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How to Become a Private Investigator in Florida

Updated on April 25, 2012

Private Investigators, also known as private eyes, perform a variety of services for hire. They can provide surveillance, tracking, background checks, interview witnesses, search for clues and evidence, and a host of other investigative services for their clients. They may work for attorneys, banking institutions, insurance companies, and private citizens. The most successful Private Investigators are naturally inquisitive and curious, have excellent communication and report writing skills, have a professional demeanor, understand the law as it applies to their profession, and are savvy with technology. While a college degree is not required to enter the field, it can bolster your professional status within the industry.


Licensing

To become a Private Investigator in the state of Florida one must become licensed through the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Licensing, as per Florida Statutes, Chapter 493. The agency regulates the private investigations industry to ensure the public is adequately protected and served. According to the agency's website a Private Investigator is defined as an individual or agency who, for consideration, advertises as performing, or performs the following activities:

  • Subcontracting with the government to determine crimes or wrongs done or threatened against the United States
  • Determining the identity, habits, conduct, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions, reputation or character of any society, person, or group of persons
  • The credibility of witnesses or other persons
  • The whereabouts of missing persons, owners of abandoned or escheated property, or heirs to estates
  • The location or recovery of lost or stolen property
  • The causes or origin of fires, libels, slanders, losses, accidents, damage, or injuries to real or personal property
  • Securing evidence to be used before investigating committees or boards of award or arbitration or trial of civil or criminal cases.

In Florida there are two classes of licenses for Private Investigators: Class "CC" license and Class "C" license. Most newby investigators begin with the Class CC Private Investigator Intern license. There are multiple steps required for each license. I will explain each below.


Class "CC" Private Investigator Intern License:

  1. The first step before applying for the Class "CC" Private Investigator Intern license is you must complete a 40 hour course of professional training that covers general investigative techniques and Florida Statutes Chapter 493, offered by an approved school or college. You will receive a certificate of completion from the school to submit with your application.
  2. Next, because the state wants to ensure that only licensed private investigators are properly trained and qualified prior to performing solo, all Class "CC" applicants are required to be sponsored by a licensed private investigator (Class "C") or private investigations agency (Class "M" or "MA"). The sponsor cannot allow you to operate independently and must certify your progress on a bi-annual report to the Division of Licensing. They must also certify completion or termination of your internship. Finding a sponsor may be the trickiest part of the licensing process. Many private investigation agencies don't want to invest time and resources into training new Interns and only hire Class "C" investigators. And, the ones that will sponsor Interns are mostly unpaid or on a volunteer basis. But, don't be discouraged. With a little flexibility and networking you can find a suitable sponsor.
  3. Finally, submit your application for Class "CC" private Investigator Intern license along with the following items to:
  • Letter of Intent to Sponsor Private Investigator Intern,
  • Proof of successful completion of the required training course
  • A current colored passport sized photograph, and
  • Fingerprint card.
  • Required Fees: Currently fees include the Application Fee ($50), License Fee ($60), and Fingerprint Fee ($42) totaling $152


Class"C" Private Investigator License

  1. To qualify for the Class "C" Private Investigator License applicants must have two years of lawfully gained, verifiable, full-time experience. This experience may be obtained from a combination of verifiable private investigative work, a Class "CC" licensed internship, or up to 1 year of college coursework related to criminal justice, criminology, or law enforcement administration.
  2. Applicants must pass the Florida Class "C" Private Investigator Exam administered by the Division of Licensing. This exam covers Florida law dealing with the private investigative industry business practices and legal responsibilities. The exam fee is currently $100.


Average Salary of Private Investigators

Depending on location, company, experience and specialty, salaries of licensed Private Investigators in the state of Florida can vary greatly between $29,000 to $74,000, with a median salary of $56,000. According to simplyhired.com this is lower that the national average of $62,000. In Orlando, the average salary is $56,000, while Investigators in Miami earn an average of $61,000. The list below (simplyhired.com) depicts the variety in salaries by specialty.


Average Salary of Jobs with Related Titles

In USD as of Apr 25, 2012

investigator:  $47,000
criminal investigator: $57,000
supervisory criminal investigator: $81,000
auditor: $46,000
field examiner: $41,000
field investigator: $32,000

Links

You may download forms by visiting the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Licensing website at http://licgweb.doacs.state.fl.us/index.html

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