How to Become a Private Investigator

Because there are no formal qualifications for becoming a private investigator, it’s tough to put a finger on what exactly it is you need to get the job done. Private investigators work for a number of agencies and sometimes themselves to gather information about a particular person or business. They put in long hours and are what could be considered freelance detectives. Their evidence gathering abilities must be top notch if they wish to succeed.

Instead of having a “How to” guide like we normally have here on Loosen, our guide on becoming a private investigator will be more of a tips list that you can follow to pursue your dreams of becoming a private eye.

  • If you have no detective skills, it’s time to get some. Try and enroll in a local detective school at a community college or at an independent study facility to hone your skills. Detective schools teach all of the basics of gathering information and evidence as well as how to properly document everything you find. Good detective skills are necessary for presenting your evidence to clients and courtrooms. You may find it tough to begin with to learn how to gather evidence, but in a few years it will be second nature.

  • Prior police experience is usually recommended for people looking to become private investigators. Police work not only gives you the experience you need with dealing with crime scenes, but also helps prepare you for some of the things you might deal with. There are many different situations that you will come across as a private investigator that you need to be able to deal with and if you’re squeamish or have no experience in the crime realm, some of the situations may be a little surprising. Police experience helps prepare you for these situations and gives you the knowledge you need to think critically and quickly.
  • Private investigators rely heavily on software in their job to run background checks on people. Familiarize yourself with the many different types of private investigation software on the market to help you get ready for the real thing. Credit check software and background check software are an integral part of the private investigation world and they’ll help you uncover all types of information about the people in question. One of the most popular pieces of software that’s used in the field is called Lexis-Nexis.

  • The only formal requirement for becoming a private investigator is licensing. While you don’t need a degree in private investigation, you may need a license to practice as a private eye in your state. Your local police office will be able to help you get certified. They’ll be able to tell you which offices you need to go through and what the minimum requirements are. There are no tests to get your license, but in many states you must complete ethics exams and background checks.
  • Working alone can get tedious for some private investigators. Many private eyes elect to work for a private investigation firm so that they can collaborate on cases. All of the information you collect on a case is confidential, but if you work in a firm you can collaborate on projects and pass information along to other qualified investigators. Working in a group is much easier than working alone.

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