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  • Peter Sandru

How to Become a Private Investigator in Ohio

Updated: 4 days ago

Becoming a Private Investigator in Ohio is different from most other places. The difference is that Ohio 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 Ohio PI. However, you won’t be a 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 (4000hrs). 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 (most other places you do). However, you will need to take an Ohio government PI test. In Ohio, the government body that controls licensed Private Investigators is the Private Investigators and Security Services under the purview of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Once you submit the proof of your ability to meet the requirements and completion of the Private Investigator licensing test to the the Ohio Department of Public Safety, you will get your Ohio PI license. Most jurisdiction will have a PI beginner’s license, Ohio does not. However, being employed under a licensed Ohio PI is similar to a beginner’s PI license. This is where your struggle will begin.

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Your Private Investigator beginner’s license equivalent in Ohio is just being support staff to an Ohio PI agency. Your Ohio PI agency will register you with the government. 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 Ohio PI agency. However, the term “under supervision” will be in namesake only. You will not be supervised or guided by an experienced 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 operations. This is why practical Private Investigator education and training specifically for Private Investigators is necessary.

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This lack of guidance is why so many rookie Ohio 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.


Ohio Department of Public Safety


Private Detective Aptitude Test


So, the time comes for you to work investigations in Ohio 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 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 4000hrs 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.



Working Unlicensed Under an Ohio PI Agency 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 and personal record.

  5. -You will need to be a registered employee under an Ohio PI agency. When applying for a PI job, the PI agency will complete an employee registration document to send to the Ohio licensing department.



Full Private Investigator License (Class B) Requirements


  1. -You need 4000hrs of PI experience. This is waived for law enforcement. Degrees in a criminal justice type field also count as hours.

  2. -Take the Ohio PI test. You will be contacted for information regarding the test after you submit your PI application.



Apply for a full Ohio Private Investigator License Online















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