How to Start a Private Detective Business

Many modern day novels, TV shows and movies have glamorized the job of a private investigator. In reality, the job of a private investigator can be a lot more grueling and research oriented. Surveillance, sharp attention to detail, and analytical thinking are only some of the tools required to become a successful private investigator. If you think you have these traits then you should consider starting your own private investigation firm.

Taking a training course

The first step of becoming a private investigator is to take training classes for private investigation. This will help you in gaining knowledge about the technical as well as legal aspects of becoming a private investigator (PI). A lot of investigation work will demand surveillance and counter surveillance on your part and it is a must to have the required training in these methods. The courses and training may cost you some time and money, so plan accordingly.

State laws

Once you have completed the course, you should research the state laws for private investigators. Almost every state requires you to obtain a license before you can start working professionally. In some states, you may be required to give a written examination to get the license. A background check and licensing fee are part of the process. Certain states may refuse to give you the license in case you do not have experience in the field. So, it would be better if you worked for sometime with an investigation firm before starting your own business.

Working for another firm

As mentioned earlier, working for a separate firm helps you in gaining valuable experience. In addition to that, you can also establish contacts which will help you when you start your own business. You would need clients before starting your own agency and working in a firm will help you in making connections. Often, law firms are in need of investigators. So, start by checking if there are any firms in your area which might be in need of a PI.

Finding a niche

It is important to select one area for which you will market your services. For instance, if you are knowledgeable about marketing or retail, it would be a good idea to market your agency as a retail investigation firm. If you are knowledgeable about surveillance related work, then you should target corporations or people which might take up such investigators. Branding yourself is very important because you need to stand out from rest of the competition if you want to be successful.


You need to figure out how you will find investors or raise money for your business. Venture capitalists and banking loans are a couple of options available to you. All the financial issues must be taken into account and planned for beforehand.

Build a reputation

You should be thoroughly professional while conducting all your operations. This will help you in providing customer satisfaction and will also help you by avoiding any conflicts with the state over your license. Also, many clients research about the investigators before going for their services. Having a clean record and repute for professionalism will help you in this regard.

Advertise your agency

Placing ads in newspapers, Yellow Pages, and on online platforms like Craig’s List can be very beneficial. Creating a web site for you agency will also help you. All these operations will require money and you should consider them while raising capital.

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