How Do You Become a Private Investigator?

If you love doing research and spending long hours working on your own, you may want to look at how to become a private investigator in your state. Though some people imagine themselves following cheating spouses, taking photos at a distance and spending hours hunting bad guys, the job itself is sometimes a little more boring than you might think. To work as a PI, you need to understand the job duties and have a license.

Education Requirements

Before you can become a private investigator, you need to know about the education requirements in your state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some states require that a private investigator go to college and graduate with either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree but other states will let you work as a PI with just a high school diploma. Going to college is important for those who want to work in a specific or specialized field of investigation work. You’ll have the chance to take classes on cyber crimes, state and local laws, insurance and even federal law.

Learn About the Job Duties

You should always take the time to learn more about the job before planning your career. Working as a private investigator often requires that you spend long hours in the field. You might spend multiple nights in a row just sitting in your car and trying to gather evidence for your client. The job also requires strong organization skills because you may work with multiple clients and have several cases running at the same time. Private investigators must also have strong communications skills and good decision making skills. Depending on the types of jobs that you do, you may want to obtain a concealed carry permit too.

Decide How and Where You Want to Work

Deciding how and where you want to work is another important step associated with working as a PI. Though you might picture yourself opening your own agency and working with a wide range of clients, many investigators work with individual companies and government agencies. Law firms often hire investigators to do background checks on new employees and to work with its loss prevention department to cut down on internal theft. The government may hire a PI to research those filing for disability claims. You can do research and background checks, or you can work in surveillance.

Get Your PI License

To become a private investigator, you must have a license to operate as one in your state. Each state has its own rules and regulations for PIs, but you usually need to pass a background check that shows you have no felonies on your record. Some states may let you work as a PI with one or more felony convictions, but it often depends on the severity of your crime(s). If you want to open your own agency, you’ll also need a business license. As a business owner, you’re responsible for obtaining insurance and paying your taxes every year.

Related Resource: Become a Judge

Private investigators handle a number of duties, including performing background checks on new employees, finding evidence of a cheating spouse and even tracking down cyber criminals. You need a license in your state to become a private investigator, but you also need to decide on the type of work you want to do and the amount of schooling you need.