Becoming a PI
The PPIAC has always assumed a special responsibility to meet the highest business, professional, and ethical standards for private investigators. Membership in our association provides access to a continuing program of education, contact with skilled and professional investigators willing to help newcomers, and a critical forum for exchanging opinions and ideas for the betterment of our profession.
What kind of background is best?
No single type of personal, business, or professional experience or education qualifies someone to become a private investigator. Our membership includes people from many walks of life — the law, law enforcement, journalism, insurance, even factory jobs and homemakers. The common denominator among us is a commitment to continual learning, and to do the best, most professional job possible.
Do I need to set up a formal business?
You do not need to have a formal business to be a member of the PPIAC, but the short answer is, yes. Because it’s good business practice, a formal business structure — your choice of the many structures available — should be a key part of an investigator’s overall business plan.
A business based on the registration of a trade name with the Colorado Secretary of State — also referred to as an assumed name or fictitious business name — is a simple alternative. Other options to explore are the various forms of corporations and partnerships that one can establish through the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Each type of corporation or partnership has its advantages and disadvantages.
In most cases, the necessary forms and instructions are available online from the appropriate state agencies.
Do I need some type of insurance?
Insurance is not a requirement for membership in the PPIAC, but liability insurance is a sensible business practice. State law does cover various aspects of business life that do require insurance. Workers compensation for employees is one type, though you can get a waiver if you are the sole proprietor and only employee.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment describes the requirement as follows:
“All public and private employers in Colorado, with limited exceptions, must provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees if one or more full or part-time persons are employed, including family members. A person hired to perform services for pay is presumed by law to be an employee. This includes all persons elected or appointed to public sector service and all persons appointed or hired by private employers for remuneration.”
Already mentioned as not required, but essential nevertheless, is coverage for errors and omissions, commonly known as liability insurance. Some potential clients, particularly insurance companies, may even ask to be specifically named on your liability insurance certificate before hiring you to work for them. No insurance — no work.
Where can I obtain more information?
The best starting point is to attend one of our PPIAC meetings, which we hold on the first Wednesday of each month except during the month when we hold our annual conference. Everyone is welcome. We would be glad to see you!
You will have a good look at our monthly training and a great chance to meet some of the professional investigators who can guide you in the right direction. The meetings start at 6:30 p.m., but we always have a get-together beginning at 5:30 pm. Members and guests are welcome to attend. Our board meets at 4:30 p.m.
Each year, usually during the first week of October, the PPIAC sponsors an annual conference that focuses on education and training.