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How to Be a Private Investigator Without a License

It's not easy being a private investigator when you don't hold a license. A license is a symbol of professionalism that is easy for any member of the public to recognise. Without a license, you have to prove yourself in other ways.

As an unlicensed private investigator, you'll need to work hard to separate yourself from the negative reputation that surrounds investigators without a license. You'll have to be the best possible investigator you can be so your reputation precedes you.

How To Be Professional Without A License

For private investigators, a license is a symbol of professionalism. However, it is just a symbol and it's up to the private investigator themselves to live up to the expectation. Therefore, even as an unlicensed private investigator, you can still operate with the same level of professionalism as someone with a license.

Some of the things you can do so you can be seen to be a professional include:

  • Operating within the legal and ethical boundaries that have been set for licensed investigators
  • Charging customers fairly for any services offered
  • Not including hidden charges or clauses in any agreement between you and your clients
  • Doing whatever is within your means to offer clients the full value of their money
  • Handling sensitive information provided by clients with care
  • Practising good customer service and empathy etc.

When you do things like this, it's possible to build a good reputation for yourself and your agency within the community and this will result in plenty of recommendations and repeat customers.

Training To Be A Professional Investigator

One of the most important things you can have when you wish to practice as a private investigator but you can't get a license is the right set of skills. One of the issues that clients have had with unlicensed private investigators in the past is a lack of the skill necessary to carry out the job successfully. This can result in the investigation falling apart due to simple mistakes.

Therefore, you'll need to undergo proper training to get the skills that you need to be a competent investigator with or without your license. You should get your training at a reputable institution, preferably the same one you'd attend if you could get a license.

Qualifications For A Professional Investigator

Even if you can't get a private investigator license, you can still attain the qualifications you'd need if you were to get a license. At the moment, a private investigator requires an IQ Level 3 Award for professional investigators to be licensed. Having these qualifications will let your clients know that you have the required skills to solve the problem.

Attaining qualifications in other relevant fields can also be a major boost for your career and how clients view you. This can include qualifications in:

  • Legal studies
  • Paralegal studies
  • Management
  • Accounting etc.


Experience is one of the most important tools an unlicensed private investigator may have. A license tells people that you know what you need to do and you can do it well. However, if you don't have a license for one reason or another, having experience can help to offset this a little bit.

With experience, you can refer a prospective customer to past clients and they can let them know how good a job you did. To get this experience, some customers start by working as apprentices and learn the ropes from someone with much more experience. You can also start after finishing training. You can work as an intern or volunteer to solve some cases that are close to home. Once you have experience, you can set up your own practice.

If the opportunity to secure a license does present itself in the future, you should still take it. Combining your years of experience with a license can mean great things for your business.

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