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Information on How to Become a Private Investigator

Do you enjoy watching popular TV shows such as CSI (Crime Scene Investigation), Forensic Files, or Law & Order? Have you ever wondered how to become a private investigator who does the same types of things done in the shows? If this type of career path sounds like the perfect fit for you and you plan on going to college, here are some college degrees

to consider: forensic science, criminal justice, criminology, law, or psychology. Also keep in mind that private investigators must have strong critical thinking skills, knowledge of applicable laws, and be willing to work long hours, many times during the middle of the night.

The purpose of private investigators is more often than not to investigate civil matters for private citizens. They may assist lawyers and public defenders in gathering evidence or providing case details in court. In addition to working for law offices, many banks and insurance companies will use private eyes to investigate money trails, housing forclosures, and even fraud. Private investigators are also known to spend much of their time surveilling individuals, searching for missing persons, performing background checks, and even going undercover to acquire additional information. If any of these tasks sounds intriguing for a potential career, here's a helpful guide to help you get started:

Private Investigator Requirements:

Private Eye Job Description:

Private Investigator Salary Information:

The salary range for a private investigator can vary substantially based upon a number of different factors, including years of experience, area of expertise, demand, success rate, location, PI agency, etc. The hourly rates for hiring a private investigator can range anywhere from $50 to $500, and depending on the agency for which you work, you may earn anywhere from 40- 50% of the hourly fees. For this reason, some P.I.s are self-employed and stand to earn higher wages, which are necessary to make up for a lack of benefits. The national average salary for a private eyes ranges from approximately $35,000 - $50,000 per year, but can easily reach six digits with the proper experience, training, and track record.

The different types of private investigators:

How to Obtain a Private Investigator License:

While each state has their own set of requirements and guidelines for obtaining a PI license, here are some general requirements that should help point you in the right direction:

Here is a list of requirements that will show you how to get a private investigator license in your state*:

*List of states that do no require a PI license to operate:

  1. Colorado
  2. Idaho
  3. Mississippi
  4. South Dakota
  5. Wyoming

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