Beginning a job as a private investigator can be problematic. Though the specifics of licensing and the amount of required training hours vary from state to state, there are two viable career options: a) working for a licensed agency or investigator or b) founding your own private investigation company. Regardless of your career path, it is essential you enroll in a licensing program that qualifies you for work in your state and gives you the best possible training.
Adequate training is usually difficult to come by, as there are few institutions that offer comprehensive real-life, legal, and classroom coursework. It is essential you enroll in an institute that private investigators respect. Of these only a handful of online or correspondence institutes qualify. A clear indicator of worth is whether or not active and well-respected investigators are offering the accreditation.
The trait most often associated with successful investigators is communication. The ability to interact with a wide cross-section of society, from the lowest to the highest, is indispensable. This makes winning the trust of clients, associates, and informants essential. Beyond a charming personal manner, a successful private investigator must be articulate and able to construct careful investigative reports. These reports are the summary of individual cases and, as such, must be well-constructed. Errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation reflect very poorly on the quality of both the investigator and the company.
Although licensing can be problematic , indeed some states have no licensing requirements, whereas some cities and municipalities require them, states that DO require a license will not allow private citizens to engage in such activities as surveillance, securing evidence, recovering stolen property, and determining responsibility for any crime, libel, loss, or accident. Indeed, marketing yourself as a private investigator will bind you to the tenants of proper business and ethical conduct. Even if a license is not necessaryin your state or city, you will be subject to the same scrutiny any business is subject to.
The licensing process can be lengthy and the criteria for qualification are stringent. A criminal record will, of course, ban any candidate, though some states may take the severity of the misdemeanor or felony into consideration. Moreover, a dishonorable discharge from the military will, more often than not, disqualify a candidate. A private detective, despite popular perception, is not a seedy character and can not afford to be perceived as one. Most states hold that an investigator is a person of trust and must adequately serve and protect the interests of not just his or her client, but of the public.