How to Become a Private Investigator

If you’re interested in developing your sleuthing skills and getting paid for it, you may be wondering how to become a private investigator. The work that they do is probably not what you would expect from watching movies and detective shows on television. In short, private investigators get paid to gather facts and information.

The difference between a private investigator and a police detective is that the latter is employed by private clients with businesses, as opposed to a government agency. The private investigator may help to solve a crime, but their work is not in the realm of law enforcement.

Private investigators may be self-employed or work for security firms and detective agencies. Some of them are employed by credit collection companies, financial institutions and other types of business.

Education and Training to Become a Private Investigator

A number of people working as private investigators have a background in a related field. They may have worked as police officers were served in the military. This experience can be helpful to someone thinking of becoming a private investigator, but anyone considering this field will need to go through some type of training period.

If you are thinking of becoming a private investigator, getting an Associate or Bachelor’s degree first is a good idea. Business courses would be helpful if you are considering working for yourself. You can also choose a major based on a particular area of interest, such as computer programming, computer science, information systems or criminal justice.

Private training schools offer courses for prospective private investigators. Before choosing one of these programs, it’s a good idea to investigate the school to find out how long it has been in business and whether it is accredited. You may be able to find a distance learning program that will allow you to study at home or from anywhere you can get Internet service on your own schedule. Examples of the topics which may be included in a training program are:

• Personality and Qualification to Become a Private Investigator
• Commercial Assignments
• Industrial Assignments
• Private Client Assignments
• Sources of Information
• Computer Security
• Process Serving
• Tracing Missing Persons
• Surveillance
• Accident Reports and Conducting Witness Interviews
• Repossession of Vehicles and other Items
• Criminal Investigations
• The Legal System
• Electronics and Visual Monitoring
• Audio Surveillance
• Forensic Investigation
• Polygraph Examinations
• Digital Electronic Evidence

Become a Licensed Private Investigator

Licensing requirements for private investigators vary, depending on the state. Some jurisdictions have no licensing procedure at all. In most parts of the U.S., prospective investigators must have at least a minimum level of education and a clean criminal record to be licensed.

When a license is issued, it authorizes the private investigator to work in that state only. Some states do have reciprocity agreements in place where they recognize licenses issued by the other. Private investigators should also apply for licensure in neighboring states as well, since their work may take them into other jurisdictions.

If you are wondering how to become a private investigator, the best answer is to find out about specific education, training and licensing requirements for your state.

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