How to Become a Private Investigator

When searching for information on how to become a private investigator, one must be aware of the private investigator license and the detailed regulations for how to get a private investigator license. We are here to help you on your path toward realizing your dreams toward becoming a private investigator.

Private Investigators conduct such tasks as gathering evidence in civil and criminal cases for insurance companies and lawyers; and also assisting suspecting spouses in investigating the potential shenanigans of their loves ones.

Private investigators must be focused, brave, resilient, and detail-oriented.

Learn How to Become a Private Investigator in Your State

The Private Investigator License

Private investigator license requirements will depend on the state in which you want to practice. Some states will hold requirements for eligibility that must be met to serve as an investigator. Other states, with different standards, will not necessarily require licensure that is special or unique.

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Paths to take when you are looking at how to become a private investigator

  • School program offering courses to prepare beginners for a career in private investigation and educate seasoned legal pros
  • Programs that offer a forty hour training course in PI that instructs on private investigation basics and prepares the student for the license exam
  • Course that teaches students the basics of legal investigation, preparing them for PI work and work within other fields of investigation, as well

So you’re thinking about becoming a private investigator.

First you will want to contact your state’s private investigator association to find out what requirements are needed in your state.

Second, it’s recommended you complete a 2 or 4 year degree in criminal law, criminal justice, or police science.

To obtain your license, most states require Private Investigators to be at least 18, no convictions of felonies, no mental disorders and never registered as a sex offender.

To find work, you might consider working for private agencies or applying for PI jobs at corporations, government agencies or law firms.

To advance your career, there are about fifteen professional certifications that you can earn to prove your qualifications in various sub-fields of investigation.

Things to remember for your private investigator license

  • A criminal record will disqualify you from pursuit of a PI career. Even if licensing is not required in your area, PI employers will often run a background check.
  • One area of investigation is in corporate arena. A background in accounting can serve well for this vocation.
  • One must have good decision-making ability and resourcefulness.
  • Technological skills are handy for this job.
  • One must be able to handle long hours and stressful, while sometimes potentially dangerous, work situations.
  • Excellent communication skills are a true asset.
  • Choose courses accredited by a national accrediting organization, or through professional investigator organizations.
  • Alternate qualifications for license can be achieved through areas such as claims adjustment work, debt collection, law enforcement, and military police backgrounds.

Salary Expectations

According to, a Private Detective or Investigator earns an average wage of $21.38 per hour.

Online Criminal Justice and Private Investigator Programs

Online Criminal Justice and Private Investigator Programs

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Choose your area of study and receive free information about programs you are interested in. Private investigators are used by law firms, law enforcement, insurance companies, as well as individuals to conduct investigations to build criminal and civil cases. A degree related to criminal justice could benefit an aspiring private investigator greatly. Request information from multiple schools to find the best program and educational opportunity for you!