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What Do I Need to Become a Private Investigator?

Are you thinking about becoming a private investigator? There are certain things that you'll need to become a good private investigator.

Although there is no set list of things that each and every private investigator will need to have, there are definitely certain things that can assist in professional investigations ranging from skills to qualifications.


What Skills Are Important When You Become A Private Investigator?

For starters, it's important to remember that there are different fields of private investigations. There are certain skills that will be vital in some types of investigations but not in others.

However, there are certain skills that will be necessary for any field of professional private investigation such as:

  • Analytical skills: Whether it's evidence, financial documents or records, any private investigation must have the ability to properly analyse the information before them.
  • Communication skills: This is important in communicating professionally with clients, colleagues, witnesses etc.
  • Time management skills: For information to be useful, it has to be available when it's needed
  • Observation skills: As an investigator, you'll need to be keen to spot the details that others may have missed whether it's in the records or out on the street.

These basic skills will be of use to anyone who wishes to become a private detective in any field. However, there are additional skills that can be helpful depending on the case and the field of private investigation in question e.g.:

  • Computer skills: There is a lot of information that is currently available online ranging from official files and records to what is available via social media.
  • Technical surveillance skills: A private detective may need to use spy cameras, a listening device or carry out bug detection as part of counter-surveillance measures.
  • Basic accounting skills: These can be important when going through financial records

Can Experience Assist You To Become A Private Investigator?

Many private investigators have joined the profession on the back of work they used to do initially. A background in certain professions can give you an edge if you wish to become a private detective.

Good examples of cases where experience can assist include:

  • Having previous experience in law enforcement: Working in law enforcement is an excellent experience for private investigative work as the procedures followed and skills required are the same.
  • Experience in the armed forces: Many of the skills used such as surveillance, interviewing of witnesses, situation assessment etc. are also trained in the military.
  • Apprenticeship: Working as an apprentice for a private investigator can also give you valuable experience in how the job is done.

What Do You Need To Qualify As A Professional Investigator?

The Security Industry Authority is the body that has the mandate of issuing licenses to private investigators. There are certain requirements for an individual to qualify for a license including:

  • Being over the age of 18
  • An IQ Level 3 Certificate
  • Proof that they're of sound mind
  • Application fees

A clean criminal record is preferable but not a requirement. Such factors are considered on a case-by-case basis.

To attain an IQ Level 3 Certificate, people with no experience will have to take a training course before sitting for the exam. Individuals with prior experience may only need to take an exam at an exam centre.