Institute of Professional Investigators


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Level 3 Professional Investigator Course FAQs

Q. Is this ProQual course an approved one for investigator licensing?

A. The SIA has yet to licence private investigators, and unless and until they do so there can be no ‘approved’ course or qualification. This is for the simple reason that until there IS a licence, it would be strange to dictate what competency applied. However, we can state that SIA licence qualifications for other sectors have been set at Level 3, and we can further state that the content of this course exceeds the competencies identified by the SIA during the consultations that gave rise to a set of 5 competencies published by the SIA in 2007.

We can therefore say with confidence that in the event of licensing, this qualification should meet the criteria.


Q. How long does it take to complete the course?

A. The course is based on an estimation that classroom learning for the material (plus some self-study) would take 39 hours. For this reason, the Institute considers that three months is a reasonable length of time for completion, while 6 months may be needed by those in full time employment. This ‘limit’ is reflected in our Terms and Conditions .


Q. Do you offer the facility to pay the course fee in instalments?

A. Currently we do not offer the ability to pay in instalments.


Q. What is the Assessment Process?

A. The Assessment Process involves submission of a workbook and a competence interview by an Institute Trainer.


Q. I have experience in investigation – do I have to do the whole course?

Provable Accredited Prior Learning (APL) can result in the student being granted an exemption from all or part of the course, but not the assessment process. APL is assessed by the trainers through an interview conducted via Skype, or face-to-face if logistically feasible. If the trainer accepts the APL, the student will still have to submit the evidence of competency through the workbook process, but may not have to pay the full course fee – there is a £75 registration/admin fee payable in all cases. If there is a learning gap, an offer can be made to provide specific training in that area at a cost to be agreed, but which is likely to be on a pro-rata basis (e.g. full course divided by whole number of modules, multiplied by required modules). The Institute reserves the right to assess student fees in this event.


Q. I hear I have to provide a Surveillance Plan as part of the qualification assessment. How will I do this?

A. You will learn how to plan an investigation in the first Part of the course (Major Investigation Planning) and will be taught the nature, practice and legalities of surveillance in Part 3. As a result you will combine the knowledge and, using your imagination and experience, you will be able to prepare a plan for a surveillance. It doesn’t have to be extravagant and most people use the example of a small team conducing a surveillance on an insurance claimant. There is an example of a plan in the material, too. The final result will be submitted as part of your Workbook portfolio.


Q. Other courses are cheaper, why pick the Institute’s?

A. The Institute’s course was written and reviewed by qualified investigators, not by someone researching the field and adding their course to those on accountancy, farming, interior decorating and other courses mashed together on their portfolio. It is accredited, which means it is directed towards your obtaining of a formal, recognised qualification; it is not a course sold solely on the basis of a ‘promise of work’ (which is usually a lie and impossible to provide), and ‘access to a network’, which you have even before taking the course – it’s called a members’ directory and we have one you can access now. Or the Yellow Pages. That’s called ‘business’.

Our trainers are qualified to train; they have gone to the effort to demonstrate to others that they know what they are doing. Would you go to a school where the teachers aren’t qualified, you don’t get a proper certificate at the end, and when you DO need a certificate – you have to go to another school and do it all over again?


Q. The SIA hasn’t licensed the investigators yet. Why do I need a formal qualification?

A. Partly because they might. If they do and you’ve paid for an un-accredited course you’ll have to do another. And partly because your future clients will be glad to know that you have been trained, know what you are doing, and aren’t just a member of an internet 'club'.


Q. Can I join the Institute when I pass?

A. Associate Membership of the Institute is available to those who pass the qualification AND who pass our vetting process – a criminal record check (that you provide) and other relevant research, including references from two sources. You will also be informally interviewed at the exam – no pressure…


Q. How long will it be before I get my Manual?

A. Owing to an attempt by some dubious ‘training companies’, the Manual will not be made available for download until two weeks after enrolment. This provides us with the opportunity to protect our Intellectual Property while the student starts the programme based on the information available through the internet itself. This will not compromise your learning in any way. The manual will be available to download from the library.


Q. What work will I get after the Course?

A. Unscrupulous fraudsters will offer ‘guaranteed’ work after completion of their (usually unaccredited) courses. This is a sign of fraud. No-one can guarantee work, because clients can’t guarantee a need for an investigation! These fraudsters may also offer ‘a network of contacts’, and while membership of an organisation like the IPI does create a network, there is another network to which all investigators have access. It’s called The Yellow Pages! The IPI cannot offer work post-qualification – nor can anyone else. However, we are initiating a project called Support a Student which we hope may result in IPI members providing experiential opportunities for IPI students. This is not a guarantee and any contract will be between the Member and the Student.

© IPI 2017.
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