Private Investigator Certificates

Are private investigator certifications worth it or not?

Obviously, you need training and you may need certifications in your job as an investigator, but let’s look specifically at whether any individual certificate is worth it or not.

I’ve addressed this before about online private investigator schools, but this week let’s look specifically at certifications. There are a million certifications you can get. All sorts. My concern is for the person who wants to “collect” certifications and enjoys the learning process – a lot like I enjoy the learning process!

But you need to ask if the certification you’re getting (and paying for!) is worth it for you and your career path.

Three Questions

I may be a little too mathematical about this, but you be the judge.

When I wonder if I should get a certain training, certain school, or certification, I have to ask: Is it worth it?

Am I going to make more money having this certification than I’m paying for it?

Am I gonna make more money than it cost me!

(Okay, the 3 questions are essentially all the same, but it’s really important to answer yourself honestly.)

If I’m paying, say, $1,200 for some certification for a loss prevention supervisor, but I don’t work in loss prevention, don’t intend to work in loss prevention, and am not going to work for an employer that requires that certification, then it may be interesting in learning those L.P. things, but it’s not worth it. I will never make the money back that I paid for that certification.

Getting Hired by Clients

But, Larry, clients will want to hire me because I’m “certified”.



If you own your own detective agency, having certifications can lend to your credibility. But…

From a sales perspective, that’s not the first (or even second!) thing a potential client looks for!

People – and clients are people even if they’re a “business” – people tend to buy from someone they know, like and trust.

First they know, like and trust you, and then they look at your credentials.

That’s when they ask, “Is this really someone who’s been there and done that, and can he really do the things he claims he can?” They look at certifications, sure, but they also look at things like previous employment, previous clients you’ve worked for, and recommendations you can give them.

The certifications can play into credibility, but that’s not the first thing potential clients care about.

The Secret

Get this…

The first question potential clients really have is, “Can this investigator solve my problem?”

That’s first. Number one. Not, “Is this guy certified?”

The Certification Exception

There is a major exception you need to know about with certifications.

If it’s required in your area to have a certain amount of continuing education, then a state licensing board approved certification may be worth it to you so you can keep your private investigator license valid!

Not just any training is going to do that. It has to be training that’s been authorized by the state.

Larry, Does Your Training Count for Continuing Education?

Nope. And here’s why…

I do not desire to interact with the government any more than I have to. So, I’m not jumping through the hoops to get my stuff certified.

More importantly, I don’t want people to buy my training material because it’s mandated by the government.

If the government is forcing you to buy it, that’s not a business model that I’m interested in.

I want my training to succeed or fail based on its merits. Over the years, it’s done okay. Many people buy one thing from me and then come back and buy everything from me. That’s a great feeling! When that happens, I know it’s because the training is good and not because the government’s forcing them to buy more training.

Maybe the Most Important Lesson

This will make everything easier for you when you’re trying to decide whether or not to get a certification.

Start with the end in mind.

Set goals. Know your goals and move towards your goals.

If a certification is expensive and not going to move you toward your goal, I’d say it’s a pretty solid pass.

But you can only determine that if you have and know your goal!

What about you?

If you have other ideas about how to evaluate whether a certification is worthwhile or not, please drop it in the comments.

In the meantime, remember: Do the right thing, even if it’s the hard thing.

Committed to your success and safety,
Larry Kaye, P.I.

P.S. – Want more solid info like this? Then don’t miss my special report titled… If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it right here…

Get Instant Access to Your FREE Private Investigator Report!

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A Loss Prevention Dirty Trick

For my brothers and sisters working as loss prevention officers, allow me to share with you this retail loss prevention tip for catching a shoplifter or at least gathering enough information for a future prosecution and (at the very least) making the theft cost them more than they got!

The Trick

The key here is to think about what’s most important to the shoplifter and denying them that in a safe, legal and ethical manner.

In this weeks training we see two thieves, who commit strong-arm robbery by using force to steal items, but when they are approached by loss prevention, it became clear to them the number one thing they want is to get away, but then… their attention tuns directly to recovering their purse.

Only then do they resume the theft/robbery.

What to Consider

So… what if the Loss Prevention Officer had done nothing more than hang onto the purse?

1. It could have escalated the violence.

That means being prepared for that and deciding if it’s worth hanging onto the evidence.

2. The thieves would have been delayed trying to recover the purse allowing more time for the police to arrive.

3. The would have lost their purse and with it surrendered their identities.

4. If their phone was in the purse, well… the theft to gain a few hundred dollars in merchandise (fenced at 50 cents on the dollar – at most!) they would have “paid” a few hundred dollars in “phone” rather than cash.

Just food for thought from someone whose been there and done that.

Of course, don’t forget, you don’t have to approach them at all. It may be hard to let them go, but you must weigh the cost to you, the store, the employees and customers before you proceed. Just sayin’.

Maybe you just pull out your phone and you call the cops.

And always remember: Do the right thing even if its the hard thing.

Committed to your success and safety,
Larry Kaye, P.I.

P.S. – And, of course, don’t miss my special report titled… If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it right here…

Get Instant Access to Your FREE Private Investigator Report!

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The description is a little wrong on your B.O.L.O.

For my brothers and sisters working as security guards, this happens a lot: a “be on the lookout” is put out over the walkie-talkie or you get a phone call from your supervisor and you get a description of the person or the vehicle, but the thing you want to keep in mind is frequently those descriptions are a little bit off.

Let me give you an example from real life.

There was a time when I was working and I had access to remote cameras. Part of my job was to use those cameras for discovering crime. I was monitoring the police radio and a call went out that one of those dollar type stores was robbed at knife point.

Those stores are getting stolen from constantly, all day, every day. But, this call went out as a robbery.

The reason was, three people had tried to take some merchandise. The clerk at the store confronted them and one of the people pulled a knife and said, “We’re leaving” or words to that affect. Then they took the merchandise and left.

The employee, of course, immediately called the police and they put out a description on the radio.

Here’s the BOLO that went out:

It was three people. One was a man dressed like a woman who had pulled a knife on the clerk. They got into a Nissan Ultama Maximum with dealer tags on it.


There’s no such thing as a Nissan Ultama Maximum.

And remember, “dealer tags” are those metal license plates dealers put on cars when you’re taking a test drive.

That’s the description we had.


Pretty soon afterwards one of the officers on the precinct said he knew who the suspect was. The officer said the man dressed as a woman is actually a prostitute. He gave the suspect’s name so the other officers would know who they’re looking for.

As soon as I hear this, I figure, heck, I know where the hooker strolls are so I start looking around on the different area cameras. After checking out two or three corners and coming up blank, I figured it was unlikely I would find the suspect.

If you think about it, the suspect just got paid. He just got a payday from stealing things. When you get paid, you don’t rush off and go to work. And, of course, neither did this guy. That’s why I didn’t find him on the prostitution corners.

I started looking other places, almost not even for the suspects, and at one typical dope lot where people sit around, drinking, selling and smoking dope all day, I saw a car pull up.

It was a white Nissan Maxima. And while it didn’t have a “dealer tag” on it, it did have a paper “temporary tag” (the kind that’s issued when you first buy a car so you can drive it for thirty days).

Is this the suspect?

I really couldn’t tell if these were the suspects or not.

I didn’t see a man wearing a dress, that’s for sure, but the description was close to the BOLO.

It was sort of in the vicinity, around illegal activity and it was a Nissan.

So, I called the police department radio room, and told them what I had.

I had this Nissan Maxima. It had a temporary tag. I gave them the tag number. I told them there were at least two people with the vehicle and there might be a third person in the backseat.

I said, “It’s not anything I’m concerned about, but if you guys want it, there it is”.

I hung up and within a few minutes, three police cruisers arrive.

At this point, I’m really hoping I didn’t send the police on a wild goose chase and had made the right call on this. Otherwise, it’s just super awkward and uncomfortable. I mean, this is a dope spot. There are drug sales all day long so everybody there knows the cops and the cops know all those people. But, still… I didn’t want to cause problems if I was wrong!

It’s not offensive that the police would show up. But three cruisers at the same time conducting a felony stop rather than just driving by is a little bit unusual there.

It was only a matter of moments before the cops brought the driver and the passenger back to the car. Then, out of the back seat they pulled a man in a dress!

Right away, I knew I had the right car and the police were very quickly able to make an arrest on this armed robber.

Here’s What Happened

There’s nothing special about what I did.

If I hadn’t made the call, this case would have been passed to a police detective, they would’ve made the case differently using witness statements. They wouldn’t have had the physical evidence from the theft or the knife. But they could have made an arrest if they wanted to.

However, with my call, the police had the stolen merchandise and the weapon. That kind of nice and makes for a very solid case.

Plus, everybody goes to jail right on the spot. That’s a good precedent to set so they think twice the next time they steal… and there will be a next time.

The Lesson

The point is, if I had dismissed the suspects because they didn’t “exactly” match the BOLO, there wouldn’t have been the arrests.

So when you see something suspicious, it’s not necessarily “does this match exactly”, but more of a who-does-this-remind-me-of type of thing.


Notice I’m not saying anything about getting involved yourself!

Yes, I have written the book called, How To Make a Citizen’s Arrest, and there are circumstances where you may feel compelled to do that and, while in this case I was off-site, even if I had been sitting across the street, I would never ever have tried to make a citizen’s arrest under those conditions!

Forget about the danger for a moment. It’s just so completely unnecessary to make a citizen’s arrest! Just pull out your phone and you call the cops. It’s that easy!

Committed to your success and safety,
Larry Kaye, P.I.

P.S. – And, of course, don’t miss my special report titled… If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it right here…

Get Instant Access to Your FREE Private Investigator Report!

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Evidence vs Proof

Many times – and you’ll see this with domestic/infidelity cases a lot – the woman will hire you because she wants proof that her husband is cheating.

You really need to manage the expectations of your (potential) client.

What is she going to consider proof?

Here’s the thing. You’re going to go out and you’re going to get video. You’re going to get evidence of cheating or infidelity. You might catch him going into a strip club. You might record him going to the condo of his ex-girlfriend rather than going to work on the weekend like he’s told his wife.

When you bring this video to your client, to the wife, is she going to accept it as, “proof”?

She may have expected more! She may have expected to see video of him sitting on her couch making out! (That’s video, by the way, you will never get.)

Plus, he’ll have an excuse. He will have a “reason”.

He’ll say he was in that strip club because it was Dave’s bachelor party and he knew would upset her so he kept it from her to protect her! And he’ll insist nothing happened. That he was a gentleman in there.

Even being over at a girlfriend’s house, condo, or apartment, he’s going to say, “I knew it would upset you. That’s why I didn’t tell you. She was getting smacked around by her boyfriend. She didn’t have anybody else she could call. I just went over there to help her move her stuff out. That was all there was to it.”

He’s going to have explanations for whatever evidence you bring to your client. So both you and your client need to understand it’s “evidence” of cheating. It’s not the “proof” your client may think she’ paying for!

Your client need s to understand, you’re never going to get the stuff she sees on TV like the couple inside an apartment. You may be fortunate, on a case or two, to catch a couple in a public park, kissing or that type of thing. But, the reality is, you’re going to bring back evidence of cheating (not “proof”) and you client needs to understand that before (before!) she hires you.

You need to make sure that your client understands what you’re going to be able to bring to her, what you’re not going to be able to bring to her, and manage those expectations.

Law Firm Clients

You get this with law firms as well, but not so much.

Generally, law firms are excellent clients because they’ve done this so many times, as opposed to a domestic and infidelity case where this is a one-off type thing for them.

With a law office, the attorneys will tell you what they need from you. If not, you should ask. “What are you going to be happy with? What’s the evidence that you need?”

Evidence versus proof. Know the difference and set the expectations of your client.

Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye,
Private Investigator

P.S. – And, of course, don’t miss my special report titled… If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it right here…

Get Instant Access to Your FREE Private Investigator Report!

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Crack Deal Surveillance Video

Just a quickie video this week showing an example of surveillance video catching a crack deal in progress shot by Private Investigator Larry Kaye who is the course creator and instructor of The Investigator’s Ultimate Guide to Surveillance.

Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye,
Private Investigator

P.S. – And, of course, don’t miss my special report titled… If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it right here…

Get Instant Access to Your FREE Private Investigator Report!

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