Applying to Get a Private Investigator License
So here you are, doing your own investigation and wondering. How to get a private investigator license certification in your state or province.
It's one of the most common questions up and coming investigators ask when looking for a private investigation job. It is also one of the biggest hurdles to becoming a private investigator.
There are many factors that will play a role in getting your private detective license. Not all agency jobs will require you to have a license; In many cases the process entails that you intern or work for a licensed agency for a set number of hours or years before you can even apply for your license. On the other hand, if you want to be self employed, most states and provinces do require certification via a private investigator examination.
Each state and province has their own set of guidelines to follow when applying. However, there are a handful of territories that don't require a formal private investigator certification at all. Take into consideration that laws are updated and change state by state; The only way to get real up to date licensing information is to contact your local government and do a search. Another way is to contact a local private investigator agency and ask them what you want to know.
What is a Private Detective License Exactly?
To sum it all up, it is a license to participate in the business of private investigations and or, to engage in any or all acts of surveillance, patrol or protection. As well, for gathering and handling evidence to be used before the courts.
As you can see, there is a very ethical reason why licensing is required. Not only does it ensure that there is a uniform procedure in place but, it also gives the gathered evidence an "authority" over the contrary.
General State Private Investigator Licensing Requirements
Again, keep in mind that the laws for each state may differ. It is always suggested that you contact your government body if you have any doubts on specific state private investigator licensing requirements for your area. Unfortunately in many cases, if you don't fall under the below list of investigator license requirements you may be unable to apply. If this is the case, contact a lawyer to see if there is anything that you can do to receive a pardon.
- You will need 3 sponsors or credible references that can vouch for you. This is usually a citizen that has known you for a set number of years. Blood or by marriage relatives are excluded.
- Certification from a Private Investigator School or Detective Training Course
- Pass the Private Investigator Examination
- You will have had to work a set number of hours or years (usually 3 years) doing qualified investigations work on a regular basis. Policing, law enforcement and all related investigator services qualify as acceptable investigation work.
- You do not have any felony convictions. If you are convicted of a felony while licensed, it will be revoked.
The Tasks in Which an Investigator License is Required
There are several acts that a private investigations officer will have to accomplish in order to do their job. Many of which are illegal for any regular citizen to do themselves.
In order for an individual to perform these special tasks within the boundaries of the law. They are required to obtain private investigator certification or licensing. This certifies that the person collecting the evidence is of good moral character and are ethically trained to perform their duties.
Now don't think that just because you get licensed that you have the same privileges as police officers. This is far from the case. In fact, an investigator must still follow most laws, as do regular citizens. So put aside your visions of Magnum PI and Colombo if you have any big ideas. This is a low key job and staying out of trouble is priority one.
Here is a general list of common tasks performed by investigators that require a valid license:
- Surveillance work including photo, video, audio, stalking
- Obtaining personal records that are not public domain
- Gathering evidence for use in court
- Provide an authoritative cause of certain types of injury, fire, accidents or damage to a person or property thereof
- Accessing different Public Records Databases
- Locating and Recovering stolen or lost properties
- Securing lost or unclaimed funds
- Accepting payment for performing any of the above services