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Criminal Justice Articles

How to Become a Private Investigator

Being a private investigator is all about the image, persona, and cocky smarts, right?  Wrong.  If you are considering becoming an investigator based off of those television and movie criteria then you had better think twice.  Better yet, you should find out how to become a private investigator in real life.  There are several things that you need to consider and know to go through the process of becoming a private investigator.  Without this information you will end up not succeeding, wasting money, or being in a career that you really do not enjoy.

What you should consider:

The best things to consider before you seriously entertain going into private investigative work are:

  • Will the hours be acceptable?
  • What do you expect you’d be doing?
  • Can this be a full time income or is it a supplementary income?
  • What areas would you like to specialize in?

It is important to discover your answers to these questions because you need to be prepared for anything.  The hours you investigate are not always going to be typical daytime work hours.  You may need to do things late at night or during other off hours.  When you visualize being a private investigator do you see yourself in a Humphrey Bogart kind of way or Ace Ventura kind of way?  Private investigators need to be a little bit of everything.  Most private investigators cannot start out full time because they just don’t have the clients and it is not a salaried position most of the time.  If you have to work full time at another job you need to make sure that you get the flexibility in those hours to take care of cases when they arise.  There are also areas of specialty now for many investigators.  This helps them build a client base and reputation as the go to person in a specific field.  Having a specialty will help you turn a part time opportunity into a full time career.

The process of becoming a private investigator:

  • There are several steps that you will need to go through to become an official private investigator.  It’s those steps that take you from just being nosey to being the real deal – an investigator.  You may not need to attend a school to learn the necessary skills but you will have to read through a pretty long, intense book on procedures, ethics, etiquette, and other state specific items that are required.  After you are comfortable with that you need to take a fairly intensive test and pass with a certain percent.  Passing that test is what gives you the license.  The next step is hanging your license at a private investigation firm until you get the experience to possibly go out on your own. 
  • Every state does have different criteria for their private investigators.  Make sure you check out what your state’s criteria are and make a decision from there.  They will also be able to connect you with suggested resources for helping make the learning process much easier.  Just a hint, if you cannot properly investigate the information online to get going for your private investigation training you’d better pay extra close attention.  Yes, that was a bit cynical but it is true.  You need to be resourceful when you’re an investigator.

Private investigators are always in demand.  They can be hired out by businesses or private parties to help collect information that may be required.  Now that you know how to become a private investigator it is up to you to start taking the initiative to do it.

Schools OfferingPrivate Investigation Courses:

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  • Security & Investigation - Associate of Applied Science

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