Road to Becoming a Private Investigator: Education, Licensing, and Practice

a group of detectives investigating a crime

Private detectives are people who perform various investigative duties. Also known as private investigators (PI), they help in solving crimes, obtaining confidential information, and finding missing individuals. PIs are usually employed in private investigation companies and work closely with government agencies. Other detectives work as self-employed professionals, offering their service to private clients.

How do you become a detective? Here is a brief guide for you.

IP Education

Most states do not require aspiring investigators to take formal education. In some cases, however, a criminal justice degree gives you a better advantage over those are don’t hold the same or equivalent degree. Others venture into this career path only after finishing college. If you have experience in law enforcement, you may also find an easy way towards becoming an investigator. It is estimated that around 45% of private detectives are former police officers.

There are a couple of ways to take a private investigation course. One is by attending a university or academy program. When considering this path, make sure you are enrolled in an accredited program. This option involves attending classes in normal classroom setting. Another option is through online courses. Many accredited companies offer flexible and customizable courses on the Internet. Lessons are delivered online in the form of videos, text, and even live lecture. Other courses are also offered in DVD form.

IP License and Practice

Almost all jurisdictions require private investigators to secure a license to practice. In many cases, you will need to finish courses of training on the job before you can get your professional license. The training is designed to allow aspirants to immerse themselves in the duty as the actual job takes place. Here, you will be trained by senior detectives with ample experience in the field. You will learn the necessary skills to perform basic detective duties.

You may also have to select an area to specialize in such as civil investigations and background checks. While it is not necessary to select an area of expertise, this option is open for you should you want to focus more on a specific aspect of the job.

Learn more about your education options and licensing processes by speaking with a licensed course provider. It also pays to get in touch with your state’s licensing authority to ensure you’re enrolling in the right program.