Learn how to become a private investigator in the Old Dominion State.
What You’ll Do as a PI in Virginia
Private investigators are the civilian counterparts to police investigators. When individuals or companies don’t want to go to the police with their concerns, they can count on private investigators—and the experience that they’ve gathered over their careers—to do investigative research for them.
But before you can become a private investigator in Virginia, you first need to obtain a state-issued license, and that means getting the required training at an approved Virginia private investigator school.
Like detectives in other states, private investigators in Virginia may specialize in any of a number of different areas:
- Divorce matters
- Child custody cases
- Employee theft
- Insurance fraud
- Missing persons
- Asset searches
- Background investigation
- Video surveillance
- Personal protection services
The area you decide to specialize in depends on many factors, but primary among them are your own personality and interests.
Qualifications for PI Licensing in Virginia
To be eligible for a private investigator license, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident alien, and be at least 18 years old. You also must have successfully completed a training program at a Virginia private investigator school.
Entry-level training takes 60 hours and covers the following topics:
- The standards of professional conduct and ethics
- Private investigation and the law: statutes and regulations; legal procedures and due process; civil and criminal law; rules of evidence; and legal privacy requirements
- Investigative skills: conducting research and surveillance, and interview techniques
- Documentation: No amount of surveillance or research is useful if you can’t put your findings into a good report. In Virginia private investigator school, you’ll learn how to write reports that are both clear and concise. You’ll also study the most modern photography and audio technology, and the basics of courtroom testimony.
- Types of investigations: accident; insurance; background; domestic; undercover; fraud and financial; missing persons and property; and criminal
In addition to the coursework above, each module requires that you pass one practical exercise on the subject matter.
Ethics for PIs in Virginia
Following ethical guidelines is crucial for private investigators. Careless, illegal or unethical behavior not only risks placing investigators and their work in legal jeopardy, but it can also negatively affect the public’s perception of the entire profession.
Private investigators in Virginia pledge to uphold the following ethical code:
- To conduct themselves with honesty, integrity and good conscience
- To preserve their clients’ confidences
- To conduct all their investigations within the bounds of legality and morality
- To council clients against any unethical or illegal actions
- To explain all fees and charges in their case and to render a factual report
Private detectives must always be above suspicion. That is why ethics is a core course in Virginia private investigator school.