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  • Peter Sandru

How to Become a Private Investigator in Illinois

Updated: 4 days ago

Becoming a Private Investigator in Illinois is different from most other places. The difference is that Illinois does not require much for you to work as a PI for an Illinois Private Investigator agency. You simply need to be registered as support staff for an Illinois PI agency. You will get a type of license for this: "Permanent Employee Registration Card." You will need a PI sponsor/ employer before applying for the PERC license. However, you won’t be a fully licensed PI but you can work as one. This can be viewed as you being a Private Investigator under supervision. A full PI license allows you to work for yourself (your own business). This requires you to have previous investigative experience or education. Other than investigative experience/ education, you need to meet basic requirements such as age, language proficiency, and other usual requirements of this nature. Furthermore, you need to take a government approved PI exam/ test (most places you do). After you apply for a PI license, you will be contacted regarding taking the PI exam. In Illinois, the government body that controls licensed Private Investigators is "The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation." Once you submit the proof of your ability to meet the requirements and experience/ education to the IDFPR, you will be able to take the Illinois PI exam. After successful completion of the PI exam, you will get your Illinois full PI license. Within 30 days of getting this license, you will need to take an approved PI training course. Most jurisdiction will have a PI beginner’s license. In Illinois, it is the PERC license. Getting this license is when your struggle will begin.


Permanent Employee Registration Card REQUIREMENTS


  1. You need to be 18yo or older.

  2. You need to be an American citizen.

  3. You cannot have a history of mental illness.

  4. You must have a clean criminal/ personal record.

  5. You will have to pay a small licensing fee.

  6. You must be sponsored by an Illinois PI agency.

  7. You will need to be fingerprinted and obtain a 16 digit fingerprint confirmation number by the service provider.



PERC Checklist


PERC checklist
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PERC Application Instructions


PERC Application Instructions
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Download PDF • 292KB

Learn more about Private Investigator Online Training


Your Private Investigator beginner’s license in Illinois is just being support staff to an Illinois PI agency. This license is called, PERC. It will allow you to work for a PI agency, but you will not be able to work for yourself (your own PI company). This means you must work under the supervision of a fully licensed Illinois PI agency. However, the term “under supervision” will be in namesake only. You will not be supervised or guided by an experienced Illinois Private Investigator. In fact, PI agencies are not economically structured to have mentor/ student surveillance teams. Furthermore, a background in non-PI investigations will give you some transferable knowledge but it will not set you up to become a successful Private Investigator. New Private Investigators still need to know how to be successful working surveillance operations. This is why practical Private Investigator education and training specifically for Private Investigators is necessary.


Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation


Private Detective Aptitude Test


This lack of guidance is why so many rookie Illinois Private Investigators burn out and quit and why many experienced Illinois Private Investigators are jaded. On top of this, PI clients with small budgets typically get the new unqualified Private Investigators, nobody wins in this situation. It is also not fair to small PI clients to use their files to haphazardly train new Private Investigators.


Learn How to Write a Surveillance Report


So, the time comes for you to work investigations in Illinois with no Private Investigator experience or education. If you took a PI course or PI training, it most likely focused on legal matters with no real practical Private Investigator training or topics. You will always be told by Illinois PI employers that “soon you will get some PI training,” which never happens. It took me over five years to figure out the industry and get good at a few specialized fields. During that time, I struggled and probably lost several hundred thousand dollars due to losing work opportunities from a lack of skill and education. What is sad is that this is a common story in the industry. If you make it through this meat grinder of an industry with three years of experience (full time average) and get an Illinois PI license, you be qualified to work for yourself with your own PI agency. Hopefully, when you are hiring new Private Investigators, you will appreciate the importance of proper PI education.



Full Private Investigator License Experience/ Education REQUIREMENTS

1. You need to be 21yo or older.


2. You need three years (full time average) of PI experience.


or


You need education degrees in a criminal justice type field equal to three years. If

your degree does not equal three years, it can be used as partial experience on top of

PI experience.

3. After you apply, you will be contacted regarding taking the PI exam.


4. After obtaining your PI license, you will need to take an approved PI course within 30

days.




Information on applying for a full PI license and opening a PI agency












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