Private detectives in Nebraska are professionals who are licensed to engage in a private detective business (sole proprietor) without the assistance of any employee, while plain-clothes investigators are licensed professionals who work as employees on behalf of a private detective agency.
To become a licensed private detective or plain-clothes investigator in Nebraska, you must complete a number of steps:
The Licensing Division of Nebraska’s Secretary of State regulates and licenses private detectives, private detective agencies, and plain clothes investigators in the State of Nebraska, from Omaha and Lincoln to Bellevue and Grand Island.
Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements for Licensure in Nebraska
Before you can engage in any private detective business in Nebraska, you must ensure you meet minimum requirements for licensure, which include being at least 21 years old.
You may not apply for a private investigator license in the State of Nebraska if you engage in debt collection or are employed by a debt collector or have been convicted of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude.
Step 2. Meet Nebraska Education and Experience Requirements
To qualify for a private investigator license or private investigator agency license, you must show proof of the completion of one of the following:
- A minimum of 3,000 hours of investigative experience
- A minimum of 2,500 hours of investigative experience AND an associate’s degree in criminal justice (or a closely related field) from an accredited college or university
- A minimum of 2,000 hours of investigative experience AND a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice (or a closely related field) from an accredited college or university
Investigative experience is defined as working in an investigative capacity for a city, county, state or federal law enforcement agency or private investigation company.
Note: Plain-clothes investigators do NOT have to meet education or experience requirements to qualify for licensure.
Step 3. Apply for your Nebraska State License
Once you have ensured you meet the minimum qualification for licensure and can provide documentation of the completion of your experience and education qualifications, you can apply for a license by completing the Application for Plain Clothes or Private Detective License or an Application for Private Detective Agency.
Along with your completed application, you must provide the following documents to the Division of Licensing:
- Licensing Fee
- Private Detective Agency: $100 + $38 (license plus background check)
- Private Detective: $50 + $38
- Plain Clothes Investigator: $25 + $38
- Two fingerprint cards (for a national criminal history record check through the FBI), which can be completed at any local law enforcement office
- A signed and authorized Release of Information form
- Two passport-sized photographs
- Documentation showing proof of experience/education (not required for plain clothes investigators)
- Proof of $10,000 surety bond (not required for plain clothes investigators)
Mail the completed application and related documentation/fee to:
Division of Licensing
P.O. Box 94608
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509
Step 4. Take the Nebraska Examination for Private Investigator License
Once the Division of Licensing has reviewed and approved your application (this can take up to 90 days), you will receive notification that you are eligible to take the examination, which includes information related to the Nebraska Private Detective Act.
Testing for all eligible candidates takes place on the third Wednesday of each month at 10:00 AM at the Nebraska State Capitol Building, Room 1305, in Lincoln. You must contact the Secretary of State’s Office at 402-471-2385 to notify them when you will be taking the examination.
You must score at least 80 percent on the examination to pass. If you fail the exam, you must wait at least 21 days to retake it.
Step 5. Getting to Work and Keeping your Nebraska License Current
Upon passing the examination for licensure, you will be licensed in the State of Nebraska. Private investigators may find a wealth of information and networking opportunities by seeking membership in a professional association, such as the Nebraska Association of Private Investigators.
The Nebraska Secretary of State also maintains a list of licensed private detectives and private detective agencies in Nebraska.
All licenses (private detective, plain clothes investigator, and private detective agency) must be renewed by June 30th of every even-numbered year, and a Renewal Application for Plain Clothes or Private Detective License or Renewal for Private Detective Agency must be completed. Renewal fees are as follows:
- Private Detective: $50
- Private Detective Agency: $100
- Plain Clothes Investigator: $25