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PI License
For Most PI Work, You Do Not Need a State License
Situations Where You DO NOT Need a State License

Wherever you work, you will need to be properly trained in a variety of investigative assignments to work effectively as a Private Investigator, and you will probably want to get a license sometime during your private investigator career, but for now you do not need a license for the following:
  • To work in a detective agency in your local area: As soon as you complete your DTI course (only 3-6 months on average) you can immediately start working in a detective agency, under the owner's license, and begin earning between $20-$40 per hour while accumulating the mandatory hours towards your state’s experience requirement at the same time. You will conduct the same interesting assignments that a licensed private investigator does, including surveillances, background checks, undercover assignments, insurance fraud, and testifying in court -- all under the direct supervision of the owner/licensed private investigator. In fact, many investigators prefer to work for an agency rather than starting their own which is a perfectly acceptable career goal
  • To work as a private investigator in a private organization: You may work as an insurance investigator, corporate or retail investigator, or as a legal investigator in a law firm under the supervision of an attorney
  • To engage in similar fields of private investigation: You do not need a license to do process serving, online research, installation of hidden videos, and other related activities. You will learn about these in your course. These businesses will allow you to perform many of the same functions as a licensed investigator, including conducting surveillance, serving legal papers, tracking missing persons for process service, installing hidden videos to protect children from abusive baby sitters, etc. These businesses will also give you the opportunity to network and provide your services to other licensed investigators, clients, attorneys, and the courts and begin building trust and forming new relationships
Situations Where You DO NEED a State License
  • Start your own agency: You will need a state license if you decide to operate your own private detective agency and call yourself a licensed private investigator
  • Subcontract your services to other PIs: A subcontractor is a licensed PI who offers specific skills, services, and equipment to another licensed PI or agency for hire to perform part of, or specific tasks of, an investigation Read more>>
If you choose to do either of the above, the law requires that you apply for a state-issued license and meet the number of hours or years of experience required by your state’s statutes, which is usually 36 months. In addition, you may be required to pass a written examination and background check.

Note: Neither DTI’s course, nor any other course, whether home study or classroom study, is sufficient to meet any state’s experience requirements.

Should Your Start Your Own Agency or Work at One?

Although you may have desired to start your own agency upon graduation, there is still a lot to learn in this intriguing profession. DTI strongly recommends working for an agency first to master your investigative skills and to prepare yourself to deal with a range of clients, including insurance companies, businesses, and private individuals. You also need to learn how to conduct a wide a variety of assignments so you can meet all of your client’s needs and avoid complaints, which could put your license in jeopardy.

Once licensed, you'll face new challenges of running a detective agency: doing mostly administrative desk work, competing with other detective agencies, trying to get new clients, shopping for insurance and employee benefits, advertising, setting up a bookkeeping and case management system, hiring field investigators, paying bills, leasing a commercial office, etc. That's OK for the future, but right now you have a golden opportunity to train with DTI and immediately begin working as a private investigator in a private investigative agency, insurance company, attorney firm, or corporation. You can quickly begin to enjoy a great career with a professional salary, independence, and prestige.

To fully understand the required experience and mandatory licensing, click on the following useful links:

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