You’ve probably seen a movie or TV show that involved a private investigator sneaking around, tailing a suspect or in the car down the street where the they are taking pictures of certain people as the enter or leave a building. The job description seems to be a pretty extensive list of cool private sector detective work. Unlike becoming a police officer or detective, the private sector private investigators are a slightly different breed of individuals. If you think you be good at background screening, GPS tracking, extramarital affair investigations, surveillance, missing persons investigations and more, then a career in private investigation is for you!

Each state has a different process for becoming a licensed and qualified private investigator, but below are the steps that need to be taken in order to get a job in the exciting industry!

Learn about the State You’re Going to Work In

Each state has a unique process and agency or agencies that oversee the regulation and licensing of private investigators that work in the state. Some states don’t require or have licensing but cities or jurisdictions within the state often have requirements. This is the first big step to take in the process of becoming a PI.

License Requirements

All state licensing requires that the candidates must be of a certain age (21-25) in order to obtain a PI license. Some other requirements include US citizenship, high school diploma or the equivalent, no prior felony convictions, and no dishonorable discharge from the U.S. military. If you meet these basic requirements, keep on reading.

Education and Experience

So you’re a US citizen and have a clean criminal record, now it’s time to check out the education and experience requirements, and yet again, each state is different when it comes to this step. While many states may not require a higher degree, many candidates wishing to enter the industry pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a related field to help distinguished themselves from the stiff competition and also gain a working knowledge of the criminal justice/law enforcement fields. Sometimes a lack of education can be substituted with job experience, but it all depends upon who is doing the hiring.

State License Exam

The states require licenses to work as a private investigator will require candidates to pass an exam that tests them on laws, procedures and any other pertinent information specific to the state they wish to work in. The exam may also include questions on operating a private investigation business.


If the state allows for private investigators to carry firearms, it’s almost safe to assume that companies that are looking to hire will require the candidates to possess the certifications to carry a firearm. Training can be done through any number of entities such as the FBI, National Rifle Association, SIG Sauer, Smith and Wesson, or through an accredited firearms instructor school.

State License

The last step once all the other steps are completed and up to standards, is applying for a private investigator license. Most states and regulating bodies that deal with private investigator licensing will require some or all of the following when applying for a license:

  • Notarized application
  • Full set of fingerprints for background check
  • Personal and professional references
  • Documentation on professional experience
  • Education documents
  • Proof of surety bond
  • Fees for applying

The job of a private investigator is fast paced, always changing and requires a determined individual to be successful. If this sounds like a career you would be interested in and can or are willing to meet the requirements and live in the Miami area, check out for more information about corporate job security and job opportunities.

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