To become a Private Investigator in Pennsylvania is different from most other places. The difference is that Pennsylvania does not require much for you to work as a PI for a Pennsylvania Private Investigator agency. A Private Investigator course or Private Investigator training is not even needed.
You simply need to be registered as support staff for a Pennsylvania PI agency.
However, you won’t have a full Pennsylvania Private Investigator's license PI but you can work as one. This can be viewed as you being a Private Investigator under supervision.
Pennsylvania Private Investigator Sponsor
To become a Private Investigator in Pennsylvania, you need to be hired by a local Private Investigator agency as well as meet the basic requirements. Getting hired as a PI in Pennsylvania requires experience. If you do not have investigative experience, you should take a PI course that focuses on practical skills: Intro to a Career as a PI 100.
Full Pennsylvania Private Investigator License
A full Pennsylvania PI license allows you to work for yourself (your own business). This requires you to have previous investigative experience (three years). Other than investigative experience, to become a Private Investigator in Pennsylvania, you need to meet basic PI requirements such as age, language proficiency, and other usual Private Investigator requirements of this nature.
Furthermore, you do "not" need to take a government approved PI course/ test (most places you do).
In Pennsylvania, the government body that controls licensed Private Investigators is the individual county court system you are in. You will need to contact your Clerk of Court to obtain an application for a full Pennsylvania PI license. Once you submit the proof of your ability to meet the requirements and experience to the county, you will get your Pennsylvania full PI license. Most jurisdiction will have a PI beginner’s license, Pennsylvania does not. However, being registered support staff is similar to a beginner’s PI license. This is where your struggle will begin.
Pennsylvania Private Investigator Beginner License
Your Private Investigator beginner’s license equivalent in Pennsylvania is just being support staff to a Pennsylvania PI agency.
Your Pennsylvania PI employer will register you with the government.
This will allow you to work for a Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania PI agency. However, the term “under supervision” will be in namesake only. You will not be supervised or guided by an experienced Pennsylvania 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.
Private Investigator Guidance in Pennsylvania
This lack of guidance is why so many rookie Pennsylvania Private Investigators burn out and quit and why many experienced Pennsylvania 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 case files to haphazardly train new Private Investigators.
So, the time comes for you to work investigations in Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania PI industry. If you make it through this meat grinder of an industry with three years of experience (full time average) and get a Pennsylvania 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.
Pennsylvania Private Investigator License Requirements
You need to be 25yo or older.
You need to be legally allowed to work in Pennsylvania.
You cannot have a history of mental illness.
You must have a clean criminal and personal record.
You will have to pay a small licensing fee.
You need to be fingerprinted.
You need five personal references.
You need a certified passport photo.
You need $10 000 in business liability insurance.
You will need three years of full time experience as an Investigator for a PI agency or law enforcement agency.
Thinking of Becoming a Pennsylvania Private Investigator?
“ICPI Level 100 online Private Investigator Training” is the ultimate blueprint to start your exciting and rewarding career as a real Private Investigator.
ICPI will help you start successfully in this amazing new career, even if you know nothing about investigations.
Our team has vetted out the best training and investigative methods so that you can jump-start your journey towards having the meaningful career you’ve always wanted, immediately.
This training system will provide you, a successful detective, with all the templates that you need to succeed. A clear path on becoming a PI, understanding the PI business, becoming a successful PI, and thinking like a detective- all the tools you need to make six figures being an investigative Operative.
To date, this online training system consists of over 100 informational slides, videos, exercises and quizzes that provide a step-by-step path on how to achieve your dream job as a Private Investigator.
ICPI Level 100 takes about two weeks to complete with over 30 hours of high-quality training content that will make you a Private Investigator well on your way to becoming an expert in this fascinating career.
Get a certificate that "actually" matters. When you get certified by Novel Data in the 100 Level course, 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 Pennsylvania PI
Yes, you can become a great Pennsylvania Private Investigator. How? Through Private Investigator education. Not through the short Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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. Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania Private Investigators are hired, is to obtain evidence. Obviously, learning how to obtain evidence, mostly in video form, is a must. As a Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania Private Investigator.
It should be apparent now, why and how you can become a Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania PI
Regional licensing requirements for Pennsylvania Professional Private Investigators
Common misconceptions about the Private Investigation industry
The learning curve of a Professional Private investigator
Personal challenges encountered as a Pennsylvania Professional Private Investigator
Areas of specialization as a Pennsylvania Professional Private Investigator
Types of Pennsylvania clients and corresponding file requirements
How Pennsylvania 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" Pennsylvania Investigations
How PA Desk Investigations are performed
Finding missing persons in PA
Finding missing children in PA
Finding PA people who intentionally disappear
Corroborated & circumstantial evidence
What is evidence & how to structure it
The Evidence Document
Google as an investigative tool
Background checks in PA
Daily Gear Protocol
Data & evidence security
Skill vs, luck and circumstances
Risk vs. reward
Understanding & managing Heat
PA traffic conditions
Driving methods for different PA areas or environments
Filming best practices
Mobile foot surveillance
PI surveillance Gearbag
Required surveillance equipment
Clothing and props
The physics or mechanics of foot surveillance
Covert PI equipment & techniques
On foot following techniques & best practices
Transitioning in and out of buildings
Video framing and quality
The Learning Curve of a Pennsylvania Private Investigator
A novice in any of the Pennsylvania Private Investigator fields or disciplines is an individual who has less than 2400 hours of experience and Private Investigator training. Once Pennsylvania PIs achieve 2400 hours of Private Investigator experience, they will have the confidence and expertise to work independently. When a Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania Investigator.
At the 10,000-hour mark, a Pennsylvania 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 15 years as a Professional Private Investigator. Peter has spent more than a decade conducting investigations and security operations throughout the world, primarily for insurance agencies, corporations, law firms, and government agencies. Peter has assisted in the creation of numerous investigative & security training programs in various capacities.