To Become a Private Investigator in Ontario is similar to most other places: you need to meet basic Private Investigator requirements such as age, language proficiency, and other usual requirements of this nature. Furthermore, to become a Private Investigator in Ontario, you need to take a government approved Ontario Private Investigator's license course. In Ontario, the government body that controls licensed Ontario Private Investigators is Service Ontario which is a government body acting under the Ministry of the Solicitor General. So, it is Service Ontario that will have a list of approved Ont PI licensing courses. This list is available on their website. After completing the course, you will need to pass a Service Ontario PI license test. This is called the Basic Ministry Test. Once you submit the proof of your ability to meet the requirements and completion of the licensing course/ test to Service Ontario, you will get your Ontario PI license. Most jurisdiction will have a PI beginner’s license, Ontario does not. You will get to start out with a full Ontario Private Investigator license. This is where your struggle will begin.
The process of how to become a PI in many places starts with a beginner's license. Your Private Investigator beginner’s license in Ontario is just a regular Private Investigator license. 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 PI license means you must work under the supervision of a fully licensed Ontario 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, Ontario PI agencies are not economically structured to have mentor/ student surveillance teams. Furthermore, the Ontario licensing course 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.
Private Investigator Jobs: How to Get Hired?
Mail application to:
Occupational Licensing Services Office
P.O. Box 4500
This lack of guidance is why so many new Ontario 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 be a Private Investigator and work investigations with no Private Investigator experience or education. The Ontario licensing course you took 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 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 and get an Ontario Private Investigator business license, you will 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.
Ontario Private Investigator License Requirements
You must be 19 or older.
Have a clean criminal record.
Be a Canadian citizen.
Be English language proficient.
Take government PI license course.
Pass government test.
Get a passport photo.
Submit documents online/ mail.
Get a guarantor.
You must be 19 or older.
You cannot have a criminal record. You must obtain your own criminal record check. The RCMP offers this service. The fee is usually around $50. You can submit the criminal record document to Service Ontario.
You need to be a Canadian citizen and submit a copy of government ID to Service Ontario.
You must be able to speak and write in English
Government Approved PI License Course
You will need to complete a license course approved by Service Ontario. After completing the course, you will be given a completion number. Use this number to register for the Service Ontario test.
You will need to pass the Basic Ministry Test
You have to provide a certified passport photo.
The documents you submit can be sent to Service Ontario via mail or online uploading.
You will need to get someone you know personally to verify your identity.
You will have to pay a small licensing fee.
Working For Yourself
To work on your own you need to obtain an Ontario PI business license. You need an Ontario PI license to do this.
Thinking of Becoming an Ontario Private Investigator?
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Become a Great Ontario PI
Yes, you can become a great Ontario Private Investigator. How? Through Private Investigator education. Not through the short Ontario 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 Ontario 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 Ontario Private Eye 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 Ontario 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 PI.
Before entering the Ontario 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 Ontario 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 an Ontario Private Investigator, 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 Ontario 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 an Ontario 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. Ontario 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 Ontario Private Investigators are hired, is to obtain evidence. Obviously, learning how to obtain evidence, mostly in video form, is a must. As an Ontario 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 Ontario Private Investigator.
It should be apparent now, why and how you can become an Ontario 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 Ontario PI
Regional licensing requirements for Ontario Professional Private Investigators
Common misconceptions about the Private Investigation industry
The learning curve of a Ontario Professional Private investigator
Personal challenges encountered as an Ontario Professional Private Investigator
Areas of specialization as an Ontario Professional Private Investigator
Types of Ontario clients and corresponding file requirements
How Ontario 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 PI
Computers, tablets and peripherals
The Investigative Mindset
What You Need to Learn to "Perform" Ontario Investigations
How Desk Investigations are performed
Corroborated & circumstantial evidence
What is evidence & how to structure it
The Evidence Document
The Investigative Mindset
Google as an investigative tool, such as reverse CA phone search
Social media & investigative web basics using open source intel
Daily Surveillance Gear Protocol
Data & evidence security
Surveillance communication protocols
Skill vs, luck and circumstances
Risk vs. reward
Understanding & managing Heat
Surveillance traffic conditions
Driving methods for different areas or environments
Filming best practices
Transitioning to foot surveillance
Transitioning back to a surveillance vehicle
Mobile foot surveillance
Required surveillance equipment
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
About the Author
Peter 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 Ontarians aspiring to become Private Investigators.