How to Become a PI:

 

The private investigation industry is a fascinating and exciting profession. Each state regulates the private investigators and licensing requirements within their particular state. In Texas, private investigators are regulated by the Texas Department of Public Safety/Private Security Board (http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/psb/) as provided in the Private Security Act (Chapter 1702, Texas Occupations Code).

It is a violation of the Texas Occupations Code to advertise, solicit business, bid on contracts or perform any investigative services without being properly licensed. Violations can result in administrative and civil penalties as well as criminal filings against the violator.

RULE §35.121 Investigations Company License (a) Pursuant to the Act, the department has determined that an applicant for licensure as a private investigations company or the prospective manager of the applicant company must meet one of the qualifications detailed in this section: 
(1) Three (3) consecutive years of investigation related experience; 
(2) A bachelor's degree in criminal justice or related course of study; 
(3) A bachelor's degree with twelve (12) months of investigation related experience; 
(4) An associate degree in criminal justice or related course of study, with twenty-four (24) months of investigation related experience; 
(5) A specialized course of study directly designed for and related to the private investigation profession, taught and presented through affiliation with a four (4) year college or university accredited and recognized by the State of Texas. This course of study must be endorsed by the four (4) year college or university's department of criminal justice program and include a departmental faculty member(s) on its instructional faculty. This course of study must consist of a minimum of two hundred (200) instructional hours including coverage of ethics, the Act, and this chapter; or 
(6) Other combinations of education and investigation related experience may be substituted for the above at the discretion of the department or its designated representative. (b) The degrees referenced in subsection (a) of this section must be affiliated with a college or university recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or other accreditation organization recognized by the State of Texas.

After meeting the qualifications for manager, the person must register to take the manager’s exam with the Private Security Bureau. Upon successful completion of the written exam, the person must show proof of liability insurance.


Upon qualifying as the manager/owner of the agency, the manager can hire other individuals that can operate as private investigators under their agency after they meet the manager’s requirements (including the requirements below). To be licensed and employed by a licensed company as a private investigator, a person must meet all the requirements set forth in Texas Occupations Code 1702.113, summarized in part (but not in whole) below. The person must:

  1. be at least 18 years of age; 
  2. not have been convicted, in any jurisdiction, of a felony level offense; 
  3. not have been convicted, in any jurisdiction, of a Class A or equivalent misdemeanor; 
  4. not have been convicted, within the past 5 years, in any jurisdiction, of a Class B misdemeanor or equivalent offense;
  5. not currently charged with, or under indictment for, a felony, or a Class A misdemeanor; 
  6. not currently charged with, a Class B misdemeanor; 
  7. not have been found by a court to be incompetent by reason of a mental defect or disease and not have been restored to competency; 
  8. not have been dishonorably discharged from the United States armed services, discharged from the United States armed services under other conditions determined by the Board to be prohibitive, or dismissed by the United States armed services if a commissioned office in the United States armed services; 
  9. not be required to register in this or any other state as a sex offender.

Additional Business Considerations:

Private Investigators in Texas are required to charge their clients sales tax. The taxes must be collected and paid to the State Comptroller (http://ourcpa.cpa.state.tx.us/coa/Index.html) by the 20th of each month. Taxes do not have to be charged to a client if they are a government agency (city, county, state, etc).

Depending on how you decide to set up your business, you may decide to incorporate and this is done through an attorney and/or the Secretary of State (http://www.sos.state.tx.us/).

TALI invites you to consider attending a TALI training conference.  We do not endorse any online PI training courses.