What Are the Requirements to Be a Private Investigator?
Lawyers, insurance agents, and anyone who needs to uncover hard to find information, rely on private investigators to gather and verify facts. During the course of a day, often starting in the dead of the night and ending way past sundown, a private investigator can be called to provide routine surveillance, investigate a person or situation, conduct extensive research and even interview or interrogate someone. The job can vary drastically from one job to the next or even from one month to another, but there are a few basic requirements to being a private investigator.
Being detail oriented and quick witted are essential character traits for private investigators. New developments and clues can be uncovered at every turn, and need to be noticed and taken into account. In order to stay on top of rapidly changing situations, private investigators need to be able to think on their feet and to adapt quickly.
Private investigators are often tasked to solve a mystery or look into a shady situation. To be successful at a job like that it's good to have solid problem solving skills and a love for puzzles. You have to have the ability to take any number of seemingly unrelated elements and piece them together to give you the answer to your original question. It's not a skill that comes naturally to everyone or a challenge that everyone enjoys.
However, sometimes loving what you do isn't enough to make you successful. Having a law enforcement, government investigation, or insurance background might not be a necessity, but it can give private investigators an edge over the competition. Knowing how to conduct investigations and interviews are valuable skills that are often called upon. Likewise, having a license to carry a weapon is not necessary, but it can come in handy at times.
In most states, an assertive nature and quick mind with a knack for solving problems are no longer the sole requirements to being a private investigator. More and more states are requiring that private investigators be licensed before they start working. Each state has a different list of licensing requirements, but most include a minimum age limit, proof of education or certification, some investigation experience, a criminal background check, and a state exam. The person asking for a license must also meet all the requirements for holding a firearm permit.
Beyond being licensed and having the correct personality type and mental acuity, private investigators also need to be good communicators. Even though the nature of their job means that they often spend much of their time working alone, they also need to be able to interview people, work closely with clients, and even sometimes have to go under cover as part of the investigation.
It takes a special person to be a private investigator. The work is often lonely and hard. There are no set hours and jobs can take you anywhere. Nowadays private investigators need to be tech-savvy in order to undertake computer searches for information. Most importantly, never knowing when the next job will present itself of what it will entail means that they need to be flexible and available.