At Covert Results we believe that 78% of the population would like to be a private investigator. There’s something about spying on people and finding the truth that just gets the blood pumping! We can speak from experience and tell you, it’s not for everyone. Does that mean you have to be a 30 year veteran police detective to be a good private investigator…absolutely not. We believe that conducting investigations comes natural and at Covert Results we have strongly vetted our investigators to ensure the client receives the best! If you have ever thought about becoming a private investigator, below is a helpful guide to get going in the right direction. Our CEO will tell you…make sure you do your research! 

Becoming a licensed Private Investigator in Tennessee does not require investigative experience or education. The state of Tennessee will issue you a Tennessee Private Investigator license if you meet the basic requirements and take a government licensing test. When you get your Tennessee PI license, you’ll be expected to perform investigations fit for Private the industry, but first you need to know where to start.  

Private investigators in Tennessee are licensed by the Department of Commerce and Insurance’s (TCDI), Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission.  The Commission defines a private investigator as someone who accepts employment or engages in the business to furnish or obtain information having to do with one or more of the following:

  • Wrongs or crimes threatened or done against the U.S. or any state or territory

  • The activity, acts, affiliations, associations, business, conduct, credibility, efficiency, habits, honesty, identity, knowledge, loyalty, occupation, reputations, transactions, trustworthiness, or whereabouts of any person

  • The disposition, location, or recovery of stolen or lost property

  • The responsibility or cause of accidents, damages, fires, injuries, or losses to people or property

  • The securing of evidence to be used before any official body

You must also meet certain requirements to obtain your Tennessee issued private investigator license. They include the following:

  • Be at least 21 years old

  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien

  • Not have been declared incompetent by reason of mental disease or defect (unless you have subsequently been declared competent)

  • License your own company or be affiliated with a licensed PI company in the state

  • Be of good moral character

  • Not suffer from narcotics addiction or dependence or habitual drunkenness

  • Not have practiced deceit, fraud, or misrepresentation

Next, it is necessary to obtain the necessary education and training. To be a proficient investigator requires superb analytical skills. It is recommended to obtain formal education in criminal justice as one way to acquire these abilities. You can receive an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from schools that are found in a number of cities within the state. Although the state of Tennessee does not specify any particular degree to become a licensed PI, you would benefit from obtaining training in this field. Many former/retired police officers, detectives, or even military personnel use their training and experience to become skilled private investigators. This will help you be a desirable candidate and is particularly important, since it is common for new PIs to obtain their license as an employee of an agency.

After, you must start your test preparation for the Tennessee private investigator examination. This should commence by studying The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating. The two hour exam has 50 questions that are drawn from this book. To be able to register for this exam you will need to do the following: 

  • Go to for the PSI Online Exam Payment– Create account and Sign in–

  • Click Government/State Licensing Agencies–Select Jurisdiction (Tennessee)–Select Private Investigator/Polygraph–Select License name—TN Private Investigator

  • Download PDF file- Candidate Information Bulletin

  • Pay online fee $125

  • Schedule Test date-This is conducted at an onsite secure testing facility

On the day of the exam you will need to bring two (2) forms of identification, arrive at PSI examination site, complete the 2 hour exam, receive a passing score of at least 70%, and add your results to your License Application. The State also requires you to get your fingerprints done. You will need to go to to sign up for your digital fingerprinting. Be sure to schedule a new appointment under the Department of Commerce and Insurance and select Private Investigators. The facility will send your prints directly to the Department of Commerce and Insurance. 

After you have received your passing score and have scheduled your fingerprints, you need to submit your application to the state of Tennessee.  You will need to provide the following items:

  • Application (

  • Fees:

    • Application:  $150

    • Fingerprint processing:  $60

    • License:  $100

  • Fingerprint cards (3 sets) or a photocopy of your electronic submission receipt

  • Photographs (2 color passport style)

  • Letter of endorsement/affiliation from a Private Investigation Company

  • Information on criminal arrests, charges, and convictions

You can also apply as an Apprentice.  You will need to have a written notice from the owner or qualifying agent of a licensed company that he or she intends to sponsor you.  This period is limited to six months, and you can only apply once. 

Finally, you will be required to bring your Private Investigator license to an umbrella company. After you are affiliated with an umbrella company you will be able to start your career as a private investigator. On July 1, 2021 the State of Tennessee removed the “affiliate’ status and now an investigator can pass the exam and work cases on their own. However, if you decide to work with/for an established Private Investigations Company, then you will still need an affiliation letter provided by the company. If you decide to go out on your own then we suggest you form your own company and obtain the proper insurance.

Saving lives and reuniting families isn’t exactly all in a day’s work for PIs, but you would be hard pressed to come up with any other profession outside of law enforcement and emergency services that would even present an opportunity to do profoundly important work like this. Along with the freedom this line of work gives you, a chance to crack cases and solve crimes that have a real impact on people’s lives is a big part of the appeal of a career in private investigations. Maybe this could be the job for you!

This blog is strictly for information purposes and is not to mislead anyone to believe that Covert Results is seeking to hire investigators at this time. Any additional information can be found on the Tennessee Government website here. If you would like to submit your resume or CV, please email to A member from our interview panel or the CEO will reply to your request. If you’d like to attend a monthly zoom for information on how to become an investigator please click here and fill out the form and advise you’d like to sign up for the Zoom!   615-861-1680

Private Investigations. Professional Security. Proven Results!