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  • Peter Sandru

How to Become a Private Investigator in Virginia

Updated: Jun 19

To become a licensed Private Investigator in Virginia does not require investigative experience. The state of Virginia will issue you a Virginia Private Investigator license if you meet the basic requirements and take a government licensing course. When you get your Virginia PI license, you'll need to know how to perform investigations fit for Private Investigations, such as surveillance (the government PI course won't teach this). After learning how to perform investigations, you can simply work as a Private Investigator in Virginia. 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 Virginia does not have experience requirements does not mean that the quality of investigations is less in Virginia 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/ 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.


Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services


Virginia Private Investigator Requirements


-You must be 18yo or older.

-You need a clean criminal and personal record.


-You must be an American citizen/ legal resident.


-You need a high school diploma/ GED.

-You need to be finger printed. The DCJS will be notified once your fingerprints have been processed.


-You will need to complete a 60hr government approved PI course. You will need to search for an approved Virginia PI course provider.


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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.


Some states also require you to take an approved PI licensing course/ test, such as Virginia. 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.


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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