What Training is Required to be a Private Investigator

When you think of a career as a private investigator or private detective, your point of reference may be a 90s TV show or based on an action movie. Although private investigators make for exciting plot lines, it is a very real and in-demand career! As a private investigator, you may work online, perform surveillance, and gather information from different sources with a goal in mind.   

Maybe you have some natural PI skills that you have been practicing in your own personal life and thought you would like to do it professionally, or perhaps you’ve heard that it is a growing and promising career in the US. Either way, there are some things you should know about a career in private investigating before we get to training.   

There are certain skills you must have, which can be natural or developed. Firstly, you must have stubborn persistence and diligence to gather information. Secondly, you must exhibit strong attention to detail to identify clues that could otherwise be overlooked. Lastly, you must have patience. You will be spending a lot of time waiting when on surveillance or doing research to find the information you need. This requires a great deal of perseverance!

Although popular culture has made private investigator work look like it is all about catching unfaithful spouses and international criminals, there is more to it! You could be investigating consumer fraud or online dating profiles, gathering evidence to assist in a criminal investigation, investigating computer crimes, conducting background checks, locating missing people, going undercover, or assisting with child custody investigations. There is a unique set of skills you must have to take on these tasks.

A quarter of private investigators are self-employed, and the amount earned in a year can vary. The remaining 75% of private investigators work for private industries like insurance and security firms, financial institutions, retail locations, and identity protection services. Your earning potential will largely depend on your skill and success level (which is enhanced with a superior training program) as well as your credentials, which include education and license. The average private investigator in Florida earns $47,450 annually. This career has great earning potential, with the top 10% making about $100,000. With a training certificate and experience, you can charge higher rates and make more money. If you are considering pursuing this career, you are probably wondering – what training is required to be a private investigator?

Private Investigator Training

You do not require training to become a private investigator, but it will help you do your job more effectively and get hired. Think of it this way, if you were looking for a private investigator to do some serious detective work, would you rather hire someone with an education in private investigating and who holds a license, or someone with no training or license? The answer is obvious, and that’s how all your potential clients will feel.

In the state of Florida, in order to obtain a class “C” private investigator license, you need to have a minimum of two years’ experience in asset management, law enforcement, investigations, or criminal justice. This licensing will also help you attract clients. You can simultaneously learn new skills while working towards this Class “C” license by enrolling in a two- or four-year college degree in Criminal Justice or Private Investigation. This will qualify as one year of relevant experience. To earn a second year of experience, you can work as a class “CC” intern. The last piece to earning a “C” license is passing the state examination.

Associate Degree

An Associate of Science Degree in Private Investigation Services, like the one provided by City 

College in Fort Lauderdale, Florida can help you work towards your license while giving you the skills and strategies needed to be a successful detective. In two years, you will cover civil and criminal law, fraudulent claims investigation, surveillance technologies, civil interviews and interrogations, investigative reports, and background investigations. By finishing a program like this at a private investigation college, you can apply for entry-level positions in banks or retail stores, legal services firms, private detective and investigative agencies, employment services companies, state and local governments as well as insurance agencies. After working at one of these entry-level positions for a year, you can write the state examination and obtain your “C” license.

Class “C” Private Investigator Examination

Before you apply for licensure, you must pass the state administered private investigator examination. The exam takes 1 to 2 hours to complete and covers Florida law relative to the practices of private investigators. An Associate’s Degree is the best way you can prepare for the exam. When you register to take the exam, you will receive a copy of Chapter 493 and the Private Investigator Handbook. Once you meet the criteria to write the exam, you must schedule it in advance and pay the $100 exam fee.

There are other training programs out there, like those offered online or at private investigator training schools. Some of these programs will provide you with a class “CC” license. Although this is not required, it can help. For greater earning potential and more job opportunities, an Associate’s Degree in Private Investigation Services is the way to go.

Private investigators, sometimes referred to as private detectors, have an exciting and rewarding career – but it’s not for everyone! It takes a great deal of skill and special qualities to be a successful private investigator. The PI life is unpredictable with new cases and challenges, which is what makes it appealing to so many people. Want to be a professional PI? Enroll yourself in a training program like the one listed above, and you will soon be enjoying this rewarding career!  

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