Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Private Investigator

How do I become a private investigator?

That's a complicated question with several parts that greatly depend upon in which state you plan on working. You have two options; You either work for a licensed private investigations agency or you go to work for yourself and obtain your own PI company license. Either way, you there are two considerations you must address at some point:

The first consideration is licensing; All but only a competent of states require a state-issued license to be a private investigator. Each state has different background, education and experience requirements that may vary from simply attending a state-approved training course to pre-licensing education, exams, years of work experience and obtaining a sizable professional liability insurance policy with "errors and omissions" coverage. To make matters just a little more confusing, there are some cities that require private investigators to either register or obtain a municipal license in states that do not otherwise require them.

The second consideration is training. Private investigation specific training is the most important investment you can make in yourself! Since most new PIs do not have the ability or are not ready to start up their own investigations company you will most likely be looking for employment with an established agency. As an owner of an established and well respected detective agency I get resumes all of the time; The first thing I look for before considering a candidate is to ask the question, "How has this person invested in themselves before asking me to invest in them?"

What if I Do not have the minimum experience required by the state to obtain my own company license? How will I ever break into the industry?

If your goal is to personally own your investigations agency, no problem … every state that requires experience also has a program in place to see that new investigators have access to eventually obtaining their own license. For example, in Texas where we hold an agency license those who are too new simply go to work for an established company until they have the required number of hours to be able apply for their own license. In Florida (where we also have an agency license) they specifically provide internship licenses. Again, every state is a little bit different but thousands of successful private investigators are working today and tens of thousands have come before us; We all had to get started someplace … you can too.

Also, consider your own background and employment related experience carefully some of it may apply. I have known loss prevention agents, security guards (in particular roles), accountants, firemen, bail bondsmen, alarm installers, teachers, and even a librarian use their previous employment experiences to apply for their own agency license.

What type of training should I be looking into?

Any amount of training is great though most PI companies do not place a whole lot of credibility with the courses from PCDI, Harcourt, and Thompson Direct. You could honestly do much better and at less cost.

Instead, look for academies or training programs that have been created by private investigators. Who knows better about what a new or an aspirating private detective needs to know than an investigator who has been in the field for a reasonable amount of time?

Also … look to see that the sponsoring company is active in the industry as well. Are they still providing regular private investigative services to a robust clientele? It's sad, but many PIs who wash out over a very short period of time in the business look to teaching. In reality, you will learn very little from those who could not make it themselves; Success breeds success!

Lastly, I have a little secret I would like to share with you …

Look over the education provider's entire website and see if you find boastful claims or where the company is bashing other educators. This is a very tight-knit industry and you will find that students who complete training programs from educators that spend time "bad mouthing the competition" have a terrible time getting a break simply because of the animosity created through their educator's use of negative advertising. I know that seems irrefutable but it is a reality in this business. This does not mean, however, that you should dismiss the negative press but the first thing an excellent private investigator learns is how to evaluate a claim, identify the source and make a judgment based on additional facts and research. Some statements will have merit while others will not; It's up to you to make that decision.

What is the difference between a private investigator and a private detective?

Nothing. The terms are used interchangeably but some states choose to use the term "detective" while most use the term "investigator."

I really just want to help my friends and family to find old friends or people who owe them money. Do I need a PI license?

That's a great question. Generally speaking, in those states where it is a requirement you will need to obtain a license if you hold yourself out for hire or accept payment from another person or business and participate in or provide the following services:

O Surveillance

O Obtaining or furnished information related to a crime or the identity, habits, business, occupation, knowledge, movement, location, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputation, or character of a person, group or company.

O Securing evidence for use before a court, board, officer, or committee

O Locating or recovering lost or stolen property and unclaimed funds.

O Determining the cause or responsibility for a fire, libel, loss, accident, damage, or injury to a person or to property.

Some states may specifically include such things as service of process, bail enforcement, personal protection and genealogical research under those activities that require a private investigator's license as well.

Do I have to have a degree in Criminal Justice from a college or university?

No, though some states may accept a degree in Criminal Justice, Administration of Justice or Police Sciences in lieu of the minimum experience requirements. One recent study conducted on behalf of the Virginia Department of Justice concluded that almost 57% of all private investigators do not have a college education.

If I do not have a college education do I have to have a background as a police officer or other law enforcement related profession?

No. Most private investigators do not have a law enforcement background before entering into this industry. It is true that many private investigators may have once had a career in criminal justice but the bottom-line is that private investigation and law enforcement is very different and my experience has been that very few who make the transition from law enforcement are prepared for this Type of work, either technically or creatively, on their own. Most of them recognize this and seek industry specific training as well.

What type of person makes a successful private investigator?

This business requires a rare blend of logic and creativity; It's rare because logical people tend to not be very creative and vice-versa.

I would say that any successful detective must first have the ability to communicate. This means that he or she must have the ability to connect with people of all walks of life, regardless of economic status, ethnicity or education. It also means that the investigator must have the ability to clearly present a simple fact or a complex inquiry in writing. The end result of an investigation is the investigative report, which is given to the client upon conclusion of the assignment; This is especially our work product. If you can not write reasonably well, your reputation will certainly suffer as a result.

Secondly, great investigators have a burning desire to answer any question that is put to them only after a careful and determined effort to identify the facts and circumstances that contribute to a complete and unbiased explanation. We are in the business to provide facts, not opinions; We let our clients draw their own conclusions from our report. Oftentimes in order to get to those facts, we must be relentless in our pursuit of information. This is where logic meets creativity. Dead-ends often only require a different approach!

Lastly, I believe that every investigator should possess a varied set of experiences and knowledge. One characterization of the private detective industry I can make is that by and large we represent a vastness of experience, skills, and trades. One of the most accomplished investigators I have ever metlisted "Mom" on her resume. When she decided to become a private investigator she had no appreciable skills that she could put in her resume but through her own experiences she had developed an intuition that was almost never wrong and she could simplify complex problems into there most basic parts. I have personally hired a plumber, building contractor, car salesman, and a host of other seemingly unrelated career types into my own company, CompassPoint Investigations, because they had certain intangibles that made them great in this business!

The bottom line is that anyone can train to become a wild successful private investigator, just like one can train to become a barber or an attorney, but an aspiring detective has to bring some things to the table that can not be easily taught: creativity, logic , The ability to communicate and an insatiable curiosity!

I have a criminal conviction in my background from many years ago. Will this affect my ability to become a private eye?

Every state that requires a license to be a PI also requires a background investigation as a part of the licensing process. I believe that a felony conviction will be an automatic disqualification in almost every instance (although I know a felon who has a PI license issued by the city of Columbus, MO.), While misdemeanors may be considered depending upon the crime, its seriousness and The amount of time that has passed since the conviction; Again this will vary by state.

Will my military discharge affect my ability to become a private investigator?

In some cases a discharge that is anything but honorable may prevent you from becoming a PI. Just as in the answer to the criminal conviction history above, some states require PI applicants be free from negative military discharge classifications- Bad Conduct Discharge, Less than Honorable or Other Than Honorable service characterizations are grounds for denial of a PI license in several states and Jurisdictions.

Perhaps the Florida Division of Licensing put it best: "Private investigators and private investigative agencies serve in positions of trust. Untrained and unlicensed persons or businesses, or persons not of good moral character, are a threat to the public safety and welfare. Investigative industry is regulated to ensure the interests of the public are adequately served and protected. "

Can I just specialize in a particular type of investigation or will I have to do the surveillances and cheating spouse investigations too?

I absolutely recommend that investigators find their niche and specialize in only a few types of investigations! There are several important reasons for this, which I discuss in my training programs, but it can be summed up this way: when you are the most notable investigator in your region of the country for a specific type of investigation, you will find additional additional Opportunities to make a lot more money than if you advertise yourself as a "jack of all trades." This has been proven across the country time and time again and is a major topic of discussion in our coming private investigation marketing manual.

What types of assignments do private investigators typically take?

Wow, the options are endless and the subject really describes its own entity section! I have listed the most obvious types of private investigator assignments in an article you can find by going to my Articles Page. I will eventually briefly describe each type of investigation in the next couple of weeks. Continue to check in as we are constantly making additions.

What type of investigation or specialty assignment pays the most?

I do not know that anyone can answer that question definitively, but I will say that surveillance is typically the most lucrative type of assignment a private investigator can get because it is solid, billable, blocks of time. I am aware that there are particular types of investigations where investigators are making anywhere between $ 300 and $ 500 an hour for activities like forensic computer evaluation, security consulting, automobile repossession, and a few others specialties. I personally have made $ 10,000 in an hour on several occasions in 14 years doing bail fugitive recovery work, those types of paydays are few and far between. Overall I average almost $ 150 an hour while engaged in bail enforcement, not too bad by most people's standards, though many investigators just do not have the stomach for that type of work. It can be extremely dangerous, it is a very competitive field and you get paid only if you can complete the case.

Is private investigation dangerous work?

Obviously, there are some PI jobs that are more dangerous than others like contractual repossession or bounty hunting but, generally speaking, private investigation is not a dangerous job. We all have heard the stories of PIs getting spoken while on surveillance by an irate cheating husband or being chased out of a yard at the business end of a shotgun while serving a subpoena. Most episodes of Magnum PI had Tom Selleck dodging bullets, too. Certainly, scary things can and do happen on rare occasions but like all war stories, the ones that seem to get a lot of attention play out more like fiction than reality. Safety is always at the forefront of every trained investigator's mind.

Complete Guide to Facebook Marketing

Unless you've been living on another planet, you would be aware of the popularity and influence of Facebook today.

Just a few short years ago, you had to encourage all your family and friends to join this social networking website (just after others convinced you to join). Nowadays, it's rare to find someone who has not gotten a Facebook account.

At last count, there were over 350 million users on Facebook and this number is continuing to grow. It overtook MySpace as the number 1 social networking website on the planet last year and is just behind Google when it comes to online traffic. You are then able to understand how important Facebook marketing has become for all websites.

It's Not A Pitch Zone

The most important thing to remember about social media is that it is not a place to blatantly and endlessly pitch your product or service. If you do this, then you will not get any favors from social media users and will get poorly ignored and even bad reviews.

What social media is used for is building relationships with potential clients. There are several ways you can go about doing this:

– you can post helpful information (links) where you help them solve a problem
– you can personally chat with them and assist them you can create content addressing the needs of users and posting it

The bottom line is that you want to be seen as genuine and helpful. This way, word can get out that you're the real deal and before you know it, people will become interested in what you have to offer in terms of products and services.

Of course, the things you share on social networking sites such as Facebook should not be the nitty gritty stuff that you have to offer. You should share helpful information in the form of teasers that will interest people enough to ask and wonder if there's more. Offering free stuff is great for getting attention too.

How To Market On Facebook

The great thing about Facebook is that from the outset, it has encouraged all users to use the website as a means of sharing information and marketing whatever they please. As a result, it has developed many ways for users to do this. You do not have to use every single one of them but a combination of them can only enhance your Facebook marketing.

Pages

This is probably the marketing tool out there on Facebook. On its website Facebook describes Pages as "a public profile that enables you to share your business and products with Facebook users." It is specifically designed for promoting a business and everything it has to offer. People can then become a fan of your page and when they do this, they let their friends know that they've become a fan of your page via their News Feed. The potential for your Page to gain a lot of popularity in a small period of time is great.

Of course, it all depends on the content you put out there for people to use. You need to give them a reason to become a fan of your Page and a reason for them to keep being one.

Events

This allows to create events to be held at a certain date and time. Depending on what type of business you are, you can create one to be held locally or internationally. It can be any one of the following:

– seminar – it should be introductory and free but you could promote a paid one too
– webinar – an online seminar and where anyone worldwide can join
– product / service launch – you may be about to launch a product or service and this is a way to gain attention

The best part about creating an event on Facebook is that it can go viral and before you know it people will be attending your event in droves.

Advertising

Finally, about a year ago, Facebook introduced an advertising service where people can put ads promoting their website or their Facebook Page and they pay per click (PPC) or impression (CPM). It works in a similar way to Google AdWords.

The best thing is that you can target your ads based on both geographical locations and social actions. For example, if you were a wedding photographer and wanted to promote your services, your ads can be set up to appear only to females between the ages of 24 and 30 and who relationship statuses indicate they are engaged.

It must be noted, however, that Facebook Advertising is still in beta mode which only means that it will only improve in the near future.

Embrace Facebook

If you wanted to market your website online, you would be absolutely nuts not to use Facebook marketing as one of your key strategies. Just be careful not to get talked up in it too much because it can become a very time consuming activity.

The L Steps – 6 Steps of Real Estate Investing

Real estate investing in Miami real estate is now becoming popular again as there are many properties in foreclosure, short sale, bank reo's, and government foreclosures. With such an overwhelming inventory of homes available for sale a real estate investor must be able to determine which one to purchase. Investors must follow six steps in order to learn, understand and achieve Miami real estate investment success.

These are the six L steps to Miami real estate investing:

1. Location – Location, location, location is still the key of buying Miami real estate. Buying Miami real estate just because the price is low in a declining area is big mistake that should be avoided. Look for homes in an excellent location like, good schools, economic stable and growing neighborhoods, near shopping centers and malls, near bus stops and metro rails, near hospitals and restaurants. Sometimes it is better to pay a little more for a property in a good location than getting a bargain in a place where it is very hard to sell or rent the asset. Location is often overlooked in purchasing real estate as many investor think they can exceed a bad location if the price is low enough. Out of two homes that are exactly the same, the one in the best location will command a much higher sales price and rental income. Location is the number consideration when purchasing Miami South Florida real estate.

2. Long Term – Real estate investing is a long term proposition. Do not think you are going to be a millionaire over night. It takes years of hard work and dedication in order to succeed. Hold any property at least one year before selling it. Capital gain taxes will be greatly reduced. Consider renting the property for at two or three years. The rental income generated will help you to properly repair and renovate the property. Many investors purchased properties in the middle of real estate boom with no money down and no equity. These investors were thinking of flipping the houses fast and making a killing in the process. Many homes now in foreclosure are due to investors that were caught in the middle and now realize that real estate investing is very hard to time. Long term Miami real estate investing is the secret to a successful real estate career.

3. Lease Option – Never rent a property with a lease option to buy. Either sell or rent it straight out. A lease option is usually a disaster for both buyers and sellers. The tenant will demand a large discount of the rent to go towards the down payment and closing costs. The problem is that tenant will not buy the property at the end of the lease and the landlord / seller will have wasted a lot of money in rebates given to the tenant / buyer. Demand a 20% or 30% deposit from the tenant / buyer and a clause in the contract that if they default on the purchase they will lose the deposit. This technique will force the buyer / buyer to purchase the property or lose the deposit. The risk of losing the deposit will eliminate the tenant from taking advantage of the landlord by walking out of the contract after receiving a monthly rental discount.

4. Local – Buy real estate close to where you live. Do not buy real estate in another state or in another country. Keep real estate investing local. Buy in your own county and in your city. The more you know about the area where you are buying the better the decision will be. The investor should always be close to the investment property. The Miami real estate investor should inspect the property often to determine any repair, roof and other problems. The landlord must inspect the property every month when collecting the rent. Check for the number of tenants actually living in the property, check for damages and destruction of the property and overall condition of the place. The investor / landlord will not be able to inspect and determine the condition of the property if it is located far away. Keeping real estate local is an essential step in real estate investing.

5. Leverage – Most real estate books and seminars tell you to use other people's money when purchasing real estate. This technique is not the best and buyers should try to buy the property in cash if at all possible. Buying a house in cash will help you get a better deal and allow you to negotiate from a position of strength. A cash buyer will always have the upper hand in negotiating with banks, property owners, and other sellers. Cash buyers will not suffer and go into foreclosure if the market turns and they are unable to sell or rent the house right away. Like Dave Ramsey always says "cash is king and debt is dumb". Buying an investment property in cash is an excellent way to avoid Miami real estate investment errors.

6. Learn – Research the property and learn everything about it before you buy. A mistake in Miami real estate investing can be very costly. Usually you make your money when you buy not when you sell. Buying the property at the wrong price the wrong place and at the wrong time could be detrimental. One mistake could wipe you out and put you out of business before you start. Ask questions to the experts, real estate agents, appraisers, mortgage brokers, and other real estate investors. Learn, research, educate yourself in all aspects of real estate investing before you purchase the asset.

It is definitely a buyers market in Miami-Dade County. Miami real estate investors have more choices than ever before when it comes to real estate investing. Investors must follow the L steps, the 6 steps real estate investor guide to successful real estate investing in order to achieve their investment goals in the Miami real estate market.

Building Background – Benefits of Using Sentence Frames to Build Background Knowledge

Even as native English speakers we sometimes struggle with just the right word to explain, describe, clarify, or elucidate what we want to convey. We always understand more than we can speak. One of best ways to engage English language learners (ELL) in actively acquiring new material is to connect their background knowledge to the new topic. So, let's give them some brackets to help them use language.

We will be most successful if we remember to always start with the concept or theme.

# 1 When beginning a new topic, let pairs pretest one another. Write this sentence frame on a board, overhead, or PowerPoint, or make your own blackline master with the sentence frame repeated four to six times on a page so you can cut them into strips to hand out to the pairs.

A: "Do you know anything about (topic)?

B: "I'm not sure, but I do know _____."

Egypt "I think it could be _____ because I learned _____."

After students copy the sentence frame, or use the handy strips, erase the word 'topic' in the first sentence. Write in the topic for today. It may be a theme, or a characteristic, or an emotion.

  • Read the sentence frame aloud to the students.
  • Read it again, and this time the students should repeat after you.
  • Give them sixty seconds (yes, really time it, using the entire sixty seconds) to look at the word and think about everything they know about it. No talking. No writing. Just thinking.
  • Next, let students use another 60 seconds (yep, time it again) to write words and phrases to capture their thoughts about the topic.
  • Finally it is time to talk.

This is time well-spent. Your lesson will be stronger and more relevant. Your students will be engaged. You can continue to spiral the content, connecting it to what they already know or previously learned. The ELs will build confidence as they are encouraged to think, write, and talk about what they already know.

# 2 Plan more opportunities for pupil interaction. Here's another sentence starter than can be used with individuals, then shared in small groups.

This new theme of _____ reminds me of a time in my life when _____.

# 3 Make sentences frames with the word 'because' to have students explain connections between previous learning and the new topic.

"I think the next topic will be _____ because our last lesson was _____."

This kind of sentence frame encourages prediction according to prior learning. This is a good time to show the students how much they have learned and how it all links together.

# 4 After reading a story, a sentence frame can be used to let students speak with a partner. You can expand this speaking activity to include a second partner, like elbow- partners and across-the-aisle partners. Provide a sentence frame:

For example, "I think _____ is a hero, because _____."

# 5 Ask students to make comparisons to concrete objects in linguistic ways. Hand out objects to students and give them some time to think and write again, before speaking.

Try this sentence frame with a variety of objects:

I am like this _____ (Snickers bar), because I am _____ (nutty).

I am like this _____ (Matchbox Ferrari), because I am _____ (small and fast).

I am like this _____ (red pencil) because I am _____ (my face is red because I have to talk aloud).

The objects you use can be almost anything!

Now that your imagination is raising up, make up some brackets to use tomorrow.

  • Think about how you would want the smartest student in the school to speak.
  • Then use your target vocabulary and academic language to make a sentence frame.
  • Encourage your ELLs to speak in complete sentences in all conversations in the classroom. This will increase their academic vocabulary, which maximizes learning, and builds confidence.
  • Kids like to feel smart!