To become a Private Investigator in South Africa means to be a PI registered with the South African government agency that supervises the investigation and security industry: "Private Security Industry Regulation Authority." Before this happens, you need to meet basic SA Private Investigator requirements such as age, language proficiency, and other usual PI requirements of this nature. To become a PI in South Africa, you also need to take a PSiRA approved Private Investigator licensing course/ program. Once you submit the proof of your ability to meet the PI requirements and completion of the mandatory course/ Private Investigator training program, PSiRA will register you as a Private Investigator. This is where your struggle will begin.
Your Private Investigator beginner’s license in South Africa is just being a registered PI with PSiRA. This 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 registration means you must work under the supervision of a fully licensed South Africa PI agency. However, the term “under supervision” will be in namesake only. You will not be supervised or guided by an experienced SA Private Investigator. In fact, PI agencies are not economically structured to have mentor/ student surveillance teams. Furthermore, a background in policing/ military and criminal justice 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.
It is recommended to contact PSiRA for PI applications and a list of approved Private Investigator licensing courses.
Private Investigator Jobs: How to Get Hired?
This lack of guidance is why so many rookie South African Private Investigators burn out and quit and why many experienced Private Investigators are jaded. On top of this, Private Investigator 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 with no experience or education. A background in policing/ military or criminal justice will offer little to no real practical Private Investigator knowledge. You will always be told by South African PI employers that “soon you will get some 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 Private Investigator skill and education. What is sad is that this is a common story in the SA Private Investigator industry. If you make it through this meat grinder of an industry, you can qualify to work for yourself (run your own PI agency). You will need to be a registered SA Private Investigator business for this. Hopefully, when you are hiring new Private Investigators, you will appreciate the importance of proper PI education.
South Africa Private Investigator Registration Requirements
You must be 18yo or older
You must be a citizen of South Africa
You must have a clean criminal record
You must complete an SA government approved PI licensing program
You must not be a member of any national security/ police agency
You must pay a small PI registration fee
Thinking of Becoming a SA Private Investigator?
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Get a certificate that "actually" matters. When you get certified by Novel Data in the 100 Level course, SA 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 South Africa PI
Yes, you can become a great South Africa Private Investigator. How? Through Private Investigator education. Not through the short South Africa 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 South Africa 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 South Africa 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 South Africa 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 South Africa 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 South Africa 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 South Africa 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 South Africa 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 South Africa 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. South Africa 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 South Africa Private Investigators are hired, is to obtain evidence. Obviously, learning how to obtain evidence, mostly in video form, is a must. As a South Africa 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 South Africa Private Investigator.
It should be apparent now, why and how you can become a South Africa 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 South Africa PI
-Regional licensing requirements for South Africa Professional Private Investigators
-Common misconceptions about the SA Private Investigation industry
-The learning curve of a Professional Private investigator
-Personal challenges encountered as a South Africa Professional Private Investigator
-Areas of specialization as a South Africa Professional Private Investigator
-Types of South Africa clients and corresponding file requirements
-How South Africa 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" South Africa Investigations
How SA Desk Investigations are performed
Finding missing persons in SA
Finding missing children in SA
Finding South Africans who intentionally disappear
Corroborated & circumstantial evidence
What is evidence & how to structure it
The Evidence Document
Google as an investigative tool
Background checks in SA
Daily Gear Protocol
Data & evidence security
Skill vs, luck and circumstances
Risk vs. reward
Surveillance subject identification
Understanding & managing Heat
SA traffic conditions
Driving methods for different SA areas or 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
Forensic investigations (rare)
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.