You may have read enough stories of detectives or watched crime shows on television to want to become a private investigator yourself. It may sound enticing and adventurous. Being a private investigator requires some of these key traits that are a must – you must have an eye for detail, you must be passionate about conducting thorough research and above all, you must be patient, for investigating business can be a long one and yields results only after days of hard work. The question you may be juggling with at this stage is – how do you become a private investigator?


Whether you are looking for employment at an established private detective firm or are aspiring to set up your own business, the basic requirement in becoming a private investigator is that you must have the proper qualifications for it. Usually a degree in criminal justice from an accredited university or college is what is needed. You can also learn about the tricks of the trade by enrolling in courses online, either those offered by a university as a distance learning course or by studying professional lectures and videos. A background in humanitarian studies is commonly expected if you wish to join the private investigation business, as these give you the necessary theoretical skills required in conducting an effective investigation.

Work Experience

The practical skills acquired from previous work experience can also be important in determining employment, especially at a private firm. The industry criterion for such employment is prior work experience in the military, applied forensics or the surveillance industry. The more prior experience you have, the higher the positions that you will be able to apply for. You may also need to take on additional training on the field to amplify your skills, for example, in firearms training or surveillance training.

Professionalising Investigation Programme (PIP)

To enter this business you may need to take the Professionalising Investigation Programme (PIP) in UK. The aim of this programme is to ensure that professionals are properly trained and sensitized to conduct investigations of the highest quality. There are four levels to the PIP that include programs for priority and volume crime investigations, serious and complex investigations, major investigations and strategic management of highly complex investigations. These four levels cover the different types of offenses and crimes ranging from arson to blackmail to murder. Check out the different eligibility requirements you need to fulfill in your respective state or country, especially if you are looking for a license to start your own private detective agency. You may need to satisfy a different set of eligibility criteria depending upon local regulations.


Besides acquiring the necessary skills through formal education and training programmes, to become a successful private investigator, you must read the available industry publications frequently to keep yourself abreast of the contemporary events. Knowing what is happening in the industry and how investigations are proceeding in other areas, will help you hone your own investigative skills. Since private investigation requires constant research, industry publications will also prove as vital sources of information in similar cases that you investigate.