How do I Become a Licensed Private Investigator?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A licensed private investigator is licensed in his jurisdiction to provide investigative services to individuals, companies, attorneys, and groups who need his services. If you want to become a licensed private investigator, you will typically have to check the laws in your jurisdiction before getting started. Each jurisdiction may have different guidelines for licensing, so this is a wise first step. Generally, however, you’ll need to obtain training in the field, complete a licensing application, pay a fee, and pass an exam.

A private investigator may be responsible for tracking the movements of a particular person.
A private investigator may be responsible for tracking the movements of a particular person.

Aspiring private investigators are not usually held to a particular educational standard. In fact, you may secure a job in this field without meeting any minimum level of education. If you plan to work for an employer, however, you may need to obtain, at minimum, a high school diploma or its equivalent. If you plan to be self-employed, you may not have to earn a diploma, but you may find education helpful in this career. Most private investigators not only finish high school, but also go on to earn associate’s degrees in preparation for this field.

Training is also important if you’re planning to pursue a career as a private investigator. Many people enroll in detective training schools and programs in order to prepare for this career. Some colleges and universities may even offer training programs for individuals interested in pursing this field. If you’re seeking licensing, you may find that the licensing authority in your jurisdiction requires you to obtain a minimum amount of related training and education before you can become a licensed private investigator. Additionally, if you will be permitted to carry a firearm in the course of performing your duties, you may be required to obtain firearms training and licensing as well.

Once you have met your jurisdiction's requirements for training and education, if any, you may then go to become a licensed private investigator. You will likely need to complete an application form and pay a fee as part of the licensing process. You may also have to submit to a background check to become a licensed private investigator. If you live in a jurisdiction in which training and education are required, you may also have to submit documentation that proves you have met the minimum requirements for licensing. Additionally, you may have to pass a test, depending on where you are seeking licensing, that may cover local, regional, and national regulations.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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