A private investigator is hired by clients who need to gather information that can’t be obtained through traditional means. These individuals are not members of law enforcement.

If you’re interested in working as a private investigator, there are various ways that you can start. Some investigators will choose a particular area of expertise, while others will offer multiple types of services. For instance, some of the most common types of investigations that private investigators perform are background checks and civil investigations. 

Before you start working as an investigator, you must have a good understanding of the different types of investigations that are available to you. This article aims to provide an overview of the requirements you may need to meet to become licensed.

1. Examine Your State Requirements

In each state, there are varying requirements that private investigators need to meet to be licensed. For instance, in some states, a person may only be required to work a certain number of hours to be licensed. However, in other states, licensing authorities may allow individuals to work as independent contractors without a license if they take classes designed to provide them with the necessary education.

2. Education

Most employers require that individuals seeking to work as private investigators must have a high school diploma or an equivalent. Some jurisdictions also require that applicants have a degree in criminal justice or another related field. This type of education can give individuals a wider range of job opportunities.

People interested in becoming private investigators can also take classes designed to provide them with the necessary education. These classes may additionally cover various aspects of the job, such as the legal procedures involved in conducting investigations.

3. Physical Training

In most states, private investigators can carry a gun for self-defense. They are also required to complete firearms training to carry out their duties. This may include learning to use various weapons such as tasers, chemical sprays, and batons.

4. Meeting Requirements

Besides having the necessary education and experience, other requirements such as licensing requirements for private investigators are also typically required in different areas. For instance, those who wish to be a private investigator must meet these requirements in Texas.

  • Be 18 years old or older.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident.
  • No history of a felony-level offense.
  • Not registered in any state as a sex offender.
  • Not have been dishonorably discharged from U.S. armed services.
  • Not have been found by a court to be incompetent by reasons of mental defect or disease.

5. Pass an Exam

In most states, private investigators must pass a licensing exam to cover various topics such as criminal laws and the procedures involved in conducting investigations. The exam will be conducted in different locations, and the licensing body responsible for issuing the license will determine what questions to ask.

6. Successful Background Check

To be a licensed private investigator, you must complete a background check and submit your fingerprints to a federal criminal database. You can also require a surety bond to carry out your duties. A surety bond is a contract that guarantees that you will fulfill the obligations of your license. If you fail to perform your duties, the state may claim the money from the bond company.

7. License Renewal and Maintenance

Depending on the state or local laws, you should usually be able to renew your private investigator license once every three years. In addition to completing a background check, you must also take continuing education courses to keep up with the latest legislation.