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Professional Investigator Frequently Asked Questions


Professional Investigator Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements to be a private detective (investigator)?
In Georgia, private detectives (investigators) must be licensed by the Georgia Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies. Among the basic background and statutory requirements, only those with the following will be considered for licensure:

  • 2 years prior licensed as a private investigator (apprenticeship)
  • 2 years of experience as a law enforcement officer
  • 4-year criminal justice (or closely related) degree

What is the difference between a private detective and a private investigator?
There is no difference; however, in Georgia the state statute for the license refers to this industry as a “private detective” instead of “investigator.” It’s just a matter of terminology.

Do I get my private investigator license after this course? Can I start my business immediately?
No. After completion of this course you must apply to the Georgia Secretary of State’s professional licensing board and take the STATE LICENSING EXAM. Upon meeting all the prerequisites and successful completion of the exam, you may obtain your license.

What if I do not have any of the qualifying experience?
You may become a registered private detective (apprentice) under a license holder for 2 years. This will then give you the requisite experience to become licensed in this state if all other criteria is met.

I am confused. What is the difference between a registered private investigator and a licensed private investigator in Georgia?
A registered private investigator (detective) is one that works under the guidance of a licensed investigator in this state. He or she is an employee that is registered with the company directly and during that term satisfies the 2-year statutory requirement for applying for licensure.

A licensed private investigator (detective) is the company owner, the one individual who has met and passed all state requirements. The licensed investigator may register as many investigators as needed under his or her license.

Can you go out and do your own business and work cases once you are registered?
No, you must have a license to operate a private detective business. A registration as a private investigator under a license holder is not sufficient to practice in this industry.

I am a former or current police officer. Do I still need to take this class?
Yes, the Georgia Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies requires that all applicants complete a 70-hour training course in private investigation taught by a certified instructor before he or she can be licensed as a company owner or registered under one.

Does this class meet the State of Georgia pre-licensure requirements?
Yes, it exceeds the state requirement and is taught and facilitated by state board certified instructors.

What are some of the topics I can expect to learn about?
Topics include but are not limited to investigation, interviewing, interrogation, surveillance, report writing, crime scene analysis, insurance fraud, retail security, family law investigations, Georgia law and rules of evidence.

I have been arrested and convicted of a crime. Can I still be a private investigator?
Georgia law states that applicants may not have any felony conviction, conviction of family violence or moral turpitude related offenses. Misdemeanor and traffic offenses are not necessarily a disqualifier.

Does this course have the firearms component required to carry a weapon?
No, this course does not fulfill the state firearms training and qualification requirement. This will be a separate class administered by a Georgia Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies certified instructor.

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Occupational Trends

PIs earn an average of $44,900 a year in the Atlanta market with the top 10% making $70,480 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

17.5% Growth

PI jobs in Georgia are expected to grow by 17.5% through 2020 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).