How to become a detective in France?

Becoming a Private Detective in France: Everything You Need to Know

Becoming a private detective means entering a passionate profession. Also known as a “private research agent,” its strength lies in its versatility. To gain expertise, a study path can be considered, whether in initial or ongoing training. Once trained, the investigator chooses to work as an employee or independently. Their experience and demeanor enable them to be effective in their strategies and establish themselves as a private investigator.

Educational Path to Become a Private Detective

Beforehand, the individual must hold a high school diploma, possess a driver’s license with access to a vehicle, and have a clean criminal record.

As an Employee

It is possible to start a career as an investigator as an employee of a specialized agency. To obtain this status, one must hold a Professional Qualification Certificate (CQP) of the “employee detective” type. The CQPs must be registered in the National Directory of Professional Certifications (RNCP). There are two private organizations that offer a qualifying paid training:

  • The Higher School of Private Investigation Agents (ESARP) in Paris
  • The Institute for Training Investigation Agents (IFAR) in Montpellier

As an Independent

Two higher education establishments offer a professional license:

  • The University of Nîmes, with the Private Research Agent license
  • The University Paris-Panthéon-Assas in the capital, with the Property and Personal Security license (legal activity pathway, director of private investigations)

It is worth noting that IFAR and ESARP offer a title of Manager of Investigations and Private Research Operations. These three options are accessible with an entry level of BAC +2. They allow the student to become a self-employed private detective or even the director of an agency.

Pursuing Recognition of Prior Learning (VAE)

Police officers, gendarmes, and military personnel can put together a VAE dossier to present to IFAR. It is interesting to start with these professions as they allow gaining field experience and becoming familiar with procedures and institutions.

Embodying the Role of a Private Detective

Approval from the National Council for Private Security Activities (CNAPS)

Before choosing training to become a private detective or following completion of the professional license, it is necessary to apply for approval from CNAPS. The organization issues a professional card, stating that the investigator is qualified to conduct Private Research Activities (ARP). Valid for 5 years, it serves as a means to ensure ongoing training because renewing it requires attending a Maintenance and Updating of Skills (MAC) course. This card becomes mandatory for employees and independents as of November 26, 2022, according to decree n° 2022-209 of February 18, 2022.

Practicing the Profession

The missions of an employee private detective are assigned by the agency to which they have applied. As for the self-employed investigator, it is useful to conduct a market study in the targeted geographic area to assess the competition. All administrative procedures must then be initiated to obtain the status of a self-employed worker. Afterward, the detective finds their own clients or can collaborate with one or more agencies. The business may evolve if the detective wishes to have employees and become a cabinet director.

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