How to Become a Private Investigator Where You Live

A private investigator (PI) is hired by attorneys, corporate entities and private citizens to conduct surveillance, gather evidence or investigate suspicious behavior. Most states require PIs to be licensed. Due to the constant changes in laws and regulations, check with your local government licensure agency on how to become a private investigator where you live.


  1. Image titled Become a Private Investigator Where You Live Step 1
    Understand the duties that are performed by a private investigator for a client. A private investigator's duties includes:
    • Contacting and interviewing potential witnesses.
    • Summarizing and evaluating findings from an investigation.
    • Assisting various enforcement agencies by presenting and preparing information.
    • Revealing facts regarding legal, financial or personal issues of businesses and individuals.
    • Investigating alleged violations of rules, laws and regulations.
    • Conducting history and background research, reviewing records and verifying information.
    • Serving subpoenas and making arrests.
    • Making court appearances and testifying on the evidence recovered.
  2. Image titled Become a Private Investigator Where You Live Step 2
    Meet the requirements to become a private investigator. There are no formal education requirements for PIs. However, the applicant must:
    • Be at least 18 years of age on or before the date the application is submitted.
    • Have Investigative experience that can be documented via training or employment.
    • Know the principles, procedures and techniques of an investigation.
    • Demonstrate skills in using a computer and various computer software applications.
    • Pass a criminal background check. Convicted felons cannot be issued a license.
    • Pass the mandatory written exam that covers state laws and regulations.
    • Present proof of valid liability insurance coverage.
    • Complete a handgun safety training class.
    • Show proof of U. S. citizenship or legal residency.
  3. Image titled Become a Private Investigator Where You Live Step 3
    Select from the various investigative specialties available to an investigator. Most investigators have an advanced degree before entering into a specialized field.
    • Corporate investigators usually have a bachelor's or associate degree in business and conduct internal and external business investigations.
    • A computer forensics investigator needs 15 to 21 credit hours in a computer forensic or computer science program. On-the-job training can be used in lieu of credit hours. He or she analyzes, recovers and interprets computer data that will be used as evidence.
    • Financial investigators have a certified public accountant (CPA) degree or experience in the accounting field. This type of investigator develops profiles of employees, business associates and competitors.
  4. Image titled Become a Private Investigator Where You Live Step 4
    Exhibit the personality traits employers prefer in a private investigator.
    • An employer looks for a personality that demonstrates assertiveness, confidence, good verbal communication and writing skills, the ability to handle confrontation, authoritative interrogation and interviewing skills.
  5. Image titled Become a Private Investigator Where You Live Step 5
    Seek employment as a private investigator. Private investigator jobs can be found in state and local government agencies, retail companies, legal services, employment services, banks and insurance companies.
  6. Image titled Become a Private Investigator Where You Live Step 6
    Review the annual wages of a PI. An investigator's annual salary ranges from $40,000 to $60,000. The salary depends on the specialization and expertise the client requires.


  • A private investigator will be required to work non traditional hours.


  • Keeping surveillance on a suspect may require working in an unsafe environment.

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Categories: Careers in Government