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How to Become a Private Investigator in Tennessee

Updated: 4 days ago

To become a licensed Private Investigator in Tennessee does not require investigative experience or education. The state of Tennessee will issue you a Tennessee Private Investigator license if you meet the basic requirements and take a government licensing test. When you get your Tennessee PI license, you'll need to know how to perform investigations fit for Private Investigations, such as surveillance (the government PI test won't teach this). After learning how to perform investigations, you can simply work as a Private Investigator in Tennessee. It is recommended that you first learn how to perform investigations relevant to the PI industry, such as surveillance for insurance fraud files. The fact that Tennessee does not have experience or education requirements does not mean that the quality of investigations is less in Tennessee than in other states. In fact, due to poor state industry standards, having a PI license in general does not make you a qualified Investigator regardless of experience or education requirements. The poor industry standard come from the non-relevant experience most, if not all, states require of you to become a licensed Private Investigator. This non-relevant experience can be education degrees and non-PI investigative experience.


TN Department of Commerce and Insurance


Tennessee Private Investigator Requirements

  1. You must be 21yo or older.

  2. You need a clean criminal and personal record.

  3. You must be an American citizen/ legal resident.

  4. You need a high school diploma/ GED.

  5. You need to be employed by a Tennessee PI agency. This can be your own agency.

  6. You need to be fingerprinted and submit the fingerprinting document with your application.

  7. You need to take a PI exam.

  8. You will need to complete 12hrs of continuing education every two years after obtaining your PI license.


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Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance

Learn more about Private Investigator Online Training


An industry standard flaw most states have is regulations regarding law enforcement experience. Most states allow you to obtain a PI license if you have law enforcement experience. Some states also accept non-PI investigative experience to obtain a PI license. The problem with states requiring previous investigative experience is that there is no such thing as equivalent Private Investigator experience. Sure, a career in 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.

Private Detective Aptitude Test


Some states also require you to take an approved PI licensing course/ test, such as Tennessee. However, these courses/ tests typically focus on what laws you need to be aware of. This is of course useful, but new Private Investigators still need to learn how to perform investigations. The required tests/ courses do not focus on what we do most: single person mobile surveillance. Often, these tests/ courses do not not even mention single person mobile surveillance. If you are becoming a PI, you need at least 100 hours of surveillance experience to be able to perform safely and meet client's high standards.


Learn How to Write a Surveillance Report


Another requirement issue is the acceptance of post-secondary degrees. These degrees that are accepted for PI licensing are typically in the criminal justice field. However, some states accept any post-secondary degree. The issue is, having an educational degree will offer almost no help to you in the Private Investigation industry.


Novel Data Investigative Learning offers the only Private Investigator education courses that focuses on mobile surveillance and understanding the PI industry. For more information on PI education, click here.

















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