One option to a career in private investigation is the ability be to your own boss. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, about 20% of private investigators are self-employed,1 but with the freedom of working for yourself, you need to be aware of certain details are either required or highly useful for your business. Three basic logistical areas that you will need to address are: license, marketing, and general business considerations.
Securing Your Private Investigator's License
The requirements necessary to obtain a private investigator license will vary from state to state. Most states require at least two years of related experience, either through an approved educational provider or from experience in similar fields such as law enforcement. It is important to get your business license, because you most likely will not be able to open a legal company or a business banking account without this license.
Marketing Your PI Business
It’s always a positive thing when prospective clients can find you. The Internet is the new phone book, so a website is a minimal requirement for a business, just as a listing in the Yellow Pages was not too long ago. Business cards are another useful marketing tool, as are stationary and pens with your business name and contact information as leave-behinds.
Business Considerations for Your PI Agency
- Health insurance coverage. As a self-employed business owner, you will need to obtain and pay for your own insurance. You will also want to factor in the additional taxes you will be responsible for into your overhead.
- Hourly rate. Establishing your rate will depend on a number of factors, such as charging an hourly rate -- which may vary depending on the type and complexity of task -- vs. a flat fee, regardless of time it takes. You will also need your rate to cover overhead, such as rent for office space, equipment, insurance, and other costs related to running a business. A high level of experience or sought-after specialization may allow you to charge more than other private investigation services in the area.
- Registration. Contact the Secretary of State to file the correct paperwork for registering the business name and the business with the state.
- Permits. Check with your local zoning office to see if you need a zoning permit for your office or a permit for your home-based business.
Proven Online Education from NITA
As with anyone establishing their own business, experience matters. If you don’t already have related industry experience, your first step should be to get an education in private investigation and/or start working as part of an investigative office. Firsthand experience is a valuable facet in the beginning stages of your career. To receive an industry leading education in the field of private investigation and learn how to obtain your private investigation license, check out the online courses available at the National Investigative Training Academy today. Share this post if you’re an aspiring private investigator interested in starting your own business.