Private investigators, sometimes referred to as private detectives or PIs, find, research and analyze information for attorneys, individuals and businesses. They may be involved in providing personal protection for celebrities, corporate executives and others who feel their safety is impaired. They may provide background profiles for pre-employment verification. They may investigate insurance claims for evidence of fraud, track down missing persons or attempt to prove marital infidelity for divorce cases. Most states require some type of licensing for private investigators. In Alabama, the only license required for private investigators is a business license.
There is no minimum level of education required for an individual to become a private investigator in the state of Alabama or in any other state, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS notes that most private investigators have at least some college, and many have associate's, bachelor's or graduate degrees in criminal justice or police science. Private investigators working in corporate environments may need an advanced degree in a specialized field such as business administration or accounting. The BLS notes that some colleges offer certificate programs in computer forensics that are helpful for PIs working in high-tech investigations.
Most private investigators learn their profession from on-the-job training, according to the BLS. New investigators may be paired with seasoned investigators who can share their experience. The training provided typically depends on the employer; insurance firms may focus their training on fraud, while companies that specialize in divorce investigations may focus on surveillance training. Larger firms may provide young private investigators with formal training in a variety of disciplines. There is no minimum amount of experience required for a private investigator in the state of Alabama to obtain a business license.
A number of professional associations and organizations offer certification programs for private investigators. The National Association of Legal Investigators offers the Certified Legal Investigator (CLI) credential. ASIS International, an organization of security professionals formerly known as the American Society for Industrial Security, offers the CPP credential for Certified Protection Professionals, the PCI credential for Professional Certified Investigators, and the PSP credential for Physical Security Professionals. Certification may provide a standard of professionalism for private investigators, but it is not required for licensing in the state of Alabama.
The only license required of private investigators in the state of Alabama as of 2010 is a business license. According to the Code of Alabama, Title 40, Chapter 12, Section 93, detective agencies operating in the state are required to pay a license tax of $100. If the agency is involved in collections, it must pay an additional license tax of $100.