If you are a creative, driven individual with a strong sense of justice and good morals, working as a private detective might be the ideal job for you. In Georgia, there are ample opportunities to enjoy a successful career as a private detective, either as an employee at a detective agency or as a self-employed detective. In this guide, we’ll share the steps required to become a private detective in Georgia so you can begin this exciting, fulfilling career.
What is a Private Detective?
A private detective is a professional who is hired to conduct investigative work for individuals, businesses, attorneys, and organizations. Private detectives specialize in gathering information, uncovering facts, and conducting surveillance to help their clients with various types of cases and inquiries.
Learn more: What Can A Private Investigator Do (and Not Do)?
How to Work as a Private Detective in Georgia
There are two ways to work as a private detective in Georgia. The first is to get hired by an established private detective agency; this route is fairly simple and straightforward. The second way to work as a private detective in Georgia is to open your own licensed private detective agency. Opening your own detective company requires much more education and related experience than working as a private detective at an existing company. Both options are governed by the Georgia State Board of Private Detectives and Security Agencies.
How to Obtain Your Private Detective Employee's License in Georgia
Follow the steps below to become an employed private detective in Georgia.
1. Meet the Basic Requirements
The requirements to work as a private detective in Georgia are fairly simple. You must be at least 18 years old and be a United States citizen, or else a legal resident with the appropriate work authorization. Though there are no education and experience requirements mandated by the state, individual companies may have their own requirements before you can be hired.
2. Complete Pre-License Training
Private detectives in Georgia are required to complete a 70-hour basic training course. The course should be given by an instructor or school that’s been approved by the Georgia Board of Private Detectives and Security Agencies.
The pre-licensing course includes:
- History of Law Enforcement and Private Investigations History
- Surveillance Ethics
- Laws of Arrests
- Crime Scene Investigations
- Case recording and note-taking
- Courtroom testimony
- … and more
Taking the pre-license training courses before being hired can put you at an advantage over other applicants and increase your chances of being hired. However, the company that hires you is responsible for your training if you opt not to take the courses ahead of time.
3. Get Hired at a Private Detective Company
If you meet the basic requirements to become a private detective, you should begin applying to private detective companies in Georgia. The detective company is responsible for submitting an Application for Employee Registration on your behalf within 30 days of hiring you.
4. Submit Fingerprints and a Background Check
Once hired by a company, you must undergo a criminal background check as part of the pre-licensing process. Any felony convictions or certain misdemeanor convictions may disqualify you from obtaining a license.
6. Submit an Application to Become a Licensed Private Detective Employee
Once you’ve completed your training, you'll need to submit a completed application for a private detective license to the Georgia Board of Private Detectives and Security Agencies. You’ll be required to disclose information about your background, experience, and training, and submit the required fee of $70. The private detective company you work for may cover the application fee for you, depending on their specific policies.
7. Maintain Your License
Private detectives are required to complete 16 hours of continuing education each year to maintain good standing. Your place of employment should assist you with completing your continuing education.
How to Open Your Own Private Detective Company in GA
Follow the steps below to become licensed to open your own private detective company in Georgia.
1. Meet the Basic Requirements
In addition to the basic requirements of an employed private detective, you’ll also need at least two years of experience working in law enforcement or working as a private detective; alternatively, you can earn a four-year degree in Criminal Justice or a related field.
2. Pass the State Exam
You must pass the state-administered exam in order to create your own private detective company. You can prepare by taking an exam prep course through a licensed private detective training organization. Company designees should also have completed the 70-hour training course.
Learn more: Security Guard Test Prep - What to Expect
3. Acquire Liability Insurance
Private detectives in Georgia are required to obtain liability insurance in order to operate. You should acquire and show proof of $1,000,000 of general liability insurance coverage before submitting your application. Alternatively, you can show proof that you have a net worth of at least $50,000 or obtain a $25,000 surety bond.
4. Submit an Application for Private Detective Company Licensure
Once you’ve completed the required pre-license training, you can apply for licensure of your private investigative company with the Georgia Board of Private Detectives and Security Agencies. Self-employed investigators should also submit their fingerprints and give consent for a background check at this time. In addition to completing the application, you’ll also need to sign it and get it notarized. You’ll also need to pay the $100 application fee.
5. Maintain Your Licensure
Self-employed private detectives are also required to complete 16 hours of continuing education each year to maintain their licensure. You’ll be responsible for completing these courses yourself and submitting proof of completion to the Georgia Board of Private Detectives and Security Agencies.
6. Join Investigative Organizations
For networking opportunities, professional support, and awareness of the latest developments in the detective field, consider joining organizations like the Georgia Association of Professional Private Detectives (GAPPI). Doing so can be incredibly helpful for new investigative companies who lack an established infrastructure and experience.
What Disqualifies You From Becoming a Private Detective in Georgia?
Other than failing to meet the requirements listed above, the following can potentially disqualify you from becoming a private detective in Georgia.
Having certain criminal convictions on your record can disqualify you from obtaining a private detective license in Georgia. The specific crimes that can result in disqualification may include felonies and certain misdemeanor offenses. The severity of the crime and the time that has passed since the conviction can be factors considered during the application process.
False Statements or Fraud
Providing false or misleading information on your license application or during the application process can lead to disqualification. It's essential to be truthful and accurate in all your disclosures.
In some cases, serious financial issues such as bankruptcy or unpaid child support may be considered as factors in the licensing process. This can vary based on the circumstances and the discretion of the Georgia Board of Private Detectives and Security Agencies.
Ethical or Professional Misconduct
Previous ethical or professional misconduct, especially if it involves issues related to dishonesty or unprofessional conduct, can be grounds for disqualification.
Mental Health or Substance Abuse Issues
Certain mental health issues or substance abuse problems that impair your ability to perform the duties of a private detective responsibly can be grounds for disqualification.
How Much Do Private Detectives Make in Georgia?
The average salary of a private detective in Georgia can vary widely depending on experience, special skills, and employment location. As a self-employed private detective, your salary will be ultimately up to your discretion. However, the average private detective salary in Georgia is around $49,000, with a typical range between $39,000 and $59,000.
Online Private Detective Training At Your Fingertips
Wondering where you can find the best pre-license Georgia private detective courses? Look no further than NITA. We not only offer the required 70-hour pre-license training and state exam prep for the company license, but we also offer a wide variety of continuing education courses for private detectives in Georgia. NITA is here to help you unlock a successful and rewarding career as a private detective.
You might also like: