Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Private Investigator

What steps do I need to take to become a private investigator?

This is a complex question that has several parts to it that mainly depends on the state you are planning to work in. There are two options for you: you can either work for yourself to obtain a PI company license or start working for a licensed private investigations agency.

The first thing that you should consider is licensing; however, there are just a few states where a state-issued license is required for being a private investigator. Every state has a different experience, education, and background requirements that might vary from exams, pre-licensing education or completing a state-approved training course, a certain number of years of work experience to having a large professional liability insurance policy that includes “errors and omissions” coverage.

Training is the second consideration. The most important investment that you can make for yourself is specific private investigation training. Given that a majority of new PIs are not prepared or are not able to get their own investigations company started, so most likely you will be trying to get a job with an established private investigations agency.

What kind of training should I look at?

Search for training programs or academies that private investigators have created. Who will know better about what aspiring or new private detectives need to know than an experienced investigator who has worked in the field for a long time?

What kind of individual makes a good and successful private investigator?

The business requires a very rare combination of creativity and logic; it is rare due to the fact that creative individuals have a tendency to not be logical and vice-versa.

I believe that any successful detective needs to be able to communicate. That means that the person will need to be able to connect with individuals who are from all different walks of life, no matter what their education, ethnicity, or economic status is.

My background includes a criminal conviction from a long time ago. Will that affect me being able to be a private eye?

Each state requiring a license for becoming a PI requires that a background investigation also is conducted as part of the overall licensing process. In most instances, I believe having a felony conviction is going to be an automatic disqualification, while a misdemeanor might be considering depending on what the crime is, how much time has passed since the person’s conviction, and its seriousness; and that will vary from one state to the next.

Is it possible to specialize in a specific kind or investigation or am I going to have to work on cheating spouses and surveillance investigations also?

I definitely recommend that investigators look for the niche they are interested in and specializing in just a couple of kinds of investigations!

What kind of special assignment or investigation pays the best?

I don’t know if there is a definitive answer to this question, but I would say that typically surveillance is the most profitable kind of assignment that private investigators can get due to involving billable and solid blocks of billable time.

Is doing private investigation work dangerous?

Some PI jobs are obviously more dangerous compared to others, such as bounty hunting and collateral repossession but in general private investigation isn’t dangerous work.