How to Become a Private Investigator

The 1980’s made popular the television character, Magnum P.I., a man who lived what seemed to be a glamorous, yet exciting life solving crimes and catching criminals. But for those seriously interested in becoming a private investigator, what does it really take?

Step 1: Research the Different Fields of Private Investigation

When first discovering how to become a private investigator, it is good to realize there are many specialties within the field. Learning to know what some of those specialties are and how personal interests and strengths match may be a good way to know what area of investigation to work in. Individuals may go into private practice or corporate practice with attorneys and insurance companies. With internet crimes on the rise, IT private investigation is becoming a demanding field.

Step 2: Make Sure of Physical Fitness and Health

The next step in learning to become a private investigator would be to know about personal health and ability. Computer forensics or accounting investigation won’t necessarily be physically strenuous, but mentally it will still be a stressful job. For persons that go for the more aggressive areas like bounty hunting or criminal tracking, physical strength and stamina will be a regular requirement on the job. Personal levels of health can help dictate what kind of area of private investigation is best.

Step 3: Find Out the Legal Requirements Needed to be a Private Investigator

Okay, armed with the knowledge of the expertise, and the assessment of personal abilities, now it is time to find out the legal requirements. Each state will have different laws regarding what is required to legally be allowed to do investigation work. Even computer forensics and investigation may require a personal license. has links to each state’s guidelines and can be a benefit to help simplify a requirement search.

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Step 4: Find a Way to Learn the Trade

The next step in learning how to become a private investigator is to actually learn the trade. Knowhow can be gained through a number of avenues. Some chose a traditional route of going to school and getting a degree in criminal justice, homeland security, or other relevant degrees. Another way is to become self-taught, or shadow with a company or someone in private practice to learn more about the field. There are a lot of books or even resources online for individuals looking to learn independently, like DTI (Detective Training Institute).

Step 5: Establish a Professional Presence

After the due diligence is done and training is sought, it is time to get to work. Private investigators have not always had the most stellar reputations. Not because P.I.’s are bad people, but often the work means poking into people’s private lives, and usually catching someone doing something they shouldn’t. The reality through is that private investigators offer a great service. So make sure all the licenses are in order,any investigation work is done with the utmost professionalism, and start networking and making connections within the local community.

Private investigators help people find lost friends and family, keep insurance costs lower by intercepting fraud, and overall, help people stay safe and on a law abiding path. Learning how to become a private investigator can be an exciting and profitable undertaking.

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