How to Become a Private Investigator in Massachusetts
Updated: Jun 19
Becoming a Private Investigator in Massachusetts is different from most other places. The difference is that Massachusetts does not require much for you to work as a PI for a Private Investigator agency. You simply need to be employed/ registered under a licensed Massachusetts PI agency. However, you won’t be a licensed Private Detective 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 (3 years). Other than investigative experience, you need to meet basic requirements such as age, language proficiency, and other usual requirements of this nature. Furthermore, you do not need to take a government approved PI licensing course/ test (most other places you do). In Massachusetts, the government body that controls licensed Private Investigators is the Certification Unit of the Colonel of the State Police. Once you submit the proof of your ability to meet the requirements and experience to the Certification Unit, you will get your Massachusetts PI license. Most jurisdictions will have a PI beginner’s license, Massachusetts does not. However, working under a licensed PI is similar to a beginner's license. This license is when your struggle will begin.
Your Private Investigator beginner’s license equivalent in Massachusetts is just being support staff to a Massachusetts PI agency. This will allow you to work for a Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts PI agency. However, the term “under supervision” will be in namesake only. You will not be supervised or guided by an experienced Massachusetts 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.
PRIVATE DETECTIVE LICENSE Requirements
-You need to be 18yo or older.
-You need to be an American citizen.
-You cannot have a history of mental illness.
-You must have a clean criminal and personal record.
-You need three personal references.
-You need three years of PI experience. or
-Have been employed as an Investigator for a government agency.
-Ten years of law enforcement experience, higher than Patrolman rank.
This lack of guidance is why so many rookie Massachusetts Private Investigators burn out and quit and why many experienced 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.
So, the time comes for you to work investigations in Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts 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 loosing 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 and get three years (full time average) of PI experience, 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.