot of time to gather the information and study, there are state licensing training centers that you can enroll at to train for the exam.
In short, these are the 3 simple steps:
- Learn and know about the state licenses.
- Apply for the license.
- Pass the exam.
As a private investigator before investigating you need to have insurance policies, this is a policy by the licensing state agency, different states require different insurance policies for eg: some states require large policies that cover death, property damage.
Some of the insurance policies are:
- General liability
- Property coverage
- Auto liability
- Professional liability
- Privacy coverage etc
6. Work Experience
Having some work experience gives your clients more confidence to hire you, and it also helps you finish your current work faster since you know what to do and the way to solve the case. This is the part of putting your education into action. And also knowing how to use spy gadgets.
Having work experience allows you to aim for better more clients since they can read your portfolio and know what exactly it is that you are good at they can understand how you perform your duties.
this also gives you good recognition and allows you to grow in this field.
You can do internships while completing your degree
The last but most important step is to Maintain your license and be aware of the changes in the law related to your work field, license, and insurance.
Listed Below Are Some Of The Duties Of A Private Investigator
- Research: The first most important duty of a private investigator is research, without this the field has no meaning, research involves gathering information about someone, information such as criminal records, background, family history, location, where their working, staying information, etc all these records have to be legitimate and real.
- Interview: Getting the information cannot be simply done by browsing the net, the investigator will have to go and interview a lot of people who are related or know the candidate, this way they can gain authentic information and ask questions relating to the case.
- Surveillance: surveillance is an important duty of a private investigator it involves watching the subject without them knowing, seeing what they do, where they go, they work, the people they talk to, and reporting all this to the client or association.
- Gathering facts/collecting evidence: a private investigator also needs to find facts relating to the case, these facts help to win a case, collecting evidence proves that the client was right and is not in any fault.
- Verifying the facts: just gathering information is not enough they should also verify and ensure that the facts are true and legitimate.
- Following: Certain jobs even require a private investigator to follow a lead around and capture their activities this would mean taking out their pictures and following them wherever they go to find out any suspicious or criminal activity. This job will obviously mean that the private investigator has to be very discreet and should make sure that the lead is not aware of him being there or it could be reported as stalking.
Tools That A Private Investigator Needs
Just knowing how to become a Private Investigator is not enough you need some proper tools.
Computers, phones, cameras (still and digital), voice changer, a persuasive and creative mind, and the ability to do things without being noticed.
A private investigator can specialize in various kinds of investigation fields rather than sticking to a general one.
The Kinds Of Investigation Fields Are?
- Insurance fraud.
- Missing person.
- Social media.
And so much more.
Before becoming a private investigator make sure you have check listed the following:
- Can you be trusted?
- Are you insured?
- Do you have the licensed and bonded to practice?
- Have you experienced it?
- Did you sign a contract?
As a private investigator, you can either choose to work on various general cases or specific cases like a missing person, security, surveillance, legal investigations, insurance investigation, etc.
Each field has its own pays and if you prefer to be experienced in a specific field then you should choose the client with those requirements. Just make sure you know everything about what private investigators do.
Laws For A Private Investigator
The private investigator laws are things that a private investigator can and cannot do,
To do their job which is gathering information, they need to be resourceful and find ways to get the information and find evidence but for this, there are things that they are legally not allowed to do:
Impersonation: a private investigator cannot impersonate to be a law enforcement official, policeman, federal officers, or any person of authority whose decisions matter.
Wiretapping: they cannot tap and listen to phone conversations without one person on the line knowing is a federal crime.
Tampering mail: a private investigator cannot access anyone’s mail, and alter, delete or open it.
Trespassing: a private investigator cannot enter into someone’s property without them giving consent.
Check records and credit cards: without the person’s consent, a private investigator cannot check their credit card status or check closed records.
Arresting someone: a private investigator cannot make a lawful arrest like how a police can.
Problems a Private Investigator Faces
- Not enough research evidence.
- Poor decisions made by clients.
- Unable to provide critical information.
Skills Required To Be A Private Investigator
Having the knowledge and license is not enough to be a private investigator there are so many other things that you need like:
- Critical thinking: critical thinking is a very important skill that is required for a private investigator a person with critical thinking ability will know how to handle and get out of a situation.
- Planning: another important skill for a private investigator is having a good plan is very important to carry out all the activities that a private investigator needs to do on a day to day basis
- Physically fit: this job requires you to be physically fit and active.
- Decision making: the ability to make decisions both fast and with a lot of thought is very important this skill ensures that the private investigator makes good decisions Regarding various aspects of the field
- To have an eye for detail find information to gather evidence
- Maintain Confidentiality: this should be the top priority of any private investigator to maintain confidentiality, they should be discreet protect all the information and evidence they find and only share it with the client.
- Communication: for a private investigator communication is very important to gather information, they should use simple and understanding language and not sound authoritative and forceful.
A lot more than education is required when it comes to building a career as a private investigator, you need to have the skill required like confidence, creativity, and be trusted.
This is a risky field you can get jailed, be sued, or have your license taken, so before becoming a private investigator, get the proper education required, work according to the legal requirements.
this field also requires flexibility to be able to adjust and become whatever your research requires you to be, before agreeing to work for your client know what you are getting yourself into.
Insurance and training will help you succeed as a private investigator.