Do private investigators need a license?
Everybody thinks they can be a private investigator, and they’re probably correct in that thinking. But there’s a big difference between nosing around on social media and being an actual private investigator. The reality of being a successful private investigator involves getting clients for your services.
It’s when you start to look for clients that a license matters. You can’t solicit clients for business in most states in the United States without having a private investigation license. According to this website, only the following states don’t require a private investigator to be officially licensed:
- South Dakota
Wyoming and Alaska have licensing requirements at the local level, not the state level. All of the state have local professional associations that have ethical bylaws and the monitor for rogue activity. These associations set forth the standards for private investigation in those states that do not require a license.
Regardless of whether there are specific state or local laws governing private investigation licensing, private investigators who operate in these states are always subject to the state and local laws governing all businesses.
What does it take to get a private investigator license?
All the other states that require licensing will generally have the following requirements:
- You must take a class which is usually 60-80 hours long
- You must pass a test at the end of that class
- You must pass a background check set by the state
- You usually have to be at least 21 years old
- You must have a high school diploma or equivalent
Then when you have completed all these you may start working as a private investigator. Some states, such as Georgia require you to be hired by a private investigation agency before you can work as a private investigator.
If you want to establish your own private investigation agency you will have to have worked a minimum number of hours for an agency to qualify for an agency license. Then the state will usually administer another exam for agency owners. When you have completed that exam you will be required to have an insurance policy in place and then you can start advertising as a private investigator. You may have to obtain a business license in some jurisdictions.
Private investigators come in all shapes and sizes. There are fantastic women owned private investigation businesses in the United States and there are a vast range of sizes for private investigation agencies. Some agencies are only 1 person, and some have several hundred investigators.