To Become a Private Investigator in New Jersey is different from most other places. The difference is that New Jersey does not require much for you to work as a PI for a Private Investigator agency.
To work as a PI, you simply need to be employed under a NJ PI agency.
You will not even need to take a NJ Private Investigator course or official state Private Investigator training to work as a Private Detective in NJ. However, you won’t have a New Jersey Private Investigator's license but you can work as one. This can be viewed as you being a Private Investigator under supervision.
Full NJ License
A full New Jersey PI license allows you to work for yourself (your own business.). This requires you to have previous investigative experience. Other than investigative experience, to become a Private Investigator in New Jersey, you need to meet basic NJ Private Investigator requirements such as age, language proficiency, and other usual PI requirements of this nature. Furthermore, you do not need to take a government approved PI licensing course (most other places you do). In New Jersey, the government body that controls licensed New Jersey Private Investigators is The New Jersey State Police Private Detective Unit. Once you submit the proof of your ability to meet the requirements to the NJSPPDU, you will get your New Jersey PI license. Most jurisdiction will have a PI beginner’s license, New Jersey does not. However, being an employee under a NJ PI is similar to a beginner’s PI license. This is where your struggle will begin.
Private Investigator Jobs: How to Get Hired?
NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE
PRIVATE DETECTIVE UNIT
P.O. BOX 7068
WEST TRENTON, NEW JERSEY 08628
NJ Private Investigator Experience
The problem with New Jersey requiring previous investigative experience is that there is no such thing as equivalent Private Investigator experience. Sure, a career in NJ law enforcement will gain you some transferable skills to bring to the PI world. However, an investigative career outside of PI work will not provide you the skill-set to perform what we do the most: single person surveillance for insurance fraud investigations. Furthermore, PIs typically obtain all evidence via quality and litigious video. This is uncommon for most other investigative careers. Being a police officer will not make you a good PI the same way being a PI will not make you a good police officer.
NJ Beginner PI License
Your Private Investigator beginner’s license in New Jersey is just being employed under a New Jersey PI agency. It will allow you to work for a NJ 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 New Jersey PI agency. However, the term “under supervision” will be in namesake only. You will not be supervised or guided by an experienced NJ 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 NJ Private Investigator. New Private Investigators still need to know how to be successful working operations. This is why practical Private Investigator education and training specifically for Private Investigators is necessary.
This lack of guidance is why so many rookie New Jersey Private Investigators burn out and quit and why many experienced NJ 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 NJ 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 NJ 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 and get a New Jersey 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.
NJ Private Investigator License Requirements
Requirements to Work as a PI in New Jersey
You simply need to be employed under a New Jersey PI agency. This means you need to be legally allowed to work in NJ. Your PI agency is most likely going to want you to have investigative experience. This is where proper PI education can help. Your PI agency will help you with registration.
New Jersey Private Investigator License Requirements (work for yourself)
You need to have a NJ PI license to operate a PI business
Age: you must be 25yo or older.
Citizen: you will have to be an American citizen.
Criminal Record: you will need a clean criminal record.
Investigative Experience: you will need five years (full time average) of experience as an Investigator for a NJ PI agency or government agency.
Thinking of Becoming a NJ Private Investigator?
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Get a certificate that "actually" matters. When you get certified by Novel Data in the 100 Level course, NJ Private Investigator agencies will be aware that you understand the PI industry. This will give you a great competitive edge in the PI job market. Most PI applicants know very little about the PI job they are applying to. Not you. A PI hiring manager will not want to risk turnaround by hiring someone unfamiliar with the industry, they will choose an applicant who is familiar with what will be expected of them. With Novel Data's certification, that applicant will be you!
Become a Great New Jersey PI
Yes, you can become a great New Jersey Private Investigator. How? Through Private Investigator education. Not through the short New Jersey government licensing course, but through at least 100hrs of practical Private Investigator education. This can be online Private Investigator training classes or in an in-class training environment. In order to become a successful New Jersey Private Investigator and meet Private Investigator requirements, you need to become educated on the complexities of the private investigation industry (this will also help you decide if you want to pursue the PI career) and how to set yourself up to become a successful Private Investigator. Secondly, you will need to become educated on how to perform investigations.
To learn the complexities of the New Jersey private investigation industry you will need to understand a few Private Investigator industry topics. Regional licensing requirements for Private Investigators will teach you what you need to obtain your New Jersey Private Investigator license. To help you decide if you want to enter the career of private investigation you, will have to learn the common misconceptions about the Private Investigation industry. Understanding the learning curve of a Private Investigator will set you up to become a successful Investigator.
Before entering the New Jersey PI industry, it is useful to know the challenges encountered as a Professional Private Investigator. This will also help you make career decisions. Then you need to learn what you will be doing as a Private Investigator. Learning the areas of specialization as a Professional Private Investigator and types of clients and corresponding file requirements will help with this. You will need to learn how New Jersey Investigators obtain assignments and hours of work to determine if this work environment is right for you.
If you are concerned about your ability to perform as a New Jersey Private Investigator and how to be a Private Investigator that is successful, learning what factors will determine your aptitude as a Professional Private Investigator and what makes a “good” Professional Private Investigator will be essential. It is also important to know the physical and health requirements and health considerations. Then there is equipment. Learning about equipment needed in order to get started in a career as a Professional Private Investigator is a must.
Furthermore, you will need to educate yourself on communication devices and their role in private investigation. Lastly and most importantly, you must learn “The Investigative Mindset.” This will teach you how to think like a Private Investigator. After you learn these concepts, you will be well on your way to becoming a Private Investigator even without experience.
After learning the complexities of the New Jersey private investigation industry, you will need to develop practical skills in various areas. The most important areas are Desk Investigations, Pre-surveillance, surveillance, mobile vehicle surveillance, on-foot surveillance, obtaining evidence, and litigious reporting. To learn Desk Investigations, you will need to understand what is a Desk Investigation, Desk Investigation nomenclature, corroborated/ circumstantial evidence, The Evidence Document, The Desk Investigators Mindset, Google Basics for North America, and social media search basics for North America. Surveillance will be the largest subject to learn. Under this field you should learn about setting up a proper surveillance vehicle, surveillance spot checks, and surveillance set ups for various investigative operations.
As a New Jersey Private Investigator, you will spend the majority of your time performing investigations solo. This is why learning single person surveillance is crucial. Furthermore, you will occasionally work in surveillance teams, so you will need to learn how to perform surveillance with two or more surveillance operatives. New Jersey Private Investigators perform a lot of their surveillance from a surveillance vehicle, but also on foot, you will need to learn this also. The entire reason New Jersey Private Investigators are hired, is to obtain evidence. Obviously, learning how to obtain evidence, mostly in video form, is a must. As a New Jersey Private Investigator, you will need to obtain quality video that is litigious and that will satisfy your client. At the end of all this, you will need to learn how to create an investigative report that will most likely be used in litigation. After you learn all of this, you will have no trouble becoming a successful New Jersey Private Investigator.
It should be apparent now, why and how you can become a New Jersey Private Investigator. Yes, the government licensing course is necessary but it will not set you up for success as a Private Investigator. You will always need at least 100hrs of practical Private Investigator education. You will need to learn the PI industry, as well as how to perform. In fact, becoming a Private Investigator through proper education will set you up to become more successful than Investigators with many years of experience but who have not developed a strong foundation with proper Private Investigator education.
What You Need to Learn to Become a successful New Jersey PI
-Regional licensing requirements for New Jersey Professional Private Investigators
-Common misconceptions about the Private Investigation industry
-The learning curve of a Professional Private investigator
-Personal challenges encountered as a New Jersey Professional Private Investigator
-Areas of specialization as a New Jersey Professional Private Investigator
-Types of New Jersey clients and corresponding file requirements
-How New Jersey Investigators obtain assignments and hours of work
-What factors will determine your aptitude as a Professional Private Investigator
-What makes a “good” Professional Private Investigator?
-Physical health requirements and health considerations
-Equipment needed in order to get started in a career as a Professional Private Investigator
-Computers, tablets and peripherals
-NATO – Phonetic Alphabet
-The Investigative Mindset
What You Need to Learn to "Perform" New Jersey Investigations
How NJ Desk Investigations are performed
Finding missing persons in NJ
Finding missing children in NJ
Finding people in NJ who intentionally disappear
Corroborated & circumstantial evidence
What is evidence & how to structure it
The Evidence Document
Google as an investigative tool
Daily Gear Protocol
Data & evidence security
Skill vs, luck and circumstances
Risk vs. reward
Understanding & managing Heat
Traffic conditions in NJ
Driving methods for different NJ environments
Filming best practices
Mobile foot surveillance
PI surveillance Gearbag
Identifying the subject
Clothing and props
The physics or mechanics of foot surveillance
Covert equipment & techniques
On foot following techniques & best practices
Transitioning in and out of buildings
Video framing and quality
The Learning Curve of a New Jersey Private Investigator
A novice in any of the New Jersey Private Investigator fields or disciplines is an individual who has less than 2400 hours of experience and Private Investigator training. Once New Jersey PIs achieve 2400 hours of Private Investigator experience, they will have the confidence and expertise to work independently. When a New Jersey Private Investigator acquires over 10,000 hours of experience in a given field, they are considered to be proficient in that particular field or discipline. Due to the many disciplines in the New Jersey Private Investigator industry, it would take many years of hard work and effort to master them all. Most PIs choose to specialize in a few fields rather than trying to become experts in all areas.
A novice New Jersey Private Investigator, no matter how intelligent, must learn through experience. Private Investigator school is an excellent way to build a solid foundation; however, to become fully capable a novice New Jersey PI will need experience. The learning curve is defined by specific skills one can only obtain by working in the professional investigative industry.
An experienced New Jersey Private Investigator will have a better ability to predict situations and know what information to look for. A novice Investigator is more likely to experience tunnel vision of thought and action due to stress and other contributing factors. These factors will contribute to the novice missing details that a more experienced investigator would have spotted and leveraged to move the investigation forward.
The experienced New Jersey Professional Private Investigator will have seen many typical situations in a particular field and will adapt their methods as they apply knowledge from past experiences.
In the New Jersey Private Investigator profession, you will never stop encountering new situations that will act as learning opportunities to increase your knowledge and skills. If you ever arrive at a point in your career when you believe you can do no wrong, be prepared to be reminded that this is a lifelong journey. The Professional Investigator draws from the past, uses that information in real time to make calculated decisions and anticipates things yet to happen. Effective experience-based decisions will benefit the client and shape your reputation as a New Jersey Investigator.
At the 10,000-hour mark, a New Jersey Private Investigator is considered a master in whatever field they obtained those hours. They will have encountered nearly every situation imaginable in that field and have a vast repository of experiences to work with. When a new situation does occur, the master Investigator will be able to apply the Private Investigator knowledge gained from past experiences to the new situation. Furthermore, the master Investigator will not be susceptible to tunnel vision and will be able to think clearly in new situations, even intense ones.
About the Author
Peter Sandru is an Instructor & Co-Founder of NDIL with over 14 years as a Professional Private Investigator. Peter has spent more than a decade conducting investigations and security operations throughout the world, primarily for corporations, law firms, and government agencies. Peter has assisted in the creation of numerous investigative & security training programs in various capacities. Thru NDIL, Peter has helped many individuals in New Jersey on their journey to becoming Private Investigators.