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How to Become a Private Investigator

Updated on September 17, 2015

How to Become a Private Investigator

Want to know how to become a private investigator? Private investigators, also known as PIs, generally work with small businesses, corporations and individuals to gather information. Most states requires that a private investigator prospect be at least 25 years of age, have the proper training, have at least three years of investigative experience and possess no felony charges on his or her record to become licensed. Licensing is required in most states and is important to secure the proper credentials incase he or she relocates to another state in the future. According to the United States Department of Labor, the job outlook of a private investigator will continue a steady growth as security tightens and litigation increases across the USA.

A private investigator career can earn an individual anywhere from 25 to 50 thousand per year--on average. 

How to Become a Private Investigator: A Day Spent with A Private Detective


1). Contact a few colleges nearby and inquire if any offer training to become a state police officer or city police officer. As stated before, to become licensed in most states for private investigations an individual must work in an investigative setting for a minimum of three years. Individuals who are currently working for a United States investigative service or are currently working as a sheriff for the past three years do not need to fulfill any additional training.

2). Complete the necessary training by following the college requirements to be able to work as a state or city police officer.

3). Apply to state and city police officer positions by following the advice from the college guidance counselors.

Learning how to become a private investigator is completed through proper educational training. Image courtesy of Mattox/
Learning how to become a private investigator is completed through proper educational training. Image courtesy of Mattox/

4). Work in your state or city officer field for three years before attempting to send in an application for a private investigator license. City police officers must be ranked higher than a patrolman for three years before they are eligible for a P.I. license in their home state.

5). Contact the Association of Licensed Investigators in your state to obtain an application to become licensed. Type in Association of Licensed Investigators” and your state name into your search engine to find the proper agency. Consider hiring an attorney to aid you through the licensing process. The licensing process involves filing a petition to your country court house that must be approved by a judge. If you cannot afford an attorney, contact your state Bar Association and ask for a referral for an attorney who may provide legal services for a low cost.

6). Read over the requirements for the application. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, require notarized written statements. Obtain any notarized written statements from reputable citizens in your area. The citizens may not be related to you by blood or marriage. Visit your local library to retrieve your state law book or contact a lawyer to comply with the proper procedure for obtaining the notarized written statements.

7). Fill out the application per the instructions. Enclose the fee that is due and submit in the five written statements to the Clerk of Courts division of your local county courthouse.

8). Wait for your scheduled hearing date that will be mailed to you and attend to find out if you are granted a private investigator license to practice in your state.


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