As with so many jobs, becoming a private investigator requires that one earns the appropriate license. And, like so many similar jobs, earning that license can require various things depending on the region.
In some areas, getting a license to become a private investigator is a simple process, one that requires only paying a fee and perhaps taking a short class. In other areas, licensure can require a test, or even attending certain courses at the local police academy!
Some regions don’t require any sort of licensure, like Alaska, where you can simply set out a shingle and begin working as a private investigator.
But, if you would like to get your private investigator license, what are the things you may be looking at?
Some states have ‘occupational testing’ in order to provide a baseline of qualification for the tasks a private investigator will face. This testing generally involves questions on knowledge pertaining to the particular state.
For example, the test for the state of Kentucky requires knowledge of state privacy laws, knowledge of laws concerning recording conversations, and even laws concerning when it is and isn’t legal to take videotape in a public place.
In general, occupational testing will be regional in nature. What this means is that if you plan to operate in another state, or more than one state, you could end up having to study for multiple tests, much like a lawyer hoping to practice law in multiple states might end up having to pass the bar exam in each state.
A good private investigator course, such as the one offered at Stratford Career Institute, will help you understand the basics of private investigation. However, due to the constantly-changing state licensure standards, you may have to do a bit more studying before spending the money on your examination.
Some states require that those attempting to become private investigators must meet some sort of minimum educational standards. This can mean that they may need an Associate’s degree or higher, but most often it simply means that a private investigator will need to have some sort of education at the local
Further, in many states, investigators who plan to carry a firearm will need to take courses at the police academy. These courses can cover everything from how to properly draw and fire a firearm (a skill that many people, even those with concealed carry permits, seem to lack) to the legal use of the firearm, and local legal standards concerning the concept of self-defense.
Not every private investigator is going to need a firearm, but those who do will want to take a course on legal use of that firearm in the course of their investigations, even if the state does not offer it. There is nothing that can end a career (and mire an individual in permanent debt) like a multi-million-dollar wrongful death or injury civil suit.
Much like becoming a police officer, one of the important steps to getting a private investigator’s license is a background check. After all, private investigators are basically private spies, who work on behalf of clients. It’s a tremendous responsibility, and with that kind of responsibility comes the need for a background check.
For those living in the United States and Canada, if you can legally purchase a firearm, you can generally pass the background check. It simply exists to ensure that those seeking a career as a private investigator are not criminals with long histories of violent crimes.
Seeking a Career
If you are interested in becoming a private investigator, the best place to begin that career path is to educate yourself. Take a few classes, learn a bit about what being a private investigator will entail, and make sure that you at least understand the basics of the job.
A class from somewhere like Stratford Career Institute will help achieve this and will also allow you to learn at your own pace, which is always a good thing for those with full schedules.
Interested in learning more about becoming a private investigator? Download our guide to Private Investigator Training below!