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By Dave Amis

how to become a pi

This article will dive deeper into developing your plans on how to become a Texas Private Investigator.  It answers the question, “How to become a PI?”

Let’s review one thing first – any serious investigator is going to be good at SURVEILLANCE or OSINT or both.  So consider starting there.  There are opportunities to develop these skills with online training courses such as at,, and many other places., my company, has specially-designed starter courses for new PI’s.  Find something that works for you and get started. 

Now let’s think about your long-term plans to become a PI.  The STRIDER TRAPEZOID shows that, aside from the two foundational skills of SURVEILLANCE AND OSINT, a Private Investigator needs an investigative specialty.  Whatever that is, be it criminal or insurance fraud or missing persons, there are several skills needed for success.   

investigator skill set with specialty

How to become the PI that you want to be?  I recommend attending TALI conferences and meeting PI’s who are doing what you want to do, then talking to them.  Ask them:

  1. How did you get into this niche? (insurance fraud, infidelity, criminal defense, etc.)
  2. What skills do you think are necessary for success?
  3. How would you recommend I get started?

Obviously, one can learn a lot online but there’s nothing like talking to someone who is actually doing it.  TALI has three conferences per year.  In case you don’t know, “TALI” stands for the “Texas Association of Licensed Investigators”.  See them at Tell them I said hello.

Let me share my specialty and the skills that helped me to achieve success as an example.  I specialize in financial crimes.  These include commercial fraud, probate fraud, major theft, trust fraud, estate fraud, investment fraud, and executive malfeasance. Here’s a STRIDER TRAPEZOID that shows my path.  Keep in mind that I know other financial investigators with completely different paths.  I know one who is currently taking a financial statements course which I think will help her be a serious financial crimes PI.

pi investigator skill set financial crimes

“C.F.E.” stands for “Certified Fraud Examiner”.  It’s a useful certification for those in my field.  In addition, I have over 15 years of international financial experience including at Deutsche Bank.  Before I became a PI, I was often sent to address claims of fraud or theft in companies owned by my clients.  Note that I didn’t start until I was 48.  You can be as young as 18 when you get started or as old as 80.  

Let’s look at the path of a criminal investigator next.  This PI started as a cop, then became a detective, eventually worked homicide as a “second” and then did homicide investigations on his own.  He is available to represent families and individuals in major cases including murder, involuntary manslaughter, cold case murder, negligent homicide, and more.  You’ll probably meet him if you attend a Strider Private Investigator course as he is one of the instructors. 

investigator skill set homicide investigations

Depending on the specialty you desire, build a diagram like the ones we have shared here for the kind of Private Investigator you want to become.  You might have two or three specialties before it’s all over.  

In conclusion, if you’ve been wondering how to become a Private Investigator, this is how you do it.  Chart your path, make a plan, and get to it!  It’s all do-able. 

I wish you well.