The District of Columbia is an excellent place to become a private investigator. As of 2012, Washington, D.C. had the highest level of employment of private investigators in the country. Over 1,000 PIs were employed in this city in 2012. Their annual median salary was $58,500 with those in the top income bracket earning an average of $86,800.
D.C.’s Department of Employment Services included private investigators in its list of top 40 fastest growing occupations with growth over one hundred jobs in the period from 2001 to 2012. They had a projected job growth rate for private investigators of 3.74%. Projections for the period from 2008 to 2018 predict an increase of 535 jobs, giving a growth rate of 2.67%.
Washington D.C. requires private investigators in the district to be licensed by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. Applicants must be a resident of D.C. and will have to provide their fingerprints to undergo a background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They must not have any felony convictions on their record and will have to obtain insurance coverage in the form of a surety bond.
PIs who wish to be armed in DC must meet the stringent requirements of the district’s police department. There are also specific regulations on the types of firearms that individuals can possess in DC. For instance, magazines that hold over ten rounds of ammunition are prohibited. Firearms must be unloaded when they are being transported in a vehicle.
Private investigators perform a myriad of functions. Some specialize in surveillance—investigating individuals on workman’s compensation to make sure they are injured or investigating cases of potential infidelity by spouses. Others work closely with defense attorneys to help them analyze their cases. Investigating potential investors to ensure that they are reliable is another area of specialty for PIs.
2012 salary data on the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area and its metropolitan division is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Levels of employment, annual, and hourly wages are shown in the table below.