What Does it Take to Be a Private Investigator?

It’s a safe assumption that when you were a kid you played around trying to solve mysteries. You may have owned a spy kit complete with a magnifying glass. As an adult, it’s possible you’ve watched one of the countless TV show options involving solving crimes, mysteries, etc. So, has the thought crossed your mind about what it really takes to be a private investigator? Ken Shull, as a private investigator in Knoxville, has run through the paces. He jumps in the trenches of real-life to gather truths for his clients.

Becoming a Private Investigator (PI) is not as simple as deciding one day you want to dig into people’s lives to figure out what’s going on for them. There are certain requirements and thresholds that need to be satisfied before becoming a private investigator.

Minimum Qualifications

If you’re interested in being (or hiring) a private investigator in Knoxville, be aware that the investigator must meet some minimum criteria.

  • This isn’t a kid’s game. PIs need to be at least 21 years old.
  • You must have US citizenship or be a legal alien.
  • A private investigator in Knoxville (Tennessee specifically) requires you have affiliation with a licensed PI or own a license yourself. You would need to perform due diligence to determine exactly what you need to do for the licensing process.
  • Make sure your moral character is stellar and be prepared to pass a background check. Completing a background check assures that you’re working with a clean history.
  • Drug and alcohol dependence or committing fraud will prevent you from obtaining licensure as a private investigator in Knoxville.

Training and Skills

If you check off all the boxes above, there are steps you’d need to take to become a PI. A good first step would be enrolling in courses to prepare yourself. After absorbing the information on all the facets of the field, be prepared for a written exam to prove your ability to pursue a career in investigative work. A knowledge check will ensure you’re prepared to operate successfully.

To become a private investigator in Knoxville, possessing particular skills will snuggly fit you in with the job. Some of the skills are inherent in nature… ones that are simply a part of who you are. Think about yourself and ask if you are…

  • A good listener? Clients are going to want to talk and you’ll want to listen. They’ll have much to say when enlisting your help and you’ll need to be there to absorb all they have to offer.
  • Empathy spins off of good listening. It’s helpful to get on the ground level with your clients and truly understand their plight. Feeling for them may motivate you to want to work for them.
  • A critical thinker? Nothing in life is straightforward and working as a PI will prove that. Being able to use information from various sources and creatively piece everything together will help lead you to success.
  • Tenacious? Just like nothing in life is straightforward, nothing is easy, either. This profession requires a tough skin and a tenacious attitude. Staying the course is critical in the field even if you have to claw around and dig your heels into the dirt.
  • Able to maintain confidentiality? This one should be pretty obvious. Anything you discover needs to be treated with the utmost respect and kept private only to the relevant parties.

Polygraph Examiner?

If you want to include being a polygraph examiner to your resume, be prepared. This isn’t an easy task. Ken Shull, with Kendall Investigations is the only person in the entire US that has obtained a Master’s of Science Degree in polygraphy. Earning a degree in this field is required to run polygraphing testing.

To become an examiner, extensive education must take place via a polygraph school. Completing fieldwork is another element that must be satisfied to earn a degree. After that, certification, licensing examinations, and training follow. If you’re looking for an expert with the highest degree, reach out to Kendall Investigations.

Last Steps

If you perform all your research and undergo the necessary education, there are final steps to take to obtain your license. You can check out the TN Department of Commerce site to dig into the exact details necessary to be licensed as a private investigator in Knoxville. You can even find a link to learn more about polygraph examination requirements. Ken Shull, with Kendall Investigations worked his way through all the necessary paths to become a successful private investigator in Knoxville.

As you can tell, being a PI contains many facets that need to be navigated before you become one. Kendall Investigations successfully satisfied all of the requirements necessary for private investigative work. It’s fun to imagine going through the wringer to find information for a questioning client, but this isn’t a simple profession. If you need a private investigator in Knoxville, Ken Shull would be happy to showcase his experience and you’ll quickly notice he’s achieved all of the demanding thresholds to establish success.

Uncover the truth!


Ken Shull served as a Special Agent with the FBI for almost 25 years and was head of the FBI Polygraph program until his retirement in 2001. At that time he set up the Kendall Investigations practice as a private investigator in Knoxville, TN offering Polygraph services, private investigations, and security guards. Ken is a member of the American Polygraph Association and The American Association of Police Polygraphists.

The Truth is Still the Truth Even if No One Believes it, A Lie is Still a Lie Even if Everyone Believes it.