Private investigators seem to have one of the most fashionable and interesting jobs ever depicted on the big or small screen. While the reality of being a private investigator may not be quite so glamorous and exciting as it looks in fictionalized accounts, it is still a profitable, and necessary, job.
Becoming a private investigator means that you will be able to likely earn a decent living. After all, private investigators, who do not necessarily have to have college degrees, make a decent wage and do so while carrying out an enjoyable job that does not keep them chained behind a desk.
So, if you decide that you have an interest in becoming a private investigator, how do you go about accomplishing that goal? Well, the process is fairly simple, although it may change depending on where you live and work.
Understand The Local Requirements
The first big task to becoming a private investigator is to understand the local requirements. Some cities, states, etc. require that you have certain education under your belt. Others require that you work under a licensed Private Investigator for a certain amount of time.
Understanding what you might need to enter the profession can vary, but is important. This can range from almost no requirements to requiring classes from the local police academy in order to do things like perform surveillance or legally carry a handgun.
Understand Local Laws
While you’re learning about local requirements, it behooves you to spend some time learning about the local laws and how they will impact your line of work. For example, what are regulations concerning video surveillance?
Understanding the local laws is also very important regarding evidence collection and understanding what evidence is admissible in court.
Decide What Kind of PI You Want To Be
When it comes to private investigation, you have choices:
- Do you want to work surveillance jobs, helping to catch unfaithful spouses, workers compensation hoaxers, or help to find missing persons?
- Are you interested in trial work, working with law firms to acquire information and present it to juries?
- Do you want to work to recover deleted emails and files on computers, hoping to find evidence that a suspect thought they deleted?
- Do you want to investigate accounting crimes, like embezzlement and fraud?
There are many ways to help your community as a private investigator. Figuring out the one best suited to your particular set of skills (which you may or may not honed over many years) is a good way to make sure your work is profitable.
This is not necessarily something you will have to do, but if there are gaps in your knowledge, training is a good idea.
If you’re hired by a private investigations firm, they will likely tell you what you need to learn. If you decide to start your own firm, you should spend as much time receiving training as you can.
Gaining a solid understanding of all the fundamentals involved in this line of work could give you the competitive edge when searching for work. It shows potential employers/clients that you have done your research and are knowledgeable in the field.
Get A License (Where Required)
In states that require a license to be a private investigator, it is in your best interest to earn one as soon as you can. You may be able to work as a PI for a company run by a licensed PI without having your own license, but if you want to be able to find other work, or to be able to run your own PI business, you will have to get your own license.
Understanding Both Legal and Ethical Considerations
Private investigators often walk a tightrope, having to do things that may be unethical to some, but that should not be illegal. If you become a private investigator, you are NOT above the law. Quite the opposite; the things you do may often receive extreme scrutiny.
You must seek to understand how to do your job, but do it without breaking laws. This means understanding laws as they now exist, but also keeping an eye on the laws as they change.
A life as a private detective can be interesting and profitable. However, it is important that you understand what the job will entail before setting off on a life as a PI.
There are courses online and at some local schools that will help better equip you to start such a career. There are also online courses, such as those as Stratford Career Institute offers, that can help you to prepare for the certification courses you will need.
It may not be the life of a Dick Tracy or the hardboiled detectives of old, but PI’s provide a very real and necessary service.
Interested in learning more about becoming a private investigator? Download our guide to Private Investigator Training below!
Private Investigator Courses
A course in Private Investigation can go a long way in helping you understand the field. Learn more today!