You don't need to be an ex-cop or ex-alcoholic to be a private detective. Divorce yourself from the images of drinking bourbon at your desk while waiting for the next case to come in. People can become a private detective at almost any age. Many detectives start out as field investigators for agencies. Agencies usually like to employ those who have a college degree in criminal justice or political science. It helps to call local agencies in your area to find out what type of qualifications they are looking for in an applicant.
In addition, new private detectives who go into a specific field usually need a bachelor's degree. For instance, corporate investigators generally need a degree in business, finance or accounting to be able to collect evidence of fraud. However, those going into insurance fraud usually pick up skills on the job. If you want to go into computer-forensics, you better know how to turn on a computer. Computer-forensic detectives often learn the ins and outs of fraud detection by working for law enforcement agencies. You can also get certified by going through a professional organization such as the National Association of Legal Investigators or the ASIS International.
Regardless, if you are just out of college or an ex-cop, you probably need a Private Investigator’s license to open up shop. First, you need 6,000 hours of work experience. You can get that working at an agency. Second, you need to apply. To apply, you must be able to prove that you worked 6,000 hours for an agency. By the way, that's equivalent to working full-time for a little over 6 months at an agency. You then need to pass an exam pertaining to criminal law and investigative practices. You need a clean background check to get a license. If there are any skeletons in your closet not left over from Halloween, they'll find them. Finally, you get to choose your business name. Feel free to choose from one of the following: Donny’s Investigatory Services, Private Dick's Hourly Rate, or Looking Fur You Pet Detectives.