Private investigators uncover the truth by analyzing information found through investigative means. Many investigators use computers to recover deleted documents and files. Surveillance techniques are also used to verify information, such as discovering if a worker’s compensation claim is legitimate or fraudulent by observing the worker in question. To become a private investigator in Texas you must be licensed and meet eligibility requirements set forth by the Texas Private Security Bureau.
Enroll in a private investigator program. Community colleges, vocational schools, and universities offer degrees in private investigation. RWM Vocational Schools (rwm.org) and the Texas Department of Public Safety Private Security Bureau (txdps.state.tx.us/psb) list institutions with private investigator programs on their websites.
The time commitment of training programs depends on the type of program you choose to enroll in. Texas offers certificate programs, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees in private investigation. Certification programs take the least amount of time to finish, anywhere from three to six months. An associate’s degree in private investigation takes two years to complete while a bachelor’s degree requires four years of study. The price range for degree programs range according to the school tuition. Certificate programs can cost anywhere between $1,000 to more than $3,000 depending on the institution you select.
Apply for the appropriate private investigator license type after graduating. The state of Texas offers eight Private Security License Classes. Review each class description to determine the appropriate license for your type of investigation. After you have selected a class type, fill out the proper applications and include the application fee. As of 2010, the application fee for each class varies from $361 for a Private Investigation Company license to $412 for a Private Security Company license. Take note that each license class requires its own documentation. Review the General Requirements for Licensing provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety Private Security Bureau. You may find out more information on each of the aforementioned classes by reviewing the Instructions for Original Company License Application and General Requirements for Licensing by the Texas Department of Public Safety Private Security Bureau.
Submit the application and required documents to:
Texas Department of Public Safety Private Security Bureau P.O. Box 15999 Austin, TX 78761
After the Private Security Bureau has reviewed your application you should be notified within four to eight weeks. Once approved you should receive in the mail a physical license and be able to legally work as a private investigator in the state of Texas.
Work for an established private investigator firm as an intern or employee while undergoing training.
Never perform as a private investigator without obtaining licensure first. If caught, you may face jail time or a fee up to $10,000 (as of 2010).