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How to Choose the Right Private Investigator Course

Sep 4, 2008
More people than ever today are looking at private investigation as a serious career option.

Working as a PI is a challenging, sometimes exciting, varied, and generally well-paid job. It is also virtually recession-proof. In good times or bad, there will always be a need for private investigators.

Even if you have some relevant experience, however, it is still highly desirable to undertake professional training before setting out in this field.

For one thing, the work of a PI is extremely diverse. Even people who have previously worked in the police or private security industry are unlikely to have experienced the whole wide range of tasks a PI may be asked to perform. In addition, private investigators need a good knowledge of the law as it relates to their professional activities. Experience alone, even in a related field, is unlikely to provide this.

In this article, then, I will aim to set out some guidelines on choosing a private investigation course that is likely to meet your needs.

1. Choose a course aimed at people in your own country if at all possible. Although some aspects of PI work are the same the world ever, the legal framework within which investigators must operate varies considerably from country to country. It's therefore important that the course you take provides the specific legal background knowledge you need.

2. Choose a course that covers all the main areas in which a private investigator may be asked to work. As a minimum, your course should include tracing missing persons, surveillance, matrimonial and domestic work, process serving (serving legal documents), personal protection/bodyguard work, credit control and repossession, counter-espionage, and statement taking and reporting.

3. Choose a well-established course provider -- a college or other agency that has been operating for at least five years. Beware of fly-by-nights who appear on the scene suddenly and spend a small fortune on advertising. There is a very real risk that they will take your money and vanish in a few weeks, leaving you high and dry.

4. Expect to pay a reasonable amount for your training course. Private investigation is a large and complex field. Nobody is going to learn to be a PI from a photocopied 'manual' costing just a few bucks. Remember the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

5. Finally, try to find out as much about the course provider as possible. If they don't advertise a phone number and address, be wary. The same applies if they operate from a PO Box number or an obvious forwarding address. Phone them up and ask a few relevant questions. Get them to send you their prospectus, and ask if it is possible to speak to some of their alumni. All of this should give you a good feel for the provider in question, and help you decide if this really is the right course for you.

I wish you every success in pursuing your ambition to become a professional private investigator.
About the Author
Mark Gustaffson is the author of the Professional Private Investigator Course from Maple Academy, a leading professional training course for private investigators in the UK. For more information, see the Maple Academy website at http://www.mapleacademy.com.
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