How to Become a Private Investigator

How to Become a Private Investigator

One of the several career options in criminal justice includes a Private Investigator.   Having a career as a Private Investigator may offer a unique and challenging work environment, diversity of specializations, and the ability to work both as an employee of a larger firm or independently as a private contractor.  A Private Investigator generally collects evidence, interview people of interest, analyze data and solve problems.  It may be an exciting field to work in with the wide range of duties generally required to complete a case, and the urgency investigations typically demand.  Private Investigation is generally a growing career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Private Investigators average $42,870 per year, and will see a 21% increase in job outlook over the next ten years.*

While there generally are no formal educational or prerequisite requirements to begin an entry-level Private Investigator position, you may be required to obtain a special Private Investigator license to work independently or in a firm. These firms generally require some college experience, or previous experience with the military or the Police Department. Having an Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice may also help an applicant secure one of these entry-level jobs. Once you gain experience working as a licensed Private Investigator at a firm, you may become eligible to obtain your own license.  42 states currently require a Private Investigator license, but each state's requirements vary.** Once a Licensed Private Investigator has gained work experience, they may also become eligible to join professional organizations such as the National Association of Legal Investigators or ASIS International's Professional Certified Investigator program.***

The career as a Private Investigator is typically diverse, and there may be several options that one can choose to pursue.  In general, the job consists of collecting and securing evidence, analyzing facts, interviewing witnesses and suspects, and verifying information.  A Private Investigator may be called in to verify background checks, investigate insurance claims and disability fraud, trace missing persons, track down lost or stolen property and investigate the cause of fires, accidents or losses.  Depending on the work environment a Private Investigator works in, which may include law firms, insurance companies and private investigation agencies, they generally learn to specialize in one of these fields.  Someone that makes an exceptional Private Investigator is one that generally has excellent problem solving-skills, is a good communicator, is very organized, can work independently and can meet deadlines.  If you possess these qualifications, and you're looking for a fast-paced, diverse and growing industry, then Private Investigation might just be the Criminal Justice career you've been looking for.


Want to pursue a career as a Private Investigator? Get more information about programs in your area or online using our criminal justice degree finder at the top of this page. ↑


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