Once you have made the important decision to be trained as a “Private Investigator”, it will not be a purely academic undertaking, however, the “academic aspect” is highly desirable and strongly recommended, and, in certain jurisdictions, possibly required to a limited extent.
But the reality exists that the primary “training” will come by working for (and with) another “seasoned Investigator” in order to gain valuable knowledge by “doing and following”. One (1) of the results of this approach goes to realistically and practically showing you whether or not you in fact truly have the “knack” for investigative work.
At some point, and, most assuredly “early on”, you must further your “self-analysis” to realistically determine … “why do you want to become a Private Investigator ?” Different people decide to follow a career in “Private Investigation” for different reasons. Perhaps you have been entranced by what you have seen on television or in the movies.
Possibly you are departing a career in law enforcement and are “weighing all of your options”. Or, maybe you are simply seeking a complete career change and think that a career in the “Private Investigation industry” would be ideal for you.
Whatever your motivation, Private Investigation is a highly interesting career that requires a multiplicity of skills that most people never get the opportunity to realize or utilize. Although, the industry is not nearly as exciting and intriguing as television and the movies would suggest, it is in fact a career that fosters pride and a wealth of opportunities provided you are willing to “do what it takes” to reach that goal.
Additionally, you will have a higher opportunity of success if you are able to combine your desire to become a Private Investigator with some of your existing talents, your background and experience, and, an eventual decision to specialize.
Whatever the respective requirements of your particular State or Province, suffice it to say that it will take you on average two (2) to three (3) years of active “hands-on” apprenticeship before you are prepared to take the Licensing Exam (which is required in virtually every jurisdiction).
Make certain however, prior to “commencing your career”, that you thoroughly check with the appropriate Governmental Authorities in your respective jurisdiction in order to make absolutely certain as to their particular academic and/or apprenticeship requirements, et al.
As we previously touched upon (but requiring further clarification here because of its importance), many students inquire as to whether or not they should, from the very onset of their studies and training, focus heavily upon becoming a certain “type” of Private Investigator.
At the point you first enter the business, it is strongly advised that you do NOT attempt to ascertain or heavily focus upon any specific “type” or specialty-area of investigation, but instead take a “generalist” approach during your training and apprenticeship.
It will naturally occur, during that process, by mere “evolution”, that you will develop certain likes, dislikes, interests and self-knowledge of any special “talent” in order to lead you properly to your “best-case” career. It is advisable however to become fully aware of the possible areas of specialization, and, begin to establish those interests and “leanings” early on.
Always remember, in the “Private Investigation industry” or otherwise … once you find what it is you “like to do”, and, you find that you “do it well”, assuredly move in that direction … the clientele, reputation, credibility and economic rewards will follow in natural fashion because of your (collective) positive attitude, self-confidence, high principles and gained expertise.
Concurrently, as you proceed through your training and “apprenticeship”, you will learn how to investigate many different forms of assignments and cases, and, will be exposed to many, varied investigative techniques, technological equipment and “hands-on” skills utilized by today's professionals.
This process will inherently provide you the opportunity to ascertain your true “professional likes and dislikes”, as well as to objectively self-assess your strengths, weakness, talents and skills. Your training period then will be highly influential in your eventual decision as to what “field” or “specialty” you will follow … be it in a corporate environment, legal venue, within an insurance company, an investigative agency, or, independently.
While not a pre-requisite as a "mandatory condition" to becoming a Private Investigator, many who select the Private Investigation venue for a career will have a background in law enforcement, insurance, military or government investigation, or, even the intelligence community. Similarly, many Private Investigators are retired civilian or military police officers with specialized training in criminal and civil investigative techniques.
As such, some States / Provinces either require (or are initiating) training protocols that mandate specific education, a criminal background check and the successful completion of a written exam, et al. Again … check with YOUR respective jurisdiction at the onset of your efforts in order to avoid unnecessary “future issues” !
During the course of his / her duties, a Private Investigator may face confrontational circumstances and situations, so he / she must be both assertive and a quick thinker. Similarly, the duties of a Private Investigator will assuredly require interrogation and interviewing, thus good communication skills are necessary.
Other Investigators perform background or pre-employment checks, investigate computer crimes including piracy, e-mail harassment and identity theft, all of which requiring superior “detail-orientation” skills.
For the most part, it is safe to generalize that Private Investigators perform a disproportionate amount of work at irregular hours, such as early mornings, nights, weekends and holidays. However, specialized assignments involving computer searches and phone calls may be performed at an office during normal working hours. And, Investigators perform most of their work duties, especially surveillance and interviewing, alone.
Some Private Investigators are licensed to carry a firearm, although that is not necessary in most cases. In “real life”, most work performed by Private Investigators is no more glamorous or dangerous than a trip to the local Department of Motor Vehicles or Tax Assessor's Office.