Depending on where you live,
there are often state laws and local ordinances that
may impact how much work you have to go through in
order to become a private investigator. About a dozen
states require PIs to hold a state license,
but most states do not. In some states you may be
able to carry a gun, and in others you may have to
get a special license to carry. Check
here for a complete list.
Cities may require you to get
a business license or file an assumed
name certificate (which you should do, anyway,
to protect whatever name you choose for your business)..
Generally, no formal
education requirements exist for most private
investigator jobs, although most private detectives
have at least a high school diploma. A growing number
have college degrees, and many have even taken law
courses or formal courses in criminal investigations.
Few have advanced degrees or education, including
such specialities as Certified Fraud Examiner,
or Certified Document Examiner.
Work experience is probably the
most common qualification, however. Private detectives
and investigators tend to have prior experience in
other occupations. Many have experience working for
insurance or collection companies, others have experience
in the private security industry, while most tend
to be former police officers or federal agents. An
increasing number have experience working as paralegals.
To be a successful PI,
it generally helps to have a good background and working
knowledge of the law, both civil and criminal, bearing
in mind that many investigators enter the field after
working in reguar law enforcement, the military, government
auditing and investigative positions, or federal intelligence