Requirements for License Pursuing Private Investigators
Private investigators, an investigator or investigation agent, is someone who may be employed by people, organizations or NGOs to undertake investigative surveillance activities. Private investigators can work for lawyers in criminal and civil cases. They can also be employed by the government as confidential agents or secret agents. Private investigators have many advantages over the government’s hired agents such as:
They do not require any formal training to start their career. Anyone with a basic knowledge of computers, telecommunications, investigation, crime scene clean-up, and written English is enough to become a private investigator. However, there are still formal education programs offered through colleges and universities to train aspiring private detectives. One needs to have a law enforcement or detective license to work as an investigator in any of the US states such as Idaho, Kentucky, Texas, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California. A current law enforcement license is compulsory in the majority of US states.
Private investigators have to take and pass a rigorous examination known as the Certified Intelligence Interview (CIS) Examination, which tests an investigator’s written and oral communications ability. The exam is conducted by the National Institute of Justice, and is a requirement for all working private investigators in the US. The exam has three sections which cover intelligence collection, listening in on conversations, and writing reports based on those intelligence gathered. After passing the exam, an investigator need not be licensed to work. However, there are states that require investigators to be licensed and registered with a detective agency to engage in investigation activities.
Private investigators must register with the local police department to obtain a concealed weapons permit. Permits are required for all law enforcement officers, including private investigators. Private investigators must complete two additional tests: one to acquire a federal firearms license and another to get a state license. Private investigators can apply for concealed weapons permits online at the Texas Bureau of Security and Investigative Services website. Private investigators must also complete a fingerprinting process in the county where they live or else they will not be granted a concealed weapons license.
Most private investigators have background checks, which are done by the police. But this does not mean that all private investigators are trustworthy. In the United States, the private investigators do not have to submit fingerprints to the FBI for a background check or for a criminal record search. Only a judge would have the power to make a decision on whether an applicant was trustworthy enough for surveillance and/or investigations.
Some private investigators specialize in particular areas. For instance, one might become an expert in white-collar crime and gather information from witnesses, victims, suspects etc. Some private investigators specialize in financial crimes, such as embezzlement. Some specialize in child abuse and investigate child abuse cases. Others might be specialized in corporate crimes, such as securities fraud and employee theft.
There are many professional associations in the United States that provide training for private investigators. One such association is the Association of Independent Private Investigators (AIPI). The AIPI provides certification and continuing education for its members. AIPI also conducts seminars and hands-on training for its members. You may contact your local AIPI office to inquire about continuing education seminars. Every state has its own laws and regulations about private investigation.
In order to become licensed private investigators in any state, an applicant must get a minimum of 200 hours of training and experience. Applicants must then pass an examination which consists of both written and oral exams. The applicant must also complete a background check, which usually consists of a polygraph test. Private investigators must pass a proficiency exam before they can become licensed. However, there are some states which allow private investigators to have a temporary license while their application is under review. This allows the private investigators to continue their investigation without being required to get their licenses.