The state of Alaska has no licensing or training requirements for private investigators other than a standard business license. However, the cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks both require special licenses. Therefore, the steps for becoming a private investigator who can work anywhere in Alaska are as follows:
Private detectives perform a wide variety of functions, including finding facts, analyzing legal, financial and personal information, tracing missing persons, verifying backgrounds, investigating computer crime and protecting celebrities.
Private investigators in Alaska face unique challenges due to the cold temperatures and light cycles that include both 24-hour-stretches of daylight and 24-hour periods of darkness. In addition, as the least densely populated state in the nation, small towns are far apart and often have poor road access.
Step 1. Obtain an Alaska Business License
Anyone can procure a business license for an annual fee of $50.00 ($25.00 for senior citizens). Business names should be selected carefully to avoid time wasted in re-applying because of duplication.
Applicants can file online and print out the license by going to the AK Department of Commerce website and clicking on license applications. Applications also can be mailed, along with the fee, to State of Alaska, Business Licensing Section, P.O. Box 110806, Juneau, AK 99811-0806. The telephone number is 907-465-2550.
Step 2. Meet Requirements for a Private Investigator’s License in Fairbanks
There are very strict requirements for being granted a private investigator’s license in Fairbanks, Alaska’s second largest city. The license requirements are as follows:
- U.S. Citizen
- Good Moral Character
- No Felony Convictions
- Valid Alaska Driver’s License
- Post $10,000 Surety Bond
- Criminal Background Check
There is a $100 non-refundable application fee as well as a $400 license fee (good for two years). Mail application to the City of Fairbanks, City Clerk’s Office, 800 Cushman Street, Fairbanks, AK 99701-4615; telephone: 907-459-6715. It is noted that Fairbanks issued 21 private investigator (PI) licenses in 2011.
Step 3. Meet Anchorage Licensing Requirements
The requirements for procuring a PI license in Anchorage are not as stringent as those for Fairbanks. They include:
- At Least 18 Years Old
- Detailed Work History
- Current Alaska business License
- $100 Fee (two-year license)
- Application Must be Notarized
Notarized application and fee must be mailed or hand delivered to the Department of Public Safety, 5700 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99507. This department will conduct a background check and then FAX the entire package to the city clerk’s office at 622 West 6th Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99501. The license will be mailed to applicant.
Step 4. Obtain the Education Needed to do the Job in Alaska
Although there are no specific educational requirements for private investigators in Alaska, the job demands knowledge of the criminal justice system, courtroom procedures, relevant laws, etc. Individuals who become PIs after years working as police officers, military police or in similar occupations, already have much of the necessary training. However, newcomers would be wise to earn an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. There are four schools in Alaska that have criminal justice programs from which approximately 57 students graduate each year.
There also are a number of both on-campus and online schools in the U.S. that offer a Certificate in Private Investigation. Classes are usually taught by experienced, working PIs. Programs vary from 15 to 40 credit hours. Subject matter covered includes:
- Criminal Investigations
- Civil Investigation
- Discovery/Document Review
- Investigative Techniques
- Interview Techniques
- Courtroom Testimony
- Report Writing
- The Business of Investigation
- Internet Research
- Investigative Surveillance
- Ethical Behavior
Step 5. Go to Work for an Agency in Alaska or as an Independent Contractor
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupational outlook for private detectives is good. Jobs in this field are expected to increase 21 percent by 2020. PIs can work for themselves or for an investigative firm. It’s a good idea for new PIs to spend a few years working for an established agency before venturing out on their own. PIs also have the option to specialize in one aspect of the business, such as locating missing persons, doing background checks for businesses or finding evidence for trial attorneys.
Private Investigator Salary Information for Alaska
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the mean annual salary of PIs in Alaska is $63,810.
To become a private investigator in Alaska can be lucrative, since the state had the third highest average salary in the country in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The average annual salary in the state was $63,810 with those in the top 10th percentile of the profession earning an average of $79,660 a year.
110 individuals were employed as private investigators in Alaska in 2012, according to the BLS. This employment included PIs in a range of age groups. According the state’s Department of Labor, approximately 65% of the PIs working in the state were under 45 years old in 2011.
Becoming a private investigator in Alaska is relatively straightforward, since most locations in the state do not require a special license to be a private investigator. Only a business license is required for those working independently, and this is relatively easy to obtain.
The exceptions to the state-wide lack of licensing requirements include Anchorage and Fairbanks, which do require private investigators in these cities to have a PI license. Fairbanks requires a background check and liability insurance in the form of possession of a $10,000 surety bond. Anchorage also requires that applicants undergo a background check. There were 21 licensed private investigators operating in the city in 2011.
Options for PIs in Alaska include working for detective agencies or striking out on their own as independent private investigators. The job situation in Alaska is better for the self-employed, since there were 57 people registered in the state looking for PI jobs in 2011. Only two positions were posted. As with most fields, though, there are often more jobs available than what are listed publicly, so it may pay to check with existing detective agencies for positions.
Private investigators frequently network with other investigative professionals to share information. In Alaska, this can be done through the Alaska Investigators Association.
The table below shows salary data for private investigators in Alaska as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.