The job of a private investigator requires the individual to be equipped with a variety of skills to complete their assignments. For this reason, training for private investigators needs to be diverse enough to train candidates for a multitude of situations.
Private Investigator Training
One of the first goals that any aspiring private investigator should look to accomplish is in education. Although some states only require candidates to acquire a high school diploma, it is important that you look to achieve a college education to better your chances of licensing and employment.
Presently, there are 43 states in the U.S. that require those looking to become a private investigator to obtain a license, while three only required them at the local level. No matter what the state, most candidates will need to demonstrate some form of prior experience and education in order to become a private investigator.
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The ideal education for a private investigator candidate is an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in a field such as criminal justice, psychology or related field. These degrees will give you the best educational background for the career.
These degrees are worthwhile because they offer coursework such as:
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Criminal justice
- Crisis Management
There is a different route that is viable for obtaining an undergraduate certificate. Some schools offer certificate programs in private investigation, which can be very beneficial.
Certificate programs like this have coursework in the following areas:
- Research and personal history investigation
- Searching for people
- Fraud Investigations
State Testing for Private Investigators
In many states, the candidate will need to complete a state regulated examination that will test the applicant’s knowledge of state regulations, and other information relevant to the career responsibilities. Some of the areas that will be covered include:
- State Regulations
- National Regulations
- Operations in Court
- Observation, studying, and questioning
- Criminal Law
- Civil Regulations
- Forms of Investigation
These exams can be quite difficult for someone without the proper training and education. For this reason, candidates choose to complete state training courses to build up their education background prior to taking the examination.
In some states, applicants are required to complete a training course that is around 60 hours prior to taking the exam. Other states offer programs that are roughly 40 hours and run through state universities.
Some of the topics covered in these courses include:
- Virginia Code and State Regulations for Private Investigation
- State Regulations
- Improving Investigative Skills
- Investigative Forms
PI Firearms Training
In different states, they may require you to carry a firearm to perform your job. In these states, you will typically need to receive some form of certification from a state regulated training program.
Ongoing Instruction for Private Investigators
In a lot of states, you will be required to complete continuing education of some kind in order to renew your license. This education can be a great way to stay up-to-date with the state’s laws and regulations.
Specialized PI Career Training
The job of a private investigator can vary based on what type of specialization that you choose. Specializations are great because they allow the PI to narrow their focus in what could be an extremely broad field. Some of the fields PI’s can work in are:
- Cyber Security
- Criminal Investigations
- Loss Prevention (Retail)
As a PI, always be sure to keep your training and education up-to-date, as this will enhance your chances of future employment opportunities within the field.