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Private Investigator License Requirements
One of the most frequently asked questions when considering a profession as a private investigator is “Do you need a license to be a private investigator?”. The truth is that all but seven states require their private investigators to have a license. Only Alabama, Alaska, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi and South Dakota do not require licensure of private investigators.
While these seven states don’t require licensure at the state level, licensing at the local level is required in Wyoming, Alabama and Alaska. State licensure in Colorado is voluntary. The licensing requirements will vary from state to state. Some states permit private investigators to undergo firearms training and carry weapons before they can receive licensure. However, the education and experience requirements for state licensure will change according to the state issuing the license. The basic requirements usually are that the person desiring a PI license must be at least 21 years old, be a high school graduate, be a U.S. citizen or resident, be a person who has not received a dishonorable discharged from the military and not have any felony or misdemeanor convictions which involve crimes of “moral turpitude.” With regards to education, some states require the possession of an associate’s degree or higher in criminal justice or related major. It is common for states to allow substitution of experience for education, depending on what it is and how the applicant earned it. It is possible to get a private investigator license in Oklahoma with no experience, as long as the person completes training that the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) approved. New Hampshire allows a candidate to substitute two years of experience with education permitting candidates with an associate’s degree in criminal justice to use their education to substitute for two of the four years’ experience usually required. Licensing boards will vary from state to state, so it is important to know which board will be able to provide you with licensure for your state. While California licenses applications go through the Department of Consumer Affairs, states such as New Jersey and New Hampshire have the licensure of their private investigators through the state police. Your state may consider experience from other fields, as long as you have not previously worked as a private investigator. For instance, experience as a law enforcement official at the local, state or federal level would transfer. Other professions with useful experience are officers in a security company, claims investigators or drivers for a security company. This could mean that someone who worked for a security service that delivered cash or received cash in an armored truck may be able to use that experience when applying for a license as a private investigator. Receiving your PI License While each person wishing to become a PI must gain the minimum educational and experience requirements prior to applying for licensure, the next steps are completing the application and passing the examination. It is important to mention that generally prior to taking the examination, the applicant must undergo a thorough background investigation, including having their fingerprints taken. Many states will also require that the applicant provide both personal and professional references as part of the application process. People who know you on a personal and professional level should write these references. They should address your integrity and ethical behavior, and how that would be applicable to the job of private investigator.
Pennsylvania, however, has a unique licensure procedure wherein the PI must contact the Clerk of Courts in the county where they reside in order to request a court date and apply for a license. Additionally, the PI may need to apply for a surety bond in some states. This bond applies to some professions and protects their clients from any financial liability that may result from fraud. Though generally licenses can’t be transferred from state to state, private investigators, much like lawyers, may be able to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states. The states that engage in the reciprocity agreements include Georgia, Tennessee, California, Louisiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Oklahoma. Maintaining Your PI License Once the applicant has obtained licensure, the private investigator, like many other licensed professionals, must comply with the state’s continuing educational requirements to retain the licensure.
If you’re licensed in a state that requires continuing education credits (CEU), you will want to ensure that your board of licensure recognizes the CEUs you want to take. Many of the training programs are accessible online to make it easier for you to fulfill the requirements. This saves time, and ensures that the courses won’t overburden you with the time and effort spent on travel to attend in-person. Furthermore, some of the classes are available to those who are not licensed private investigators and may be beneficial to those persons interested in learning more about the field of private investigating. Many CEU companies offer a variety of courses, ensuring that you don’t have to take the same courses over again. They develop their courses with industry experts to provide the most up-to-date information, information that is not only accurate, but also pertinent to the issues that are important and critical to the times in which we live. While initially it may seem that these types of courses could be burdensome to you, they can actually be very enlightening and provide you with knowledge that will enhance your day-to-day practice and make you a better private investigator. Some of the courses are interactive, and you often have the options of either taking the courses at a specified location near you or viewing the course remotely. Licensure Requirements by State In addition to renewing their licensure, many states will require that private investigators update their background check results periodically. They may also require the recertification of firearms training. For example, Oklahoma’s CLEET requires its private investigators to receive 16 hours of additional educational training during the two-year licensure period. Oklahoma, under CLEET, issues a three-year license for new applicants with two-year renewals. Applicants aren’t permitted to renew their licenses unless they have completed the required education. The 16 hours of required educational training is greater than the education required by either armed or unarmed security guards. In Kentucky, for instance, the board may require that the person renewing their license show proof of continuing education. If they are unable to provide that proof, they may not be able to renew their license. In Iowa, a private investigator must be able to show that they have completed twelve hours of continuing education during their licensing period of two years. If they are unable to show that they completed the twelve hours of education, they will receive a 30-day provisional license. What this means is that they must be able to prove that they have completed the twelve hours of education during that 30 days. Otherwise, the board will deny their application for renewal. This has the potential for putting both their livelihood and their career in jeopardy, so it would be wise to complete the education early on during the period of the two-year license. Furthermore, Iowa must approve the CE classes as acceptable education for purposes of private investigator licensure. It is important to check with the company who is providing you with the education to ensure that the state accepts their classes. You may also read the state’s statutes to learn how many hours as well as the nature of the specific course requirements. Alabama requires that its private investigators keep a record of and complete sixteen hours of continuing education during the two-year licensure period. Interestingly, two hours of these required courses must be in the subject matter of ethics. Texas differs from the other states in that it requires private investigators who have worked in the profession in the state of Texas with a licensure of a minimum of 15 continuous years to complete 12 hours of continuing education every two years in order to be able to renew the license after a two-year period. Eight hours must focus on the specialty for which they are licensed. Two hours must consist of ethics, and another two relate to statutes and regulations.
In Tennessee, a private investigator has the option to retire a license that is in good standing with the commission that issues the licenses. Only upon proof of completion of continuing educational may the licensing commission reactivate the license. After the commission has received the appropriate fees and proof that the PI has satisfied the continuing legal educational requirements, the licensee’s gets their status upgraded to active. And while many probably believe that the role of the private investigator is most likely to involve following cheating spouses to hotel rooms, modern technology has proven that private investigators in the 21st century do much more than that. The State of Texas actually requires that their computer forensics examiners to obtain private investigator licenses. Other states have also started requiring that computer forensics examiners be licenses as private investigators. This particular licensing requirement may cause difficulties especially when forensics examiners are traveling out of state. The reciprocity agreements for licensed PIs may come into play creating a complexity not often seen the field of the private investigator prior to the evolution of computer forensics. Opponents of this licensure requirement believe that the licensure adds nothing to the quality of the work of the computer forensic examiners. They argue that the traditional private investigator is no more qualified to conduct the work of the forensics examiner than the examiner is qualified to do the surveillance work of the private investigator. They are asking why the same licensure should be required for the very different occupations. Clearly, computer forensic examiners must meet difficult certification requirements in their profession. But opponents of the requirement question whether licensing them as private investigators rather than another profession is truly the most appropriate means of accrediting them. Deciding How to Maintain Your Private Investigators License Using the Continuing Education Requirement If you are currently a private investigator, it no matter which state you live in, there is a great likelihood that you will need a license. And if you must have a license to practice, many of the states license their investigators for short periods of time (such as two years). During that period, depending on your state’s requirement, you will likely be required to obtain continuing education. If you are committed to being able to renew your license, and that license is contingent upon completing your continuing educational requirement, you must decide upon the best company that your state’s licensing board recognizes as providing continuing education. You will also want to ensure that the company you pick is reputable, offers a variety of courses and offers courses that will not only benefit you personally but will also professionally. It is vital that experts in the field teach these courses, to better enhance your educational experience. You should consider picking a company that meets all of those qualifications. That is why you will want to investigate StateCE. They offer courses for a variety of professionals and have assisted over “100,000 professionals since 2001.” Additionally, their state-of-the-art technology enables them to provide you with classes that you can take from the comfort of your own home. Additionally, StateCE will submit your credits to the appropriate licensing agency in your state by the end of the next business day after your completion of the classes.
Are you considering a career in private security? If so, you’ll find that private security is much like any other field in that those entering the industry will need a specific set of skills, talents, and abilities. However, most everyday individuals don't know as much about the world of private security as they might about other professions, such as accounting, teaching, or managing a store.
If you’re looking to head into this industry, you’ll need to make yourself aware of the top skills required for private security work. Only by learning this information can you measure yourself against it and see if this is the kind of work you could see yourself doing, enjoying, and excelling at.
To help you do just this, we’ve compiled a list of the top skills and qualities needed to work in security. Browse this list and ask yourself whether or not this is work that seems like it might be an ideal fit for you.
Qualities Needed in Private Security
Some jobs can be done well by just about anyone. Other jobs, however, require someone with a specific temperament and certain personal qualities. This has little to do with the actual, tangible skills the person possesses and instead has more to do with the type of person they are.
Just a few of the qualities which are highly prized in the world of private security include:
1. Honesty and Integrity
Honesty is one of the most essential qualities any aspiring security worker can have. Employers need to know they can trust you to get the job done and get it done right. While this is important in any industry, it’s especially vital in the world of security, where a failed job can result in thousands of dollars of damage, injury, or even death. For employers who will be hiring security workers, they need to know their employees are people they can trust.
However, honesty can be a difficult quality to measure in yourself. After all, few of us would admit to being dishonest even if we believed it of ourselves, and fewer still would truly have the self-knowledge to realize that they were dishonest in the first place. So instead of trying to weigh this abstract concept in yourself, try asking these specific questions instead:
- Do you follow the rules, even when the rules are inconvenient to you?
- Do you use the correct method of doing something instead of the easy method?
- Do you tell the truth even when no one would catch you for telling a lie?
- Do you have an instinctual, knee-jerk response toward doing things according to the rules and admitting when you’ve messed up?
If you answered yes to these questions, then there’s a good chance you have the honesty required to work in the security industry.
2. Alertness and Presence of Mind
Do you have the ability to stay focused and in the moment even over long periods of time? Are you able to keep yourself present even when nothing seems to be happening, and the situation is boring?
This is a vital skill for the security industry. As a security guard, you may be asked to spend hours watching uneventful security footage or waiting outside the exit of a building. Many people would begin daydreaming and lose focus on the present moment.
Security guards need the ability to stay alert no matter how boring the situation may seem. They need to maintain focus and be ready to jump into action at a moment’s notice. This means having the strength and mental discipline to keep their minds from drifting off.
3. Logic and Common Sense
One of the hallmarks of many types of security work is that the job is extremely boring until, all of a sudden, it isn’t. In other words, you may spend hours just waiting and watching before having to jump into action all in a split second. In moments like these, there isn’t always time to call your client or employer and ask for specific instructions. Because of this, you’ll need to possess the common sense and critical-thinking abilities to decide on the proper course of action at a moment’s notice.
If you’re the type of person who panics under pressure, has trouble making decisions, and feels more comfortable looking to others to make the decisions, then security work might not be the best fit. If, on the other hand, you’re always the one to suggest the common sense action and the first to address a stressful situation without waiting for the approval of others, then you might be a natural candidate for this work.
4. A Calm Temperament
Many people lose their heads and get angry sometimes. There’s likely not a single person on the planet who can honestly say they’ve never lost their temper. As a security worker, however, you’ll need to be the type of person who doesn’t lose their temper often and who is adept at keeping their cool even when the situation is stressful and might tempt you into reacting angrily or violently.
Security work has the potential to expose you to many upsetting and stressful scenes. But as a security guard, it will be your job to be the person who calms others down instead of becoming angry or afraid yourself. You’ll need to cultivate an even temperament and even a soothing demeanor as you may be called upon to comfort frightened bystanders. Above all, you’ll need to strive to never react in violence or anger to the stresses of the job.
5. Aptitude for Teamwork
As a security guard, it’s likely that you’ll often find yourself working as part of a team. Rather than being the sole person responsible for the security of a person, event or place, you’ll be one integral part of a team which works together to make sure everyone and everything involved stays safe.
And while teamwork is important in almost every job, from the retail workers and servers of the world to government officials, teamwork carries a special weight when it comes to security work. This is because if someone refuses to collaborate with the team, or runs off to do their own work while ignoring their co-workers, someone could get hurt, or something could be damaged. This is why it’s critically important that, as a security worker, you understand the value of a well-coordinated team where everyone realizes they are part of a larger whole.
6. Attention to Detail
As a security worker, it is imperative that you know how to pay attention to the details. If this is a skill and aptitude you naturally possess, that’s excellent. If you find that this doesn’t come easily to you, this is something you’ll want to work to develop.
Picture a scene where you’re pursuing a suspect on foot. You’re chasing them in the dark when suddenly they get into a vehicle and drive away, leaving you unable to continue pursuing. Later, your boss or colleagues ask you questions about the suspect. What did they look like? What were they wearing? What about the car? What was the make, model, year, and color?
A detail-oriented person would think to take notice of these things at the time the chase was occurring. Someone who has never bothered to develop this skill, however, may find themselves at a loss. If you’re serious about wanting to pursue this work, challenge yourself to become more observant and more adept at focusing on the small and seemingly insignificant details. This may just be the quality that makes you the best candidate to a job and helps you beat out the competition.
Security work is well-known for requiring its employees to work odd hours. This includes night shifts, weekend shifts, and irregular hours which change from day to day and week to week. If you crave the regularity of a 9-5 workday, Monday through Friday, then you may be inherently at odds with the life required of a security guard. On the other hand, if you’ve always been good at staying up late and find irregularity and unpredictability to be exciting, then this might be a fantastic fit.
Skills Needed in Private Security
Arguably, the most important factors when it comes to working in private security are personal qualities. Anyone can be trained in the specific skills of the job, but things like an even temperament and good communication skills are harder to teach, if they can be taught at all.
Nevertheless, it is still important to possess relevant skills and abilities if you want to be considered for work in the security field. Any job which hires you will certainly provide training into their specific protocols and knowledge-base, but it’s still a good idea to go into the field possessing a few of basic skill sets.
If you’re looking to pursue work in security, start thinking about how you can hone your skills in these key areas:
1. Computer Skills
As the world becomes increasingly digitized, it becomes more and more critical for someone in the role of a security worker to become knowledgeable about the world of the internet. This includes basic computer and IT skills, which are must-haves in the security sector, but it also extends beyond that. Security workers should have a good grasp of data, privacy, and the internet.
With so much crime containing a digital component these days, the data-savvy security worker may be able to notice patterns and trends to isolate concerns before they even come to fruition. The security worker who never bothered to learn these things, on the other hand, may not even realize there is a problem.
As a security worker, you probably won’t be required to become an expert hacker, although such skills would certainly not be misplaced. However, you will likely need to understand the basics of the digital world. This may mean taking a few basic courses in programming and IT work, or it may be as simple as developing a healthy awareness of the way your phone and your internet activity can be tracked and used.
2. Communication Skills
You need to be able to communicate effectively with your employer and clients. You’ll need to be able to work with them to clearly express security plans before they’re put into place. In the event of any security incident, you’ll likely find yourself needing to communicate clearly and efficiently with the police. Because many of these situations may be high-stress, you’ll also need to be the type of person who is capable of expressing themselves plainly even when the moment is tense.
3. Physical Fitness
While being a security guard probably won’t require you to do all the stunts and outrageous things you may see in movies, it is true that physical fitness is important for the aspiring security worker. You may be required to chase down a person suspected of criminal activity. Alternatively, you may need to contain or subdue this same person once caught, if they try to put up a fight. All of these things are difficult to do if you aren't in a better-than-average physical state.
It’s important to realize that almost anyone can become physically fit. Even if you have never been exceptionally strong or fit, there’s nothing that says you cannot achieve this in the future if you aspire to security work. However, if you hate going to the gym and dislike even the thought of exercising, then security work might not be a career that’s well-matched to you.
4. Multi-Tasking Skills
Many skills and abilities required in the security field are fairly unique, but this one is a little more standard, as it will serve you well in almost any job field. That skill is multi-tasking. When you’re on the job as a security worker, you may be called upon to simultaneously focus on multiple tasks at once, dividing your attention over numerous arenas. The skilled worker will be able to do this all while never losing sight of the little details.
Invest in Your Future With Private Security Training Today
Are you serious about getting into the world of private security? Then get started with the private security classes at StateCE. Our classes are designed to provide you with the real-world skills and knowledge base needed to become an effective part of this fascinating field. Choose from course options ranging from topics like private security law and ethics to alarm installation.
All our classes are online, meaning you can study and complete your training without the pressure of a classroom environment. You can complete the work on your schedule, and you can even choose between receiving electronic or print course materials.
If you’re ready to take the next steps into working toward your first private security jobs, it starts by getting the right training. Get in touch with us to learn more about how our program can work for you or sign up for your first course today.
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