Most people believe it is difficult to become a licensed private investigator in the state of California. Assuming you have the right disposition to investigate sensitive issues, it may be easier than you think to acquire a license.
Knowing what it takes before you pursue this occupation can aid in your goals and help you maintain your license once you meet the following general requirements:
- Be 18-years-old or older
- Undergo and clear a criminal history evaluation
- Pass a written examination
- Three years (totaling at least 6,000 hours) of experience in investigative work
The California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) regulates private investigators. It allows applicants to substitute a portion of the experience requirement discussed above with a degree in criminal justice, criminal law or police science.
Once you meet the requirements and have your license, you must take responsibility in maintaining it. Learning what you can and cannot do as a private investigator is a large part of this responsibility. For example, say you already have a state-issued concealed weapon permit. The BSIS still requires you to complete a BSIS-approved firearms training program and acquire a BSIS exposed firearms permit before you can carry or use a weapon.
During your private investigator career, never underestimate the importance of being proactive about professional license defense. This means staying up-to-date about each regulation under the jurisdiction of the BSIS. Even a small change in the state's administrative laws surrounding security and investigations can put your license at risk.
Finally, consider researching and selecting a professional license defense attorney before you ever need one. This ensures that you are prepared to take defensive action immediately if any issues arise that threaten your license.
Source: CA.gov, "Frequently Asked Questions - Private Investigator (PI)," accessed April 26, 2018