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Reviewing License Requirements and Disqualifiers
All potential PIs need to understand license requirements and disqualifiers. The following are general guidelines, followed by your state’s specific requirements.

License Requirements

If you are going to start your own agency or work as a PI subcontractor, you need a license. To acquire a license, you must be:
  • At least 18 years old if applying unarmed
  • At least 21 years old if applying armed
  • Have at least three years of investigative experience
  • A United States citizen or resident alien
You Must Have:
  • No criminal convictions that directly relate to your capacity to perform the duties of a private investigator or hinder public safety
  • A physical location for the business—either home or commercial
  • A valid business license with your local Department of Business
How to Apply for a License

In addition to passing a written examination, you must submit:
  • A completed Private Investigator Application
  • A (usually) non-refundable application fee
  • One completed fingerprint card
  • Proof of three years of investigative experience performed before applying for the license
  • A certificate of liability insurance usually with a minimum coverage of $25,000 bodily injury and $25,000 property damage or a $10,000 Private Investigative Agency Surety Bond (states may vary on this)
  • If your company is a corporation, a copy of articles of incorporation and a list of officers and departments and their addresses
License Disqualifiers

Although you should refer to your particular state’s disqualifiers, most states will disqualify you from applying for a PI license if any of the following conditions exist for you:
  • Are under 18 years of age and are applying to be a private investigator, or private investigator associate (intern).
  • Do not have three years of investigative experience
  • Are not a citizen or legal resident who is authorized to seek employment in the United States
  • Have ever been convicted of a felony, whether or not your conviction was subsequently set aside and your Civil Rights were restored
  • Are currently under indictment for a felony, or named in an outstanding arrest warrant
  • Have been convicted of any misdemeanors involving personal violence, misconduct with a deadly weapon, dishonesty or fraud, arson, theft, domestic violence, narcotics, or sexual misconduct within the last five years preceding your application
  • Are on parole, community supervision, work furlough, home arrest, or release on any other basis
  • Are on probation pursuant to a conviction for any act of personal violence or domestic violence
  • Have been adjudicated mentally incompetent or found to constitute a danger to self or others
  • Have a disability, which renders you incapable of performing essential functions of the job even with reasonable accommodation from an employer
  • Have been convicted of acting or attempting to act as a security guard or private investigator without a license if a license was required
Note: Not all arrests will disqualify you from enrolling in DTI or pursuing a career as a private investigator and eventually obtaining your license. Many of the country's top investigators committed minor crimes in their past, but this has not stopped them from being successful today. If, after reviewing your states licensing disqualifiers, you are still concerned about a criminal blemish on your record, feel free to email Student Services.

Now that you understand about state licensing, it’s now time to learn about the requirements in your state. As you research your state’s requirement, keep in mind the following requirements as they refer to age, on-the-job experience, training and education, prior criminal record and other disqualifiers.

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