Movies and Television shows have glorified the profession of the private investigator, and rightfully so. But what the programs fail to show is the hard work it takes to become a private investigator in the first place. Becoming a private eye requires a lot of time and effort as a number of state agencies oversee how private investigators are regulated and licensed. In Colorado, the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA)-Office of Private Investigator Licensure handles the licensing of private investigators.
While not all states require an investigator to procure a license, it is vital to adhere to all the rules and regulations appertaining to the field of private investigation in your state before setting up an agency. If you are interested in becoming a PI here are some important things to check off your list.
How to Become a Private Detective
Do You Meet the Minimum Requirements for Licensure?
Since private investigators are licensed and regulated at state level, minimum requirements may differ between states. Normally, candidates seeking to be private investigators must meet the following standard requirements.
• Be at least 25 years of age (In Colorado it’s 21)
• Be a citizen or lawfully present in the United States
• Have at least a high school diploma or GED certificate
• Have no felony convictions or other crimes appertaining to moral turpitude
• Must not have been dishonorably discharged from the U.S Military
Colorado’s licensure procedure differs slightly from what other state requirements are. For a list of Colorado’s licensure requirements, please see the Private Investigator rules and regulations.
Do You Meet The Education Requirement
Most states do not require one to have a four-year degree for them to qualify as private eyes. However, it is still highly recommended for people without related work experience to complete at least an associate’s degree in accounting, criminal forensics or law.
In Colorado for instance, where a degree is optional, a two-year degree conferred by a college or university eliminates 1000 hours of work experience from the 4000-hour requirement. Conversely, a bachelors and a master’s degree eliminates 2000 and 3000 hours respectively.
What is Your Experience?
In some states, Investigative experience is a requirement. Many states require a minimum of two years’ experience. Some of this experience can come from your previous careers such as military or law enforcement. If you do not have any prior investigative experience, some states may require that you work under another investigator’s license to gain the necessary experience before you get your own. Colorado does not require that an individual work under someone else’s license before investigating on your own.
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Pass the State Licensure Exam
Some states, such as Colorado, require that you pass the state jurisprudence exam for you to qualify as a private detective. These exams, which are normally completed during the application process, evaluate candidates on procedural protocols and laws specific to the state in which they will be practicing.
Once you receive your PI license, it is vital that you keep it current to legally practice. In Colorado, PI licenses must be renewed the 31st day of May every year. However, if your license is issued within four months of the forthcoming renewal date, you do not need to renew until the 31st day of May of the following year. We also recommend joining a professional association to make connections and elevate your career.
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