FAQ - Florida Private Detective
- Is there a difference between a Florida Private Investigator and a Private Detective?
- Do I need a license to become a Florida Private Investigator?
- Types of licenses(s) needed in Florida.
- How can I become a Florida Private Investigator?
- What must the Florida private investigator applicant provide the State?
- Do you need to be former law enforcement to be a Private Investigator?
- What related occupations would be beneficial in becoming a Private Investigator?
- What types of cases do Private Investigators work on?
- Is it beneficial to attend a PI training program?
- How much do Florida Private Investigators really earn?
- What are the skills need to become a successful Private Investigator?
- What are the traits of a successful Private Investigator?
- Do Private Investigators have police powers?
- Do Private Investigators have access to government records?
- Will a Criminal Justice degree help me become a Florida Private Investigator?
- How do I find a job as a South Florida Private Investigator?
- What type of equipment do Private Investigators use?
- What associations do Private Investigators belong to?
- What types of books should I be reading to become a Private Investigator?
Florida Private Detective - Investigator Frequently Asked Questions
In Florida, the statute governing private investigators is chapter 493. Like in Florida, many states, allow the words ‘private investigator’ and ‘private detective’ to be interchangeable, but in some states there actually is a difference in their accepted meaning.
To further clarify and summarize requirements and titles, Florida offers the public a private investigator handbook. This will update investigators and civilians alike on the current laws and regulations.
Historically, the profession of non-law enforcement investigations started back with Pinkerton in the late 1800’s. Historically the term “private detective” was the formal name or title used, and the company they worked for was called a “detective agency.”
Starting around 1960, many states did not want the public to confuse a private detective with that of a police detective. There has been a trend amongst many state licensing authorities and state investigative associations to use the title ‘private investigator’ as compared to ‘private detective’. In fact, many have actually taken legal steps to stop using the “detective” title.
The confusing answer is Yes and NO. I will use the exact terms and definitions that the State of Florida uses when defining all types of licenses.
Types of licenses(s) needed in Florida.
Private Investigator — Class “C” license — Any individual, except an “in-house” investigator, who performs investigative services must have a Class “C” Private Investigator license and must own or be employed by a licensed Class “A” Private Investigative Agency or Class “AA” or “AB” branch office. Class “C” licensees may not engage in investigative services except through a licensed agency; Class
“C” licensees may not subcontract.
Sections 493.6201(4) and (5), F.S.
Private Investigator Intern — Class “CC”
license — Any individual who performs investigative services as an intern under the direction and control of a designated sponsoring Class “C” licensee or designated sponsoring Class “M” or “MA” Agency Manager licensee. Class “CC” licensees may not subcontract; they must work for a Class “A” agency or branch office.
Section 493.6201(6), F.S.
Private Investigative Agency — Class “A”
license — Any company, which engages in business, as an investigative agency must possess a Class “A” license. A Class “A” license is valid for only one location. A Class “A” agency cannot subcontract with a Class “C” Private Investigator or Class “CC” Private Investigator Intern, but they may subcontract with another Class “A” agency.
Section 493.6201(1), F.S.
Branch Office — Class “AA” license — Each
branch office of a Class “A” agency shall have a Class “AA” license.
Section 493.6201(2), F.S.
Agency Managers — Class “M” or “MA” license
— Any individual who performs the services of a manager for a Class “A” Investigative Agency or a Class “AA” Branch Office must have a Class “M” or “MA” Agency Manager license. A Class “C” licensee may be designated as a manager in lieu of the Class “M” or “MA” license. Class “M” or “MA”
licensees cannot subcontract; they must work for a Class “A” Private Investigative Agency.
Section 493.6201(3), F.S.
Each agency or branch office shall designate a minimum of one appropriately licensed individual to act as manager, directing the activities of the Class “C” or Class
The owner of a Class “A” Private Investigative
Agency who is licensed as a Class “C” Private Investigator can designate him/herself as the agency manager and does not have to apply for Class “MA” licensure. All licenses are valid for two (2) years, except Class “A”, Class “AB”, or Class “AA” Agency licenses, which are valid for three (3) years, unless suspended or revoked by the Division of Licensing. Licensees have the duty to renew their licenses on time and should apply for renewal 60-90 days prior to expiration.
Sections 493.6111(2) and 493.6113, F.S.
The Class “C” Private Investigator license or Class “CC” Private Investigator Intern license or Class “M” or
“MA” Agency Manager license must be in the possession of the individual licensee while engaged in regulated activities.
Section 493.6111(1), F.S.
Exemptions to having a Florida Private Investigator License
IN-HOUSE INVESTIGATORS – No license required
Definition — An unarmed investigator who is solely, exclusively and regularly employed as an investigator in connection with the business of his/her employer when such employer does not provide, or advertise as providing, investigative services for a fee. An unlicensed investigator may not provide investigative services to any person or business other than his/her employer.
Section 493.6102(3), F.S.
Example: An individual may be employed to investigate matters specifically related to his/her employer’s business such as employee theft, background checks on potential employees, etc.
Example: Investigators working in-house for a Class “A” Agency must have a Class “C” license and are not exempt under Section 493.6102(3), F.S. Where can I find the licensing requirements to become a Private Investigator?
Applications are available online in Florida at the Division of Licensing website. You can also contact any regional offices. The information provided below is an overview of the application process to become a Florida private investigator.
Any person applying for a license must:
Be at least 18 years of age
Be a citizen of the United States or a legal resident of the United States or have been granted authority to work by the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)
Have no disqualifying criminal history
Be of good moral character
Have no disqualifying history of mental illness or alcohol or controlled substance abuse
Any person submitting an application for a Class “C” Private Investigator License, a Class “M” Investigative & Security Agency Manager License, or a Class “MA” Private Investigative Agency Manager License ON OR AFTER JANUARY 1, 2008, must pass an examination. Applicants whose applications are already on file with the Division of Licensing as of December 31, 2007, will not be affected by this new requirement. This examination will cover those parts of Florida law that deal directly with the business practices of the private investigative industry and the legal responsibilities of the individuals and agencies that work in that industry (sections 493.6100 through 493.6203, and section 493.6301(5), Florida Statutes). We strongly recommend that you read and comprehensively understand Chapter 493 and that you take the time to read the Private Investigator Handbook.
The applicant must provide the following:
Date of birth
Social security number
Place of birth
Residence addresses for the past five years
Occupations for the past five years
Statement of all criminal convictions
Statement whether he or she has been adjudicated incompetent or committed to a mental institution
Statement regarding any history of alcohol or controlled substance abuse
Two full-face color photographs
Full set of prints on the Division's fingerprint card
Personal inquiry waiver
When the application is received, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation perform a criminal history record check to determine if the applicant has a criminal history which will disqualify him or her from licensure.
No, you do not need to be a former member of either the military or law enforcement to become a Florida private Investigator.
Former police officers, military intelligence officers, people that were raised with “street smarts”, people that are able to multi task and maintain their calm demeanor while facing mounting stress and pressure. I come from a medical background, and my comprehensive understanding of business has been one of the foundational reasons for this company’s success. Having the best staff possible that has autonomy is also a key component to our South Florida private detective agencies success. If you can interact with a diverse group of people, if you have the ability to maintain your temper in the face of adversity, if you understand what our core goals are as well as believe in our mission, call Cory T. Knight today. This is not work for us as we love and are passionate about what we do.
As a South Florida Private Investigator, we have the ability to work on thousands of types of cases, however on a daily basis we handle the following: Surveillance, Cheating Spouse investigations, computer forensics investigations, car accident investigation, motorcycle accident investigation, workers’ compensation accident investigations, search engine optimization investigations, slip and fall investigations, trip and fall investigations, accident reconstruction, trial presentations, litigation and pre-litigation support for both plaintiff and defense work. These are just a few of the types of private investigations we handle on a daily basis.
A training program for Florida private investigator or detectives is a great benefit; however there is no substitute for on the job training.
It depends on the position and specialized training and experience. Subrosa specialists, counter surveillance specialists, surveillance specialists, computer forensics experts, are some of the specializations that draw a variety of salaries. From my experience the salary range is $30,000.00 - $350,000.00 for a small agency. This being said, the more knowledge you possess about insurance, liability, tort feasor’s, um coverage’s, municipality liability, bodily injury policies and investigations, you can command an increased salary expectation.
In my opinion, to be successful as a South Florida private investigator, you would need to have common sense / street smarts, and quick reasoning skills. These skills can make the difference between success and failure on a case as well as getting hurt or staying safe. I have found that a variety of skills are much better than a single specialty. The most important point is you need to have core business skills and the ability to market yourself, before you can acquire cases to utilize your investigative skills.
Aside from bladder control, some of the traits of a successful private investigator include patience, discipline, common sense, intuition, anticipation, focus, the ability to listen, to ability to always welcome constructive criticism, and to continuously seek to further your education in a variety of areas.
Unfortunately….No. How cool would that be? However the only advantage a South Florida Private investigator has is that we do not get shot at. There is current pending legislation to increase some of the flexibility for investigators however until there new laws are enacted; private detectives in Florida do not have police powers.
Knowledge is power, and having a Florida private investigator’s license does allow you access to several proprietary databases that are not available to the general public. The freedom of information act allows access to a majority of files and data when requested properly.
Tricky question, and if you ask fifty people you will probably get fifty different answers, but since you are on my site here is my answer. The answer depends upon who you are working for and what their mindset is. Many South Florida Private Investigation agencies only hire investigators with a criminal justice degree. The flip side is there are just as many private investigation agencies in Florida that not only do not require a degree, the prefer it. This way the agency manager and or senior investigator can mold and train their investigators exactly the way they want.
Call around, use word of mouth, complete an internet search for a South Florida Private investigator or detective agency that not only has been in business for a while, but has the ability to teach you. Our South Florida detective agency is multifaceted, and we provide our investigative interns and investigators the ability to work with South Florida personal Injury attorneys, workers’ compensation attorneys, litigation attorneys, and the average citizen to gain interpersonal skills and the ability to extract the necessary information. Our reports are unbiased as the facts speak for themselves.
Our South Florida private detective agency utilizes the coolest and latest technology available. From state of the art computer forensics equipment to body cams, James Bond had nothing on our investigators. Well maybe is car is cooler, but we could be behind you right now completing surveillance and you would never know it. Think about it, what if you received an e-mail last week that you opened and deleted. However that encrypted e-mail was programmed that when deleted it would launch a stealth program sending us an e-mail allowing us to see what you do on your computer. Now we would not do that as cyber terrorism is illegal, but the technology is indeed out there.
That is up to each individual private investigator in South Florida or wherever their detective agency is located. Many investigators do not belong to an association, however there are just as many that belong to two or more. Feel free to go to the associations’ page on my website to see what associations our South Florida private detectives are members of.
Cory T. Knight, one of the leading South Florida Private Investigators is currently finishing his book on what it takes to become a Florida Private Investigator. Not only what transferrable skills are necessary, the book and accompanying discs will provide the customer with a list of appropriate forms to utilize in their practice. These forms have been honed an tapered to meet our needs and we find that a majority of other agencies implement similar forms to operate their businesses. We will cover marketing, business strategy, electronic advertising, staffing needs, and many other tips to succeed in the South Florida private investigation arena. If you are interested in a copy of Mr. Knight’s book, feel free to e-mail Cory by clicking here. The book will be sold for $29.99 and the business forms discs will be sold for $26.95. Thank you for taking the time to read our questions and answers section.
If you have still have any questions about being a Private Investigator or you would like to ask one of our South Florida Private investigators, please feel free to ask on of our South Florida Private Investigators?