Requirements by State

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Alabama

Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements for Licensure

Before you can apply for a private investigator license in Alabama, you must verify you meet the minimum requirements for licensure, which include:

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Must have not been declared incompetent by a court or other competent jurisdiction by reason of mental defect or disease
  • Must not have been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude
  • Must not have been convicted of a felony crime

Although Alabama does not have post-secondary education requirements to practice private investigations, many prospective private investigators choose to complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a concentration in investigations or a related major as a way to gain a foundation of knowledge in the field of investigations, and to better prepare for success on the license examination.

Continuing professional development hours, which are required to renew your license every two years, can also be satisfied through college courses in criminal justice. See Step 4 for details on professional development requirements for license renewal

To date, there are more than 34 accredited schools in Alabama that offer criminal justice programs, as well as many online institutions.

Step 2. Pass the Required Examination

As an applicant for a private investigator license in Alabama, you’ll be required to complete an examination administered by the Alabama Private Investigation Board.

The exam is designed to measure competence in the field of private investigations.

The Board schedules the exam to take place twice a year through an independent exam service provider.

If you were currently in practice and held an Alabama business license on the date the current rules went into effect (March 7, 2014) you are eligible for licensure without examination. This exemption is referred to as Licensure by Work Experience. You must apply on or before February 28, 2015 to be allowed to take advantage of this exemption. See license application instructions in Step 3.

Step 3. Apply for an Alabama Private Investigator License

Upon the successful completion of the required examination, you may apply for an Alabama private investigator license by completing an Application by Credential/Examination. Along with a completed application, you must enclose the following documents:

  • Proof of a passing score on a Board-approved examination
  • Proof of Citizenship form and attached document (a copy of your Alabama driver’s license, valid U.S. passport, birth certificate, etc.)
  • A current photograph (meeting the specification set forth within the application)
  • A set of 3 classifiable fingerprint cards and a completed ABI Form 46
  • Affidavit of Applicant form
  • An application fee of $125 and a license fee of $300, both made payable to the APIB

If were providing private investigative services and you held an Alabama business license when the new private investigator rules became effective on March 7, 2014, you qualify for Licensure by work Experience so long as you submit your application by February 28 2015. This makes you exempt from exam requirements, but will require approval of your application all the same. Along with the Application for License by Work Experience (Business Owner), you must enclose all of the above named documents along with a copy of your current Alabama-issued private investigator business license. Your initial license will be dated May 1, 2014 and will remain valid until April 30, 2016.

Private investigators that work as employees or contractors and who qualify under this exemption will submit the Application for License by Work Experience (Employees/Contractors) along with the above named documents.

All applications must be notarized and sent along with the required fees and related documentation, to:

APIB
P.O. Box 241206
Montgomery, AL 36124

Step 4. Maintain your Private Investigator License

The Alabama private investigator license is valid for a period of two years, expiring on April 30 of even-numbered years. To qualify for licensure renewal in Alabama, you must complete a renewal form, pay the renewal fee of $200, and complete at least 16 contact hours (8 in each calendar year), 2 of which must be in ethics.

The units of measure for continuing education contact hours are:

  • 1 contact hour = 50 minutes
  • .05 contact hour = 25 minutes
  • 15 contact hours = 1 academic semester credit hour
  • 10 contact hours = 1 academic quarter credit hour

You may complete continuing education contact hours by:

  • Taking and passing (with a C or better) a college or university course within a criminal justice education program or any course that enhances your “professional growth and development”
  • Membership in professional organizations or participating on boards or committees related to private investigation (may be counted up to 2 hours per renewal period)
  • Completing a self-study course that has been approved by the Alabama Private Investigators Association or the ABIP (may be counted up to 8 hours per renewal period)
  • Preparation and presentation of a lecture (may be counted up to 2 contact hours)
  • Instruction provided by legitimate private investigator associations, including:
    • State and national associations that are properly incorporated and in good standing with the appropriate incorporating body
    • Company training
    • Institutions that provide training for profit
    • Online Internet-based training
    • Individuals and firms that provide training for profit
    • Continuing education approved by the licensure board or Commission for Private Investigators


Private Investigator Salary Information for Alabama

It is relatively easy to become a private investigator in Alabama, since the state does not require a special license for PIs. Those starting a detective agency do need to get a business license and should contact the state’s Department of Revenue.

Private investigators in Alabama earned an average annual salary of $58,320 in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Some PIs earned in the six figures.  For instance, those in the 90th percentile of their salary group earned an average of $109,350 a year.

The Birmingham-Hoover area is an especially lucrative area for private investigators in Alabama.  It had the third highest wages in the country for PIs in a metropolitan area in 2012.  The average annual salary in this city was $77,390 with the top earners averaging $131,800 a year.

Although Alabama doesn’t enforce state-wide PI licensing requirements, certain cities, such as Birmingham and Mobile, do enforce municipal licensing standards for anybody involved in private detective work within city limits.  Becoming licensed in these cities starts by contacting the local Police Chief to find out exactly what is involved in their independent licensing process.

Applicants in Montgomery should be prepared to undergo state and federal background checks, and to obtain liability insurance in the form of a surety bond.  The city of Mobile requires a fingerprint check and a comprehensive general liability insurance policy.

Private investigators work for a range of clients, from insurance companies to defense attorneys to individuals.  Often, they specialize in areas such as financial investigations related to fraud.  Having an education in criminal justice can help aspiring PIs learn the analytical skills they need to succeed and help them in navigating the legal system.

Although Alabama does not license PIs, many still demonstrate their professionalism by joining the Alabama Private Investigator’s Association.  This group of investigative professionals is active throughout the state and has three regional groups.  The organization holds it members to a high ethical standard established in a code of professional ethics.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides information on the salaries of private investigators by city.  In the case of Alabama, salary data is only available for the Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan area.

Private Investigator Salaries in Alabama

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Birmingham-Hoover AL
50
77390

 

Alaska

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.

 


 

Arizona

In Arizona, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) regulates the licensing of private investigators (PI), also called private detectives. All independent private investigators in Arizona must be licensed – and licenses can only be issued to individuals with at least three years of full-time investigative work experience. That requirement can be met with work for a private investigation firm or a federal, state or local government or law enforcement agency. Many retired police detectives become licensed private investigators in Arizona.

Step 1. Meet Application Requirements in Arizona

Applicants for a private investigator license in Arizona must meet these basic requirements:

  • At least 18 years old
  • U.S. citizen or legal resident
  • No felony convictions
  • Not under indictment for a felony
  • No registered sex offenders
  • Not on parole or probation
  • No misdemeanor convictions in the last five years for violent acts, fraud, theft, domestic violence, sexual misconduct or narcotics violations. This holds true even if the conviction was set aside.
  • Never convicted of attempting to act as a PI without a license

Step 2. Education and Training for a Career as an Arizona Private Investigator

It is recommended that individuals interested in a private investigator license in Arizona acquire an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related subject. Many top private detective agencies prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree or even a law degree. There are more than 35 schools in Arizona, as well as numerous online schools, that have criminal justice programs. There are also colleges and private institutions that offer certificates in private investigation.

The Arizona Association of Licensed Private Investigators (AALPI) is dedicated to bringing professionalism to the investigative industry. They provide an opportunity for networking and present educational programs on topics such as utilizing the latest computer technologies. In addition, the AALPI lobbies against laws that attempt to limit access to public records or impose regulations detrimental to investigative work.

Step 3. Experience and Apprenticeships in Arizona

Obtain documentation of at least three years full-time investigative work experience from a former employer.

Persons without this experience must first get a job as an apprentice with a licensed private investigation agency and then apply for a Private Investigator Employee Registration Certificate under the sponsorship of that agency.

Applicants must be 18 years old, citizens or legal residents of the U.S., and have no criminal record.

Applications must be accompanied with documentation of employment and $73 ($50 application fee plus $22 for the required fingerprinting). The DPS does a criminal background check before issuing the employee certificate. It is illegal to work for a PI agency without this certificate.

Step 4. Submit Application and get Fingerprinting in Arizona

A license application form can be downloaded at the Department of Public Safety website; Adobe Acrobat Reader software is needed. Or request an application form from the DPS, 2102 W. Encanto Blvd., Phoenix, AZ 85009-2347; telephone: 602-223-2361.  Mailing address is P.O. Box 6328, Phoenix, AZ 85005-6328.

If the applicant’s fingerprints are not already on file, he/she must be fingerprinted. The standard fee is $22.

The application form, employer documentation and required fees can be mailed to the above address or hand-carried to the Phoenix DPS office at 2102 Encanto Blvd. The licensing window is in Suite 130. Application packages, including fees, should be placed in the brown envelopes provided at the window.

The following fees need to be included in the application package:

  • One-time Application fee $250
  • License fee $400 (renewal $250)

Step 5. Now that You’re a Private Investigator in Arizona

Computer proficiency is a must for the job which also entails interviewing, conducting surveillances and writing detailed reports. The work done by a PI is extremely varied and can include such things as celebrity protection, background checks, and cases involving computer crime, harassment, child custody, insurance fraud, missing persons or copyright infringement.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career outlook for private detectives is better than average, especially for computer forensics investigation specialists.

The annual mean wage for PIs in Arizona is $52, 360 – slightly higher in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area.

In 2012, 210 private investigators were employed in Arizona, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Their median annual salary was $49,450, while those in the top 10% percent of their field made an average of $78,300 a year.  Private investigators in the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale area averaged almost exactly the same salary-level as those throughout the state.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Arizona

According to 2011 salary data from Arizona’s Workforce Department, salaries increased nearly 18% between 2011 and 2012 for the top earning private investigators in the state.  The median wage increased by slightly over one percent.

The Workforce Department projected employment in this field to increase nearly 2.5% in the two year period from 2011 to 2013.  Sixty percent of this job growth was projected to be due to people leaving the work force.

To become a private investigator in Arizona requires a license from the Licensing Unit of the state’s Department of Public Safety. Anyone doing private investigatory work in Arizona must be licensed, including investigators from other states temporarily doing work in the state.

Arizona requires employees of detective agencies to get a registration certificate.  If an investigator works for multiple employers, a separate certificate is required for each employer.

Agency licenses are issued to the individual in charge.  This is even true for businesses that are set up as sole proprietorships.  This type of license has more requirements: applicants must have three years of experience working full-time as a private investigator.

Private investigators in Arizona are represented by the Arizona Association of Licensed Private Investigators (AALPI).  This organization helps to insure that only properly license PIs are working in Arizona.  It also helps to fight burdensome legislation that could be damaging to the profession.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides 2012 information on salaries for private investigators for selected cities in most states.  In Arizona, the BLS only presents the salary data for the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale area as shown here.

Private Investigator Salaries in Arizona

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale AZ
200
52700

 


 

Arkansas

Private investigators in Arkansas take on a wide variety of jobs, including:

  • Reconstructing accident scenes or investigating suspicious claims for insurance companies Seeking evidence to bolster a defendant’s case for defense attorneys
  • Looking into possibly fraudulent claims for disability or other benefits for government agencies
  • Seeking missing persons or cheating spouses for individuals

All private investigators in Arkansas must have a valid license issued by the Arkansas State Police Regulating Services Division. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor to do the work of a private investigator in Arkansas without a license.

Step 1. Meet Requirements for Applying for a License in Arkansas

In addition to two years work experience alongside a licensed PI and passing the state board exam, applicants must meet the following additional requirements:

  • U.S. Citizen or legal resident
  • No felony or Class A misdemeanor convictions
  • No history of violent or immoral behavior
  • Successfully pass a background check
  • Be fingerprinted

Step 2. Work Alongside an Arkansas Licensed PI for Two Years

Any person interested in applying for a PI license must first spend a minimum of two years working for a licensed private detective. The employer’s license can be from Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma or Louisiana because Arkansas has a reciprocal PI licensing agreement with these three other states.

Step 3. Be Prepared to Take the PI Examination in Arkansas

Although there is no education requirement for becoming a licensed PI, a great deal of knowledge is needed to pass the examination requirement. It is recommended that prospective investigator’s earn an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. A degree is also an advantage when seeking an agency with which to fulfill the two-year work experience requirement. There are about 30 schools in Arkansas with criminal justice programs. Some of these schools, as well as a few private educational institutions, also offer a certificate in private investigation. The knowledge and skills needed to be a successful PI include such subject matter as:

  • Private Investigation Laws
  • How to Record Evidence
  • Surveillance Techniques
  • How to Use Computer Databases for Background Checks
  • Surveillance Methods
  • Courtroom Procedures
  • Business Management

Step 4. Take and Pass the Arkansas State Board Examination

Information about times and places for taking the private investigator examination can be obtained from the Arkansas Board of Private Investigation and Private Security Agencies, 1 State Police Plaza Drive, Little Rock, AR 72209; telephone: 501-618-8600.

The examination consists of 100 questions and a score of at least 70 percent is needed to pass. Questions cover a wide range of subjects, from sexual harassment laws to record-keeping. Results are immediately available.

Step 5.  Submit Application in Arkansas

The completed application should be submitted to the Arkansas State Police Regulatory Services Division at #1 State Police Plaza Drive, Little Rock, AR 72209. The application must be accompanied with the following documents:

  • Written confirmation of two years experience under a licensed PI
  • Passing examination score
  • Proof of legal residency (if not a citizen)
  • Check or Money Order for $450 license fee
  •  $38.50 to cover background checks and fingerprint cards

Step 6. Go to Work in Arkansas as a PI

Successful applicants are free to go to work in an established firm or set up shop on their own. Arkansas has been shown to be a good working environment for PIs. There are over 30 private detective agencies in Little Rock alone. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the job outlook for private detectives is good with an expected 21 percent increase in jobs by the year 2020. The annual mean salary for private investigators in Arkansas is $52,530.

The state of Arkansas considers the field of private investigation to be a growing industry.  Discover Arkansas projected that demand in this field will increase 13.5% between 2008 and 2018.  They also estimated that private investigator employment in the state stood at 64 in 2012.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Arkansas

According to 2012 salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for these investigators in Arkansas was $52,350.  Those who earned in the top 10th percentile averaged $59,750.

The salaries of those that live in Arkansas near Memphis are factored into the Memphis salary for PIs.  It was substantially higher than that for Arkansas as a whole, which had an average salary of $62,840 and top earners making $78,680.

Licensing is required to become a private investigator in Arkansas.  The state has tasked the Arkansas State Police with regulating private investigators.  They created the Arkansas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies.

Experience is required to obtain a license to be a private investigator. Applicants must have two consecutive years of experience working as private investigators.  They also have to pass a state board exam for PIs and undergo a thorough background check.

One way to gain experience is to work as an apprentice.  Applicants for positions at detective agencies can enhance their desirability by obtaining degrees in criminal justice.  This should also help to strengthen the analytical skills required for this type of work and help new PIs better understand the complexities of the legal system.

Once private investigators have been licensed to practice in Arkansas, they may be interested in joining the Arkansas Association of Professional Private Investigators.  Networking with fellow PIs can prove to be invaluable.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics assembles salary information from 2012 for each state and lists it for selected cities as is presented below for Arkansas.

Private Investigator Salaries in Arkansas

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Memphis TN-MS-AR
70
62840

 


 

California

The California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) licenses private investigators in the state. A PI license allows the holder to work independently or manage a private investigative firm. A person can apply for either a private investigator license or a private investigator license with firearm permit.

Step 1. Acquire Stipulated Experience/Education in California

The following experience, training and education is required in order to become a private investigator in California:

  • A total of 6,000 hours of paid, investigative work over a period of three years (2,000 hours a year); OR
  • A total of 5,000 hours of paid, investigative work over a period of two-and-a-half years with an Associate’s degree in criminal justice, law or police science; OR
  • A total of 4,000 hours of paid, investigative work over a period of two years with a bachelor’s degree in law or police science.
  • Applicants for a PI license with firearm permit must also pass an eight-hour “Power to Arrest” course and a 14-hour course on carrying and using firearms (eight classroom and six range hours).

Acceptable investigative work includes: sworn law enforcement officer, military police officer, or doing investigative work under a licensed PI, attorney, repossession firm, insurance agency or arson investigation unit.

Unacceptable work includes: process server, public records researcher or debt collector.

California’s private investigators also have the option of pursuing firearms, baton and tear gas training through agencies approved by the California Bureau of Safety and Investigative Services.

Step 2. Get Fingerprinted in California

It is necessary to fill out a Live Scan Fingerprint Application. There is a separate Live Scan Fingerprint application form for persons who are also applying for a weapons permit. In California, it is mandatory to take care of the fingerprint requirement at one of these centers but there are a multitude of them in all counties. The city of Los Angeles alone has approximately 70 centers and there are over 35 of them within the San Diego city limits. The forms are not available online; however, you can find the Attorney General’s list of Live Scan Centers.

The standard fee is $51 for private investigator and $89 for private investigator with firearms permit. Some centers add a small, local fee. The BSIS uses the fingerprints to do a criminal background check. Applicants need to retain the receipt for inclusion in the application packet.

Step 3. Obtain, Complete and Submit California’s Application Packet

Applications for a private investigator license are only accepted from U.S. citizens or legal residents who are over the age of 18.

Along with your application packet, the following documents must be included:

  • Application Form
  • Personal Identification Form
  • Certificate in Support of Experience
  • Authorization of Business Name (if applicable)
  • Two Passport-Type Photos (2”X 1-1/2”)
  • Firearms Qualification and Firearms Permit Application (if applicable)
  • Live Scan Receipt
  • Check or Money Order for $50 ($130 if requesting firearms permit)

Entire packet should be mailed to BSIS, P.O. Box 989002, West Sacramento, CA 95798-9002. They can be called at 916-322-4000.

Step 4. Take and Pass California Private Investigator Examination

Persons whose applications are approved will receive an examination packet from Psychological Services Industries containing a candidate handbook, study materials and a number to call to schedule the examination.

Tests are given Monday through Saturday at any of 10 California locations. The two-hour, multiple-choice test covers such topics as terminology, laws/regulations, civil/criminal liability, evidence handling, surveillance, etc.

Candidates will be notified if they pass the examination at which time they must submit the $175 fee to receive the license.

Step 5. Begin Working as a Licensed Private Investigator in California

Private investigators in California perform many important functions including:

  • Investigating Crimes
  • Investigating People (their occupations, character, marital status, etc.)
  • Investigating causes of accidents, fires, injuries or losses
  • Locating lost or stolen property
  • Securing evidence for use in court

Private investigators in California may protect individuals if relevant to the investigation but they may not protect property. PIs who carry a firearm must have a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance ($500,000 for a loss due to injury or death and $500,000 for losses due to the destruction of property).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PIs in California earn an annual mean salary of $58,970. The annual mean salaries in specific metropolitan areas are:

  • Sacramento:  $50,900
  • Los Angeles:  $63,310
  • Oakland:  $66,820
  • San Diego:  $72,870
  • San Francisco:  $74,470-$79,900
  • San Jose:  $80,870


Private Investigator Salary Information for California

More than 2,900 private investigators were employed in California in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Their average salary was $58,970, with those in the 90th percentile earning $92,340.

The average salary and the salaries for top earning private investigators in California are shown below:

California City
Average Annual Salary
Los Angeles
$63310
Oakland
$66820
Sacramento
$50900
San Diego
$72870
San Francisco
$79900
San Jose
$80870

The Los Angeles area had the third highest level of employment of PIs of any metropolitan area in the country with 800 working as of 2012.  The following cities have the highest paying salaries of any metropolitan area in the country:

  • San Jose – First
  • San Francisco – Second
  • San Diego – Third
  • Oakland – Seventh

According to California’s Employment Development Corporation, the demand for private investigators is projected to increase by 400 positions between 2010 and 2020—a 14.8% increase in the employment level.

The state of California requires that the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) license private investigators. BSIS is part of the California Department of Consumer Affairs.  The process of obtaining this license includes taking a two-hour exam and undergoing background checks through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the California Department of Justice (DOJ).

Three years of experience working as an investigator is also required for licensure in California.  An associate’s degree in criminal justice, criminal law, or police science will substitute for half a year of the required experience.  A law degree or a bachelor’s degree in police science will substitute for one year of experience.

Information on employment levels and wages in 2012 in various cities in California is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  These statistics are shown below.

Private Investigator Salaries in California

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale CA Metropolitan Division
800
63310
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward CA Metropolitan Division
130
66820
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario CA
120
62990
Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville CA
130
50900
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos CA
130
72870
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont CA
320
74470
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City CA Metropolitan Division
190
79900
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara CA
90
80870

 


 

Colorado

In Colorado, private investigator (PI) licensing falls within the jurisdiction of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) Office of Private Investigator Licensure. In addition to issuing licenses, the Office of Private Investigator Licensure also investigates consumer complaints and enforces regulations with fines for misconduct.

In 1877 Colorado became the first state in the nation to institute licensing requirements for private investigators. However, that requirement was declared unconstitutional 100 years later in 1977 because there was no adequate legal definition for “private investigators” at that time. The Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado worked hard to reinstate licensing and, under their sponsorship, the Colorado legislature passed the Private Investigator Voluntary Licensure Act of 2011.

Effective June 1, 2015, Colorado went on to implement a law making licensing mandatory for anybody working as a private investigator in the state.

Step 1. Gain the Necessary Education and Experience

Anyone hoping to pursue a career in private investigations would be smart to earn a degree in a field like criminal justice for a better understanding of the investigative process in the context of US law.

Colorado licenses private investigators at two successive levels, each of which has different requirements:

Level 1 Private Investigator License:

  • At least 21 years old
  • US citizen or legal resident of the US
  • Pass the Colorado Jurisprudence Exam to demonstrate knowledge of ethical conduct and rules/regulations concerning the practice of private investigations

Level 2 Private Investigator License:

  • Satisfy all of the above mentioned requirements for Level 1 Private Investigator licensing
  • Have a minimum of 4,000 hours of investigative work experience as a PI or with a local, state or federal law enforcement agency
  • The director of the Colorado Office of Private Investigator Licensure may also stipulate some college education as stated in Colorado Revised Statute 12-58.5-106

Many of those interested in becoming private investigators are former police detectives and military police officers who easily meet the experience requirement.

In addition to the experience/education prerequisites described above, all license applicants (both Level 1 and Level 2) must submit to fingerprinting for the purpose of a Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and FBI background check and submit a $330 application fee.

Instructions on fingerprinting for the purpose of a background check can be found here. CBI will submit the findings of your background check directly to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Office of Private Investigator Licensure.

Step 2. Pass the Colorado Jurisprudence Exam and Apply for a PI License

As a Level 1 or Level 2 private investigator license applicant, you are required to take and pass the Colorado Private Investigator Jurisprudence Examination online.

Exam preparation materials and instructions for taking the exam are available here.

Applicants that do not pass the exam on their first attempt must wait five (5) days before taking it again.

Upon passing the exam, applicants will be issued a Passing Results Report, which must be signed and submitted along with the online license application.

All applicants must apply for licensure using the Online Licensing Portal.

As part of the licensing process, all applicants must either currently hold or agree to post a surety bond of at least $10,000.

The affidavit of surety bond for private investigator licensure can be found here.

When submitting an online application, PI licensure applicants must also include:

  • Passing Results Report for the Jurisprudence Exam
  • Surety affidavit
  • $330 license application fee

Step 3. Begin Working as a Private Investigator in Colorado

A licensed PI can go to work for an established firm or go into business alone. Persons who decide to go into business for themselves need to choose a name for their business, develop an appealing website and think about ways to market their business to a target audience. Many new PIs find it works better to specialize in a certain type of service, such as skip tracing, public records searches, accident reconstructions or insurance investigations.

Legal investigations and computer forensics are two high-demand specialties. Legal investigators assist attorneys in preparing cases for litigation by seeking out facts, such as who bears the responsibility in a personal injury case. Some education in law is a definite plus when specializing in legal investigations. Computer forensics specialists find legal evidence in computers and digital storage media. Computer forensics evidence is being  used more and more frequently in both criminal and civil court cases.

Private Investigator Salaries in Colorado

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012 salary report, the average annual salary for private detectives in the state of Colorado was $48,500. The average salary for that year is shown here for key metro areas in Colorado:

  • Fort Collins:  $34,620
  • Colorado Springs:  $48,080
  • Denver:  $66,610

Private investigators that establish independent PI firms have the potential to earn much more than this.

Step 4. Keep your PI License Current

In Colorado, private investigator licenses must be renewed on May 31st of each year. If a license is issued within 120 days of the upcoming renewal date (May 31st), the licensee will not be required to be renewed untill May 31st the following year.

Online license renewal forms can be found here.

Private Investigator Professional Organizations in Colorado

The Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado (PPIAC) has regular meetings and an annual conference. It offers an excellent opportunity for networking with other investigators, keeping up with what is new in the field, and continuing to learn via workshops and seminars.

The Colorado Society of Private Investigators is a Denver-based organization dedicated to ethics, education and professional standards in the profession. Their regular meetings in Denver usually feature an educational speaker. Information is available at 303-296-2200.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Colorado

According to 2012 salary date from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 320 private investigators in Colorado averaged $48,500 a year with top earners in the 90th percentile making $89,130 annually.

The average wages of private investigators in selected Colorado cities is listed below, followed by the average salary of those in the top ten percent as of 2012:

Colorado City
Average Annual Salary
Colorado Springs
$48080
Denver
$66610
Fort Collins
$34620

The average salary for Denver’s private investigators is the eighth highest of any average metropolitan salary for PIs in the county.

A license is not required to work as a private investigator in Colorado, but these professionals can volunteer to be licensed.  Having this license adds additional credibility to a PI in Colorado.

Licenses can be obtained from the Division of Professions and Occupations of the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies.  A fingerprint background check is required to obtain such a license.

Once private investigators have been licensed and started working, they have a variety of potential clients.  Some PIs work for insurance companies determining whether people getting workman’s compensation are truly injured.  Others work with defense attorneys to gather as much information about the client and the case as they can.

Many PIs work for individuals.  In some cases, they determine whether or not potential investors are trustworthy, while in others they may ascertain the fidelity of spouses or loved ones.

Although Colorado does not have any educational requirements to become a PI, obtaining a degree such as one in criminal justice can help strengthen the analytical and critical thinking skills of potential PIs.

Detailed information about the employment levels and hourly and annual wages of private investigators in different Colorado cities is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  This information is provided below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Colorado

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Colorado Springs CO
30
48080
Denver-Aurora-Broomfield CO
110
66610
Fort Collins-Loveland CO
Estimate not released
34620

 


 

Connecticut

The Special Licensing and Firearms Unit of the Connecticut State Police handles the licensing of private detectives in Connecticut. They regulate the qualifications and eligibility of interested individuals who wish to become private investigators in the state. These include relevant training and experience, as well as financial resources.

Step 1. Meet Fundamental Requirements for Private Detectives in Connecticut

Before applying to become a private detective in the state of Connecticut, make sure that you meet these fundamental requirements:

  • You are at least 25 years old
  • You are of good moral character
  • You have a minimum of five years of experience as a full-time investigator, or ten years of experience as a state or municipal police  officer (employment as a security officer does not count towards investigative experience required to become a private detective)
  • You have no felony convictions on record
  • You have no misdemeanor convictions in the past seven years of  the following types:
    • Illegal possession of narcotics
    • Criminally negligent homicide (Class A misdemeanor)
    •  Assault in the third degree (Class A misdemeanor)
    • Threatening in the second degree (Class A misdemeanor)
    • Reckless endangerment in the first degree (Class A misdemeanor)
    • Unlawful restraint in the second degree (Class A misdemeanor
    • Riot in the first degree (Class A misdemeanor)
    • Riot in the second degree (Class B misdemeanor)
    • Inciting to riot (Class A misdemeanor)
    • Stalking in the second degree
  • You have no convictions for offenses involving moral turpitude
  • You have never been discharged from the military because of questionable moral character
  • You are able to post a $10,000 performance surety bond with the state
  • You are able to obtain a $300,000 General Liability Insurance policy

Step 2. Fulfill Education and Experience Prerequisites for Private Detectives in Connecticut

Training in private detective work or a related discipline may count towards up to one year of the state’s experience requirements for licensure as a private detective.

Obtaining a degree such as these may be quite helpful to you as an applicant for a private detective license in Connecticut:

  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies- Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice- Homeland Security Technology

Any of the following full-time work experiences may count towards the experience requirement for licensure of private detectives in Connecticut:

  • Five years as a licensed private detective in another jurisdiction
  • Five years as a registered private investigator in another jurisdiction
  • Five years operating a proprietary detective agency
  • Five years as an investigator with local, state or federal government
  • Five years as a detective with local, state or federal police department
  • Five years investigative experience in another recognized industry
  • 10 years as a police officer with a municipal, state or federal police department

You are not permitted to currently be a police officer when you apply to become a private detective in Connecticut.

Step 3. Submit Connecticut Private Detective License Application and Required Documentation

If you have fulfilled the above requirements, you are ready to apply for licensure as a private detective in Connecticut.

  1. Download and complete the Application for Private Detective or Security Service License, and have your signature notarized
  2. Attach two recent passport-type photos of yourself on a blue background
  3. Complete and enclose two fingerprint cards, one for the state background check and one for the FBI background check
  4. Enclose one check or money order payable to Treasurer, State of Connecticut for $50 (state background check fee)
  5. Enclose one check or money order payable to Treasurer, State of Connecticut for $16.50 (FBI background check fee)
  6. Enclose one check or money order payable to Treasurer, State of Connecticut for $1450.00 (initial two year license fee)
  7. If you are seeking a license for a private detective agency, enclose a check or money order payable to Treasurer, State of Connecticut for $1750.00 (initial two year license fee)
  8. Enclose a copy of your driving record from the motor vehicle department of  the state in which you have lived for the past three years
  9. Enclose a copy of your current driver’s license
  10. Enclose a copy of your military discharge papers, if applicable
  11. Enclose a copy of your recent credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian or Trans Union)
  12. Enclose a copy of your high school diploma or GED
  13. Enclose a copy of your college degree and college transcript, if applicable
  14. Include proof of citizenship or legal residency in the U.S.
  15. Include verification of your investigative, detective or police officer experience. This verification must be from the agency for which you worked and include your name, any licenses you held or still hold, your title, duties, and reasons for leaving employment
  16. If you are under psychiatric care, you must have your attending psychologist or psychiatrist send a letter to the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit to verify your ability to work as a private detective
  17. If you are a former police officer, have your former employer send a letter confirming your discharge from police service to the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit. This letter must include your length of service there, the titles you held, your duties, and the date you left their employ.
  18. Within 60 days of submitting your application, ask four people who know you well and can attest to your character, but are not immediate family members, to write you letters of character reference. These must be sent from the letter writers directly to the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit, and must include the reference’s address and telephone number. Enclose four letters of character reference.
  19. If you plan to open your own private detective agency and seek a corporate license, send a copy of the Certificate of Incorporation from the Connecticut Secretary of State. If your company is out-of-state, send a copy of the Authority to do Business as a Foreign Corporation from the Connecticut Secretary of State.
  20. Make sure everything is sent within 60 days of submitting your application to Connecticut State Police, Special Licensing and Firearms Unit, 1111 Country Club Road, Middletown, CT 06457.

You will be contacted for an oral interview once your complete application packet and documentation are received and reviewed. Prior to licensure, you must obtain a $300,000 General Liability insurance policy. You will also be asked to submit the executed Bond for Private Detective License for $10,000. Once you are issued a private detective/private detective agency license, your name will be published on the Connecticut list of Licensed Private Detectives and Security Companies.

Step 4. Now that You’re a Licensed Private Detective in Connecticut

Kudos to you on earning your private detective license in Connecticut! Make sure to maintain that license properly, by renewing it every two years. You will receive a renewal application in the mail from the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit 90 days prior to the expiration of your license. At each renewal, you must submit:

  1. Completed Renewal Application for License as a Private Detective/Security Company
  2. Renewal fee of $625 via check or money order payable to Treasurer, State of Connecticut (for private detective license)
  3. If you own a corporation, association or partnership, renewal fee for private detective agency of $1000 via check or money order payable to Treasurer, State of Connecticut.
  4. Completed Form DPS-363-C, Verification of Performance Bond
  5. A list of all registered employees if you own a private detective agency

Consider joining one of the following private detective professional organizations in Connecticut and nationwide to increase your networking opportunities:


Private Investigator Salary Information for Connecticut

Connecticut had the fourth highest concentration of jobs for private investigators in the county in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  These 620 investigators earned a median salary of $36,530.  Some made nearly double that amount with those in the top tenth wage percentile earning $70,420 in 2012.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides salary data for selected cities in Connecticut.  The information on the median salary and the salaries of those in the top tenth percentile are listed below for selected cities in the state:

Connecticut City
Average Annual Salary
Hartford
$32270
New Haven
$41950
Norwich
$36750

New Haven is an excellent place to find work in Connecticut, since it has the third highest concentration of jobs for private investigators of any metropolitan area in the county.  Twenty-four percent of the PIs in Connecticut were located in New Haven in 2012.

There are stringent requirements to become a private investigator in Connecticut.  Applicants are required to be at least 25 years old and have five years of full time experience in one of the following:

  • Being a registered private investigator
  • Operating a detective agency
  • Being an investigator with a law enforcement agency
  • Being a detective with a law enforcement agency
  • Any other related investigative experience

Applicants can also apply if they have had ten years of experience as a police officer.  Education can substitute for up to a year of these requirements.  Another requirement is to have insurance in the form of both:

  • A performance surety bond for $10,000
  • A general liability insurance policy for $300,000

Licenses are obtained from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection for the state of Connecticut.

Detailed information on hourly and annual salaries for private investigators in various cities in Connecticut is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and listed below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Connecticut

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford CT
Estimate not released
38120
New Haven CT
150
42700
Norwich-New London CT-RI
Estimate not released
44880
Worcester MA-CT
100
53010

 


 

Delaware

Private investigators in Delaware must be licensed through the Delaware State Police Professional Licensing section. They may perform varied investigative duties statewide, from tracking down cheating spouses in New Castle County to investigating workers compensation and insurance fraud in Kent and Sussex Counties. Meeting experience requirements is also necessary if you plan to open a private investigative agency in Delaware.

Step 1. Meet General Criteria for Licensure as a Private Investigator in Delaware

Consult this checklist to make sure you meet the general criteria for licensing as a private investigator in Delaware before applying:

  • You are at least 21 years old
  • You have a firm offer of employment or have been hired by a licensed private investigative agency
  • You have never been convicted of a felony
  • You have never been convicted of a misdemeanor that involved drug offenses, moral turpitude or theft
  • You have not Assault III convictions in the past three years
  • If you plan to carry a firearm in your work as a private investigator, you complete the necessary training through an approved firearms instructor and apply for a firearms permit

Step 2. Satisfy Training and Experiential Qualifications for Licensed Private Investigators in Delaware

Training

No formal training or education is required of those seeking licensure as a private investigator in Delaware, with the exception of those seeking a firearms permit. This requires completion of a 40-hour Firearms Qualification course by a Delaware State Police-approved instructor. A list of such instructors may be found here. Re-qualification of at least three shoots per year, with 90 days between each shoot, is required annually in order to keep firearms qualification in Delaware.

Education in a criminal justice or related field can be very helpful to those seeking private investigator licensure in Delaware. To increase your chances of success on the job, it is recommended that you pursue a certificate, diploma or degree such as one of the following:

  • Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Services/Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Experience

While no experience is required in order to become a licensed private investigator in Delaware, you must be hired by or have a firm offer of employment from a licensed Delaware private investigative agency. If you plan to become licensed to open a private investigative agency in Delaware, you must have five years of investigative experience, five years of police officer experience, or have graduated from a certified law enforcement academy.

Step 3. Submit Licensing Application(s) and Supporting Documentation to the Delaware State Police

When you are ready to apply for private investigator licensure in Delaware, you might also want to apply for your firearms permit and, if you are opening your own agency, private investigative agency licensure. This section will give you the basics for all applications.

Private Investigator Licensure

  1. Complete the Private Investigative and Private Security Employee application. Make sure to check the appropriate boxes for New Application and Private Investigator at the top of the form.
  2. Pay the $69 processing fee in cash or by credit card (in person only) or via certified check, company check or money order payable to the State of Delaware. (Upon licensure and receiving your identification card, an additional fee of $20 will be due).
  3. Go to one of the following locations to submit your application and have your fingerprints and photographs taken:
    1. SBI/Professional Licensing, Blue Hen Corporation Center, Dover (walk in-basis from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday)
    2. SBI/Professional Licensing, Delaware State Police Troop 2, Route 40, Newark, DE (by appointment only – call (302) 739-2528 to schedule)
  4. You will be informed if additional documentation is required. If so, it must be submitted within 30 days of submitting your application, or the application will be void.
  5. When your ID card is ready, the SBI will call you to pick it up at one of the above locations, at which time you must submit a $20 fee.

Firearms Permit

If you are also applying for a firearms permit, check the appropriate box on the Private Investigative Employee Application above.  You must also submit a copy of the certificate of completion of the 40-hour firearms course you completed.  If additional documentation is requested, the SBI will notify you.

Private Investigative Agency Licensure

Review the Private Investigative and Private Security Agency Licensing Procedures first. Determine which class your agency falls into:

  • Class A- Private Investigative Agency – in-state or out-of-state
  • Class C-Private Investigative & Private Security Agency– in-state or out-of-state
  1. Complete the Private Investigative Agency or Private Investigative and Private Security Agency application, checking the correct boxes (Class A or Class C) at the top.
    1. Include the proper licensing fees via company or cashier’s check payable to the Delaware State Police:
      1. $230 if you qualify as a Class A in-state or out of state agency and have no employees
      2. $345 if you qualify as a Class A in state or out of state agency and have employees and partners/corporate officers
      3. $520 if you qualify as a Class C in state or out of state agency
  2. Also complete the License Holder/Delaware Manager application
    1. Include the proper licensing fees for this application, via company or cashier’s check payable to the Delaware State Police:
      1. $69 if you qualify as a Class A in-state agency
      2. $230 plus $69 if you qualify as a Class A out-of-state agency
      3. $69 if you qualify as a Class C in-state agency
      4. $345 plus $69 if you qualify as a Class C out-of-state agency
  3. Obtain a surety bond from a Delaware-authorized surety company, payable to the State of Delaware. Use the Private Investigative & Private Security Agency Bond Form. Amounts are as follows:
    1. Class A in-state: $5000 if no employees or $10,000 if employees, with the bond in the name of the agency
    2. Class A out of state: $10,000 in the name of the agency and $5000 in the name of the Delaware manager
    3. Class C in state: $15,000 in the name of the agency
    4. Class C out-of-state: $15,000 in the name of the agency and $10,000 in the name of the Delaware manager
  4. Obtain a one million dollar per occurrence liability insurance policy. The agency should use this address for the Certificate Holder: Delaware State Police, Professional Licensing, P.O. Box 430, Dover, DE 19903
  5. The license holder (and Delaware manager, if applicable) must each submit five letters of reference attesting to good character and five letters of investigative experience or law enforcement.
  6. Other owners, corporate officers or partners must each complete the Owner/Partner/Corporate Officer application
  7. Two sets each of fingerprints must be done on the license holder, Delaware manager and any corporate officers, partners, or officers in person at one of the SBI locations listed above.
  8. When all application materials above have been completed, contact the Licensing Specialist at (302) 672-5304 to make an appointment to submit your application.

Step 4. Now that You’re a Licensed Private Investigator in Delaware

Congratulations! You now hold a license as a private investigator in Delaware! You will be notified by mail when it is time to renew your individual license and/or private investigative agency license, on an annual basis. The fees, application forms, instructions for insurance, surety bonds, and fingerprints will all be included in the renewal packet.

No continuing education is required, except if you have a firearms permit. You must re-qualify through at least three shoots per year, with 90 days between each shoot in order to keep your firearms qualification current in Delaware.

Thirty private investigators were employed in Delaware in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Their salaries varied widely.  The annual median salary in 2012 was $36,530, while those in the highest income bracket averaged $70,420 that year.

A license from the Delaware State Police is required to become a PI in the state, although no specific training is required.  There are a number of types of arrests that can disqualify a potential candidate and law enforcement agents are not permitted to become private investigators in Delaware.

Applicants must have been hired by a licensed agency before they can apply for their license.  Licensed PIs are only allowed to work for one private detective agency at a time.

The work that private investigators do can vary greatly.  Many specialize in financial matters.  This can include investigating potential investors to ensure that they do not have a history of malfeasance or investigating the financial situation of the elderly to make sure that elder abuse is not taking place.

Other private investigators work for insurance companies investigating workers’ claim compensations.  It is quite common for insurance companies to double check that the people getting this form of insurance are tangibly injured and not committing fraud.

Surveillance on potential cheating spouses is another line of work for private investigators, while many people have a potential mate investigated before they legally commit to a relationship.

Other types of work for PIs including consulting with defense attorneys to find out as much information as they can about the defendant’s case to help prepare the defense.  Some PIs specialize in reviewing crime scene analyses to ensure that any evidence against their client has been processed properly.

Private investigators who have their own detective agency in Delaware may want to join the Delaware Association of Detective Agencies.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Delaware

Thirty private investigators were employed in Delaware in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Their salaries varied widely.  The annual median salary in 2012 was $36,530, while those in the highest income bracket averaged $70,420 that year.

A license from the Delaware State Police is required to become a PI in the state, although no specific training is required.  There are a number of types of arrests that can disqualify a potential candidate and law enforcement agents are not permitted to become private investigators in Delaware.

Applicants must have been hired by a licensed agency before they can apply for their license.  Licensed PIs are only allowed to work for one private detective agency at a time.

The work that private investigators do can vary greatly.  Many specialize in financial matters.  This can include investigating potential investors to ensure that they do not have a history of malfeasance or investigating the financial situation of the elderly to make sure that elder abuse is not taking place.

Other private investigators work for insurance companies investigating workers’ claim compensations.  It is quite common for insurance companies to double check that the people getting this form of insurance are tangibly injured and not committing fraud.

Surveillance on potential cheating spouses is another line of work for private investigators, while many people have a potential mate investigated before they legally commit to a relationship.

Other types of work for PIs including consulting with defense attorneys to find out as much information as they can about the defendant’s case to help prepare the defense.  Some PIs specialize in reviewing crime scene analyses to ensure that any evidence against their client has been processed properly.

Private investigators who have their own detective agency in Delaware may want to join the Delaware Association of Detective Agencies.

 


 

District of Columbia

Under the Municipal Regulations of the District of Columbia, a license is needed in order to work as a private investigator or, as called in the regulations, a “private detective.” Licensed private detectives Washington, DC are permitted by law to discover, detect and/or reveal crime or criminals; secure information for evidence related to criminals and/or crime; and determine the whereabouts, identity, actions or character of any thing or person.

Step 1. Meet Preliminary Requirements for Licensure as a Private Detective in Washington, DC

Prior to applying to become a private detective in the District of Columbia, you must meet some preliminary requirements.  These are listed under Chapter 17-20 of the District of Columbia Municipal code, and include:

  • Attaining the age of 18 or older
  • Residing in the District of Columbia
  • Pass an FBI criminal background check and criminal history review
  • Have the financial ability to file and keep in force a license bond of at least $5000
  • Have no felony convictions on your record
  • Have a firm offer of employment from a licensed private detective agency in the District of Columbia

Having a private detective license in the District of Columbia does not give you the authority to carry a concealed weapon. For firearms registration, you must apply separately and meet separate requirements.

Step 2. Satisfy Educational Preferences and Training Requirements for Licensed Private Detectives in Washington, DC

The Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, which is the agency responsible for licensure and regulation of private detectives in the district, does not require private detective applicants to have education or experience beyond that of a high school diploma or GED.

However, possession of a college diploma, certificate or degree in one of the following fields can often be of great help to applicants for private detective licenses in the District of Columbia:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Homeland Security Technology

If you wish to carry a concealed weapon as a licensed private detective in the District of Columbia, no permit is required. However, all firearms must be registered with the Metropolitan Police Department. This involves taking an online Firearms Safety Training Course, which covers these topics:

  • Safe transport of firearms
  • Safe firearm storage
  • Firearm cleaning and maintenance
  • Safety checks
  • Restricting access to firearms
  • Cardinal rules of firearm safety
  • Revolvers and semi-automatic pistols

Step 3. Submit Washington, DC Licensing Application(s) and Supporting Documentation to the Metropolitan Police Department

Once you have met the qualifications, you are ready to apply for licensure as a private detective in the District of Columbia.  Firearms registration may be accomplished after training is complete as well.

Private Detective License

Call the Security Officers Management Branch of the Metropolitan Police Department at (202) 671-0500 to obtain an application form and other necessary forms to apply for private detective licensure in the District of Columbia. They will ask you to obtain a completed application that you will get from your employer, signed by the employer or another authorized company representative stating that you are employed/have an employment offer with them. You must bring this completed application and your driver’s license or other picture identification card with you to the Security Officers Management Branch (SOMB) for initial screening. They are located at 2000 14th Street, NW, 3rd Floor. Other items that you must bring with you include:

  • Notarized affidavit form (will be issued to you by SOMB) that lists your past employment, residences and arrest history
  • Copies of the final court disposition for any charges on your arrest record
  • License fee of $206 payable via cashier’s check, certified check or money order to the D.C. treasurer
  • Two recent color photos, passport-sized
  • Copy of your birth certificate from the Vital Statistics Office of your birth state
  • Copies of any documents indicating name changes (such as marriage certificates, divorce decrees and adoption papers)
  • Copy of your separation from the military, if applicable

Once you are at the SOMB, they will schedule your fingerprinting for the Metropolitan Police Department and FBI criminal background checks that will be performed. The background check will take up to two weeks to complete. If you pass, you will be issued a license and identification card as a Private Detective in the District of Columbia.

Firearms Registration

Although you need no permit to carry a concealed weapon as a licensed private detective in the District of Columbia, you must register all firearms you possess. This process is as follows:

  • Complete the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) Application for Firearms Registration Certificate (form PD-219).
  • Once the form is completed, bring it to the Firearms Registration Section of the MPD at 300 Indiana Avenue, NW, 2nd Floor, along with:
    • The unloaded firearm, if you already own it (if you are buying the firearm, you will not have it yet, as the D.C. dealer is not authorized to sell it to you until you complete the registration process)
    • Proof of D.C. residency
    • Proof that you have completed the training requirement, such as:
      • Certificate of completion for the online Firearms Safety Training Course
      • Certificate showing you received firearms training in the military
      • A firearms license from another state that requires firearms training
      • Other evidence that you have completed a firearms training or safety course
  • You will be asked to certify, with your signature, that you are not legally blind
  • You must then pass, with at least a 70 percent correct score, a multiple-choice exam based on the firearms laws and regulations of the District of Columbia. You will be allowed to refer to a study guide on the laws and regulations during the test.
  • Pay the appropriate fees of $48 (includes fingerprinting/FBI background check fee of $35 and application fee of $13) via cash or money order payable to the DC Treasurer.
  • Be fingerprinted for a background check

When your firearms registration is approved in one to five business days, you will be notified by phone. You can request to have your firearms registration certificate mailed to you or pick it up at the FRS office.

Step 4. Now that You’re a Licensed Private Detective in Washington, DC

Congratulations! You are now a licensed private detective in the District of Columbia! Your license is valid for one year, beginning on November 1 of the year it is issued, and continuing until October 31 of the following year.

You will receive renewal information by mail from the SOMB at least one month before your license is set to expire. The renewal fee is $206.


Private Investigator Salary Information for The District of Columbia

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.

Private Investigator Salaries in Washington, DC

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division
1080
49500
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV
1100
49600

 


 

Florida

Florida requires all private investigators to carry a Class C license. As of August 31, 2013, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Licensing reports that there are 7807 Class C licensed private investigators in the state. Additionally, there are 1707 Class CC private investigator interns, and 79 Class MA private investigative agency managers.

Step 1. Meet Basic Qualifications for Licensure as a Private Investigator in Florida

In order to obtain a Class C Private Investigator license in Florida, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident
  • Have no disqualifying criminal history
  • Be of good moral character
  • Have no history of mental illness
  • Have no history of use of illegal drugs
  • Have no history of alcoholism
  • Have two years of experience (which can be gained through first obtaining a Class CC Private Investigator Intern License in Step 2 below)

Step 2. Complete Training and Experience Required of Private Investigators in Florida

Training – Because applicants for a Class C Private Investigator’s License in Florida must have two years of experience, most applicants opt to apply for licensure as a Class CC Private Investigator Intern first. Prior to applying for the intern license, you must complete at least 40 hours of professional private investigator training and Chapter 493 of the Florida Statutes, offered by an accredited school.  A list of currently approved schools is here.

The training programs offered by these schools result in a diploma and fulfill Florida’s requirements. However, some applicants choose to go on for college degrees in these related fields, to boost their career chances further:

  • Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice/Homeland Security
  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Additionally, one year of college course work in law enforcement, criminology or criminal justice (or a related field) may be used to substitute for one of the two-year experience requirement for a Class C Private Investigator license in Florida.

Firearms Training – If your job as a private investigator or private investigator intern will require you to carry concealed firearms, you must complete 28 hours of range and classroom training given by a Florida Class K licensed firearms instructor. Acceptable forms of training are listed here.

Experience – Once you have completed training and applied for and received a Class CC Private Investigator Intern license, you may begin working under the sponsorship of a Florida-licensed private investigator. As the experience requirements for a Class C Private Investigator license include two years of full-time private investigative experience, this is a great way to work towards becoming a full-fledged private investigator.

Step 3. Pass the Florida Private Investigator Licensing Examination

The next step on your path to Florida licensure as a private investigator is to pass a state examination. Your knowledge of Florida Statutes Sections 493.6100 through 493.6203 and Section 493.6301(5) dealing with business practices of the industry of private investigation and legal responsibilities of being a private investigator will be tested on this exam. To schedule an appointment to take this examination, call one of the eight statewide Licensing Division Regional Offices:

  • Fort Walton Beach (850) 833-9146
  • Punta Gorda (941) 575-5770
  • Jacksonville (904) 828-3100
  • Tallahassee (850) 245-5498
  • Doral (305) 639-3500
  • Tampa (813) 272-2552
  • Orlando (407) 245-0883
  • West Palm Beach (561) 681-2530

You must pay $100 to take the exam, which lasts about two hours. Your results will be mailed to you two to four weeks after taking the exam.

Step 4. Apply for Class C Licensure as a Private Investigator in Florida

After passing the exam, you are ready to apply for Class C licensure as a private investigator in Florida.

  1. Complete the Application for Class C Private Investigator License.
  2. Attach a color passport-sized recent photo of yourself.
  3. Include a completed, signed and notarized Affidavit of Experience (Form FDACS-16023)
  4. Include the certificate of completion confirming your passing score on the exam
  5. Include proof of completion of the training and/or educational requirements, such as a diploma, degree and/or transcript
  6. Include a set of fingerprints on the fingerprint card included with the application package or by electronic fingerprint scan. Instructions for this process are provided within the application package.
  7. Include a check or money order payable to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for $167 (includes $50 application fee, $75 license fee, and $42 fingerprint processing fee)

Mail the above information to Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Licensing, P.O. Box 9100, Tallahassee, FL 32315-9100.

If you plan to carry a concealed weapon either as a Private Investigative Intern or Private Investigator and are at least 21 years old, you must file the Class G Statewide Firearms License application. You must include the certificate showing you have completed the mandatory firearms instruction, a health certificate signed by your physician or advanced registered nurse practitioner, a passport-sized photograph, and fingerprint information. Also, enclose check or money order payable to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for $154 (license fee of $112 and fingerprint processing fee of $42). Submit all of this to the Division of Licensing address listed above. (If you are submitting the application for Class C or CC licensure at the same time, you only need to submit one set of fingerprints and one fingerprint fee).

If you wish to manage a private investigative agency, you must apply for Class r MA Manager of a Private Investigative Agency licensure. Experience and training requirements for MA managers are the same as for those of private investigator. You must also pass the same examination as private investigators.

Step 5. Now That You are a Licensed Private Investigator in Florida

Congratulations! You have worked hard, studied hard and are now a licensed private investigator in Florida! You must renew your Class C license every two years. This may be done and paid for online. You might also want to consider joining professional organizations such as the Florida Association of Licensed Investigators, which provided advocacy and networking for licensed PIs in the state.
A large number of private investigators are employed in Florida.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2,160 PIs had jobs in the state in 2012.  Salary data for that year indicated that the average annual private investigator salary in Florida was $43,980.  Those in the top ten percent of wage earners made $65,550 a year.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Florida

The average salary for selected cities in Florida is listed below, followed by the salary of those in the top ten percent of the field:

Florida City
Average Annual Salary
Jacksonville
$43760
Miami
$52820
Orlando
$44830
Tampa
$42050

The metropolitan area with the highest average salary of Florida cities listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota.  It was $54,500 in 2012.

Private investigators working outside of cities can also earn high salaries in Florida.  The average wage in the nonmetropolitan area of northeast Florida was $41,110—the top paying nonmetropolitan area in the country.

Private investigators in Florida that specialize in finance and insurance can expect to earn significantly more than the average, according to the state of Florida.  Their median salary was $66,143 as compared to $41,200 for private investigators as a whole in the state.  Only five percent of Florida’s PIs were employed in this area, however.

Licensing through the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is required to become a private investigator in Florida. A Class “C” license is required for individuals who work as private investigators in Florida.  An additional Class “G” license is required for PIs who wish to carry a firearm.

To obtain a Class “C” license, applicants must either have two years of verifiable full-time experience working in investigations.  Education in criminal justice, law enforcement administration, criminology or having obtained training for law enforcement officers can substitute for a year of this experience.

Detailed salary information on selected cities in Florida is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is presented below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Florida

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach FL
Estimate not released
42510
Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach FL Metropolitan Division
180
49840
Gainesville FL
50
34340
Jacksonville FL
Estimate not released
43760
Lakeland-Winter Haven FL
60
35360
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach FL
670
47460
Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall FL Metropolitan Division
190
52820
North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota FL
Estimate not released
54500
Ocala FL
Estimate not released
32820
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford FL
200
44830
Port St. Lucie FL
Estimate not released
40040
Tallahassee FL
120
34640
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater FL
360
42050
West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach FL Metropolitan Division
Estimate not released
42690
Northeast Florida nonmetropolitan area
30
41110

 


 

Georgia

There are currently 513 private detective companies operating across the Peach State, employing approximately 1,513 detectives. Working in private investigator jobs in Georgia, you will find individuals and companies will seek your services to uncover everything from spousal trysts to corporate espionage. A career in this field is not for everyone, but if you’re the type of person that enjoys conducting meticulous investigations, working odd hours in at-times potentially dangerous situations, and can meld with people from a variety of backgrounds then you may wish to consider the following guide.

Step 1. Choosing your Route of Employment

There are two ways of working as a private investigator in Georgia: working for yourself or working for someone else. Working for yourself is more complicated and requires a license and years of previous experience either in law enforcement or private investigations, or a university degree, plus bigger financial burdens including:

    • $25,000 bond
    • $1 million liability insurance policy
    • Net worth of $50,000 or more

It is easier to start off in the private investigations field by registering to work under an already established company. To do this you simply need to meet the minimum requirements and your employer will register you with the Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies.

Step 2. Meeting the Basic Requirements

All private detectives working in Georgia need to be registered as an employee of a private detective business, be it as a sole proprietor, as the manager of your own company, or with another agency. It is therefore your employer (or yourself if you are the owner of the business) who registers you with the Secretary of State’s Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies.

In order to become registered you will need to meet some basic private investigator minimum requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have integrity and a good moral character
  • Be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident entitled to work in the U.S.
  • No convictions for felonies, crimes involving weapons, or crimes of moral turpitude; however considerations will be made on a case-by-case basis
  • Have not committed any acts of fraud or dishonesty

Step 3. Education Qualifications

Private Investigator School Requirements in Georgia

If you are applying for a license for your own private investigations business you will need to meet some additional requirements that can be fulfilled by having a four-year degree in Criminal Justice or a related field.

The following certificate and degree programs are available across Georgia both online and at campus-based schools:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Criminal Justice
  • Forensics
  • Psychology
  • Business

Establishing a Foundation for the Future

Even if you are just starting out as a private investigator registered with another company you will have more options and a better foundation when coming from a well-developed educational background. Demonstrating that you have acquired key skills in the field can also help your employment prospects, not to mention future career advancements into areas such as law enforcement.

Step 4. Basic Training

To work as a private detective in Georgia you will need to complete a basic training course. You have the option of completing this within six months of being hired, and the course must be from a state-approved provider and include:

  • 70 hours of classroom instruction including:
    • Industry history
    • Criminal law
    • Search and seizure
    • Crime scene investigation
    • Witness and suspect interviewing
    • Surveillance

If you choose to carry a firearm you will additionally have to take the Firearm Training Curriculum for Handguns course. You should also make sure you are familiar with the state laws and statutes regarding private investigator individuals and companies.

Step 5. Application for Employment

You will need to submit the following to your employing private detective agency so they can complete your registration form and you can begin working:

  • Fingerprints and consent for a background investigation. These are administered through Cogent Services GAPS and when completing your online application for $52.75 you will need the following:
    • ORI number: GA920240Z
    • Verification code: 920240Z
  • Proof of your private detective certification classes, if completed (must be completed within 90 days of hire)
  • Any weapons permits and certifications

Your hiring detective company must also pay a $45 registration fee, and an extra $25 fee if you are being registered as an armed detective.

Step 6. Working in Georgia

Private investigators need to complete 16 hours of continuing education through an approved agency each year. The agency with which you are registered can assist you with this and you can also consult with professional associations.

Joining a professional organization such as the Georgia Association of Professional Private Investigators (GAPPI) or the Investigative and Security Professional Association of Georgia (ISPAG) is a good way to find support and advice from colleagues, expand your networking opportunities, and stay up-to-date on the latest developments in your field. Professional organizations can also offer you tips on the process of how to become a private detective in Georgia.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Georgia

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for private investigators in Georgia was $40,580 with experienced PIs in the top ten percent of salary earners making $70,480.

The median salary for selected cities in the state are listed below, followed by the average salaries of those in the top ten percent:

Georgia City
Average Annual Salary
Atlanta
$41570
Augusta
$42820

Georgia is a good area to find employment as a private investigator, since the Atlanta area had the seventh highest level of employment of PIs in the country in 2012.  Seventy-seven percent of the state’s PIs were based in this area.

The employment levels of private investigators in Georgia are expected to increase substantially through 2020.  Statistics from the BLS indicate that there were 570 PIs employed in the state in 2012.  Georgia’s Workforce Statistics & Economic Research estimates that there will be 670 jobs for private investigators in 2020.  This represents an increase of 17.5%

According to the state of Georgia’s Workforce Statistics & Economic Research, the top four employers of private investigators, by percentage of employed PI’s, in 2010 were:

  • Management of companies and enterprises:  16.8%
  • Insurance carriers:  16.6%
  • Investigation and security services:  12.9%
  • Business Support Services:  11.8%

These industries accounted for over half of the employment of private investigators in Georgia.

The steps involved in becoming a private investigator in Georgia vary depending on whether applicants wish to be hired by a private detective company or whether they wish to start their own company.

Employees of detective agencies do not need to be licensed in Georgia.  Company owners, on the other hand, are required to obtain a license from the Georgia Board of Private Detectives and Security Agencies.  A substantial amount of experience, along with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field, is required to apply for this license.

Detailed information on salaries and employment levels of private investigators in selected cities in Georgia are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The data for the two areas that employ 84% of Georgia’s PIs are listed below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Georgia

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta GA
440
44900
Augusta-Richmond County GA-SC
40
43540

 


 

Hawaii

Although private detectives do not engage in high-speed chases and public shoot-outs like in the movies or on TV, there is still plenty of suspense to be found with private investigator jobs in Hawaii. Conducting surveillance, sting and undercover operations, and detective work are all part of the job description for today’s PIs. The Board of Private Detectives and Guards is responsible for regulating private investigators working in the Aloha State, and makes a distinction between private detective agencies employing more than one detective, sole proprietors where agents work alone, and detectives working under a supervising private investigator.

Step 1. Meeting the Basic Qualifications in Hawaii

In order to be registered or licensed for private investigator jobs in Hawaii, all applicants need to meet the following minimum qualifications:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have no psychological or psychiatric disorders which would negatively and directly affect your ability to conduct the duties of a private investigator
  • Have no convictions for crimes which would reflect negatively on you while acting as a private investigator
  • Have a personal and financial history of being honest, truthful, and fair

Step 2. Education and Experience Requirements in Hawaii

Private investigator school requirements in Hawaii mandate the completion of high school or its equivalent. You must also have four years of full-time work in any of the following positions to start your own practice:

  • Police officer
  • Government-employed investigator at any level (federal, state, county, or city)
  • Attorney or law-firm investigator
  • Private investigator working under the supervision of a private detective

If you have equivalent military certification classes or training experience, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs may consider this as fulfilling relevant private detective training and certification requirements.

Competitive Education

Regardless of whether you are going into business for yourself or another agency, having a solid educational background in relevant subject areas can increase your effectiveness as a private investigator and your future career prospects.

There are a number of campus locations and online schools across Hawaii offering certificate and degree programs in areas of study relevant to private investigators, including:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Law
  • Criminal Psychology
  • Law Enforcement

Step 3. Choosing to Work Under a Private Investigator or for Yourself in Hawaii

If you cannot meet the four-year experience requirement to start your own practice, you can still work under the supervision of a private investigator. You will need to complete a $64 fingerprint and background check with Fieldprint, Inc for your hiring agency, who will in turn need to complete the following:

  • Make sure you meet the minimum requirements from step one
  • Register you with the Board of Private Detectives and Guards twice each year by July 31st and January 31st

You should also make yourself familiar with the laws applying to your field: Hawaii Revised Statutes chapters 463, 463b, 703 and 396, and the Hawaii Administrative Rules title 16 chapter 97.

If you go into business for yourself you will need to pass a $50 private investigator exam which covers these state laws and statutes, for which the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) also provides additional study material references. You can check with the DCCA for the exam schedule, and you will register for the exam as part of your application for a license as a private investigator in Hawaii.

Step 4. Working in Hawaii

If you are an employee of a private investigator your only requirement to continue working will be to maintain a clean criminal record and not become involved in any immoral or questionable activities.

If you are working as a sole-proprietor or in charge of your own agency you will need to meet certain other private investigator training requirements and renew your license every two years. The following fees will apply:

Whatever path to employment you choose, it is important to regularly check with Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Professional and Vocational Licensin Branch for any updates in the private investigations field. The branch also offers tips on how to become a private detective in Hawaii. You may also consider checking with the Hawaii Legislature  for any changes or updates in PI law.

To become a private investigator in Hawaii, a license from the Board of Private Detectives and Guards is required.  This Board is part of the Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs for the state of Hawaii.

There are strict requirements to obtain a license in Hawaii.  Four years of full-time work as an investigator is required, along with a high school diploma or GED.  Applicants must submit their fingerprints to the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center and undergo a criminal background check.  In addition, they must pass a written exam with a score of at least 75%.

The number of licenses that had been issued as of 2012 was greater than the number of people working as private investigators in Hawaii.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 91 licenses were active at that time.

Private detectives in Hawaii seek out a variety of different types of information, including:

  • The whereabouts of missing persons
  • Crimes and thefts
  • Obtaining confidential information

They may work for the public, businesses, or attorneys.  Common types of investigations include:

  • Ascertaining whether individuals claiming workman’s compensation are truly injured
  • Determining whether a loved one or spouse is committing infidelity
  • Finding the heirs to inheritances
  • Determining whether a potential investor is trustworthy


Private Investigator Salary Information for Hawaii

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, forty private investigators were employed in Hawaii in 2012. Seventy-five percent of them were located in Honolulu.  Hawaii’s Technology Workforce projects the number of jobs in this field to grow by 33% between 2011 and 2021.

Salary data for private investigators in the state as a whole and for Honolulu are listed below.  The annual median wage is listed first, followed by the annual salary of experienced professional investigators in the 90th wage percentile.

Hawaii City
Average Annual Salary
Hawaii-statewide
$51760
Honolulu
$48110

Detailed information on the hourly and annual salaries of private investigators in 2012 is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Such information is presented for Honolulu below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Hawaii

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Honolulu HI
30
57220

 


 

Idaho

Idaho is currently one of the six states in the country that do not require a specific license for private investigators. However, this does not mean there are private detectives operating carelessly throughout the Gem State; on the contrary, private investigators often interpret the lack of state regulation as a cue for greater personal accountability.

Besides maintaining a strict code of ethics, private investigators must also attract business, be aware of relevant state and federal laws, obtain a business license, and keep good records for investigations and taxes. There is a concentration of licensed PIs around Boise and other urban centers like Idaho Falls, Nampa, or Pocatello.

Step 1. Educational and Training Preparations in Idaho

Education Preparations

Before opening up shop as a private investigator you should prepare yourself to be as competitive in your field as possible. Having either education or experience will show your potential customers that you have qualifications to back up your job description.

There are a number of degree and certificate programs available in schools across the state though which residents can gain pertinent qualifications for private investigator jobs in Idaho, as well as to better facilitate future career mobility. Relevant degree options include:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Law
  • Business
  • Psychology
  • Law Enforcement

Training Preparations

There are also a variety of training and certification classes available across the state in areas that develop critical private investigator skills. These include:

  • Firearms and non-lethal weapons courses
  • CPR and first aid
  • Citizen police academies
  • Homeland security classes

Step 2. Obtaining a Business License in Idaho and Other Requirements

Obtaining a business license is a relatively straightforward process that you can complete online. The State of Idaho offers information on government regulations that apply to your business as well as what type of business entity you should establish. There are associated fees that depend on what type of business you create and how many, if any, employees you will have.

Clients and companies who hire you as a private investigator may also be interested in the following:

  • Results of any state and federal background checks
  • References who can attest to your moral character
  • Employment and military history, if any
  • Whether or not you carry a firearm

Step 3. Growing Your Business in Idaho and Keeping your License Current

As you become more established as a successful private detective your reputation and client list will grow. You may choose to hire more employees or raise your compensation rates and choose a particular area of specialization. In either case you will need to stay abreast of the relevant city, county, state, and federal laws regulating the operation of your business.

You will also need to keep up with laws pertaining to private detective training and certification in Idaho, as these can and do change. In 1998 a house bill was introduced that would have mandated private investigator school and training requirements in Idaho, though it was not passed. Periodically checking for any legal updates with the State Legislature is recommended, and you may also consider joining a local professional organization such as the Private Investigators Association of Idaho (PIAI), where you can find networking opportunities, support among colleagues, and tips on how to become a successful private detective in Idaho.

The field of private investigation is a growing field with a 20.7% increase in jobs projected nationally from 2010 through 2020.  In Idaho, the average annual salaries for September 2013 are available from Indeed.com.

They are as follows:

  • Private detective:  $21,000
  • Private investigator:  $25,000

Private investigators in Idaho come from a variety of backgrounds.  Many are retired military veterans or law enforcement officials.  Other individuals obtain degrees in criminal justice or police science before they start work as a private investigator.  In the U.S. as a whole, 52% of active private investigators have a bachelor’s degree.

No specific license is required to become a private investigator in Idaho.  As is the case for most professionals, a business license is generally required.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Idaho

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides information on the types of employment of private investigators in the U.S.  Most private investigators work for firms that specialize in investigative and security services.  Forty-seven percent of the country’s PIs are so employed.  The other four industries with the highest levels of employment of private investigators are:

  • Local government
  • Legal services
  • Management of companies and enterprises
  • State government

Almost 21% of the country’s private investigators worked for these types of industries.  Of these four categories, the highest annual mean wage was earned by investigators working in legal services.

The top paying jobs in the country are in the following areas:

  • Management, scientific, and technical consulting services
  • Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution
  • Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing
  • Aerospace product and parts manufacturing
  • Computer systems design and related services

The salaries for private investigators employed in these types of firms averaged 39-45% more than the mean annual salary in the U.S in 2012 according to the BLS.

 


 

Illinois

Illinois has a well-developed procedure for becoming a licensed private investigator. Working as a PI in the Land of Lincoln offers you the opportunity of big-city cases in Chicago involving industrial espionage or uncovering political corruption. Of course, the more typical urban and rural assignments include investigations into fidelity, insurance fraud, or the location of persons in cities like Aurora, Rockford, and Joliet.

Step 1. Determining Your Application Route in Illinois

You can apply for a license for private investigator jobs in Illinois based on either set of qualifications:

  • Experience
  • Education and experience

Once you meet the training requirements, pass an exam, complete the rest of the application materials, and are successfully licensed you will have the following options:

  • Work for another private investigator
  • Go into business as a sole-proprietor
  • Enter into a PI partnership
  • Form a PI corporation
  • Form a PI limited liability company (LLC)

Step 2. Qualifying for the PI Exam and License in Illinois

Based on Experience

If you are applying for a PI license exam based on your experience you will need to submit proof of working for three of the past five years in any one of the following:

  • As a full-time private detective
  • As a full-time investigator in any one of the following:
    • Federal, state, county, or city law enforcement department
    • State’s Attorney’s or Public Defender’s office
    • Military police, also must submit DD 214

Based on Education and Experience

You can also qualify for a PI license by meeting certain private investigator school requirements in Illinois. If you have an associate’s degree in law enforcement or a related field this may substitute for one year of qualified experience as mentioned above. Having a bachelor’s degree in a field related to law enforcement will substitute for two years of qualified experience as mentioned above.

Certificate programs and degrees in related subject areas will not only reduce the required prerequisite years of work experience required but also give you a solid grounding in crucial aspects of the private investigations field. The following majors can also be advantageous to improving your career mobility towards a field such as law enforcement:

  • Psychology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Business
  • Forensics
  • Law
  • Public Administration

Other Minimum Requirements

You must also be able to meet the following minimum requirements to be eligible for private investigator jobs in Illinois:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Either no felony convictions or 10 years have passed since your sentence was completed
  • May not be a registered sex offender
  • Must be of good moral character
  • Be psychologically and physically fit for the duties of a private detective
  • Have no narcotic or alcohol addictions

Step 3. Private Investigator Training Requirements in Illinois

Completing the 20-hour Training Course

You will also need to complete a private detective training course before or within 30 days of hire. This must be administered by a qualified instructor who provides information in:

  • Illinois laws and statutes
  • Arrest and control techniques
  • Identification of terrorists and terrorist organizations
  • Use of force including lethal and non-lethal
  • Public relations and civil rights

Within six months of employment you will need to complete an additional eight hours of training in a pertinent subject. To prove you have completed the necessary training you will need to submit your basic training certification.

Completing the 40-hour Firearm Training Course

If you are otherwise legally able to carry a firearm and choose to do so while working, you will need to complete a qualified 40-hour firearm training course that includes:

  • 20 hours of classroom instruction including:
    • Law and the use of force
    • Law, private police, and law enforcement reporting
    • Fire prevention
  • Range instruction in:
    • Combat shooting
    • Double-action shooting
    • Positioning

If you have already completed a similar course you may be eligible to submit a waiver of firearms training.

Step 4. Submitting a Complete Application for Licensure in Illinois

Along with your complete application for licensure based either on experience or experience and education, you will also need to submit the following to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the agency responsible for issuing your license:

  • Criminal background check
  • Proof of a $1 million liability insurance policy
  • $291 examination fee
  • Once you are eligible to be licensed you will be notified of the licensure fee
  • Fingerprints and authorization for a background check with the Illinois State Police
  • If you are choosing to carry a firearm you will need to submit either your firearm training certification or a waiver of firearm training if you have already completed comparable training

Step 5. Taking the Illinois PI Exam

You can register for your PI exam as part of your application for licensure or online. The exam is administered by the private vendor Continental Testing Services and includes an evaluation of your knowledge in the areas of:

  • State and federal laws
  • Practice and licensing requirements
  • Analysis, presentation, and reporting
  • Case management
  • Gathering evidence and information

The vendor provides a practice test and study guide and you should also know the Illinois laws regulating private investigators:

Step 6. Working as a Private Detective in Illinois

You can renew your license online, which expires on May 31st every three years. Every year you will need to complete eight hours of refresher training or classes in a relevant area and must also maintain your good moral character qualification.

You may find additional tips on how to become a private detective by joining professional organizations such as the Associated Detectives and Security Agencies of Illinois (ADSAI). Here you can also find advice, networking opportunities, and legal updates among fellow professionals in your field.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Illinois

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 1,050 private investigators were employed in Illinois in 2012.  Illinois’ Worknet Center states that the field of private investigation is one of the top 50 fastest growing occupations in the state.  About 110 job openings are expected each year.

The state of Illinois projects the percentage of job growth of private investigators to be greater than 15% in the following areas:

  • Bloomington area:  28.8%
  • Champaign area:  26.3%
  • Will County:  22.4%
  • Cook County:  22.0%
  • Springfield area:  20.5%
  • Lake County:  16.7%
  • Northwest Illinois area:  16.7%
  • DeKalb-Elgin-Aurora area:  16.0%

The average salary for private investigators in Illinois was $40,550 in 2012 according to the BLS.  PIs with experience who were in the top tenth earned $66,960 that year on average.  Over half of the private investigators in Illinois are located in the Chicago metropolitan area.  They averaged $44,740 a year with the top earners making a salary of $71,250 on average.

Employment was also high in the nonmetropolitan area of west central Illinois with the area having the greatest concentration of jobs of any nonmetropolitan area in the U.S.  The 100 investigators in this area averaged $23,880 a year with the top earners making $30,310.

Licensing is required for private investigators that work in Illinois.  Applicants must pass an exam before they can apply to the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation for a license.  At this time, they must have proof of having at least $1 million in liability insurance.  Licenses are valid for six years in Illinois.

Additional requirements must be fulfilled to work as an armed PI.  Applicants must be at least 21 years old and have completed a forty-hour firearm training course within a two year period before applying.  They must also provide their social security number that will be used to check records confirming that there are no tax or child support liabilities.

Detailed information on the hourly and annual wages of private investigators in different areas of Illinois is available from the BLS.  Their salary and employment data on Illinois is shown below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Illinois

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville IL Metropolitan Division
690
43610
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville IL-IN-WI
770
44740
Lake County-Kenosha County IL-WI Metropolitan Division
Estimate not released
53350
St. Louis MO-IL
390
54460
West Central Illinois nonmetropolitan area
100
23880

 


 

Indiana

Private detectives or investigators in the Hoosier State work in a broad range of fields, doing everything from investigating public and private corruption to locating missing persons for loved ones or bounty hunters. Going to work for a private investigator agency in Indiana is relatively easy and does not require a license. However starting your own private investigator business, even if you are the only person working there, does require a license. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of how to become a private investigator in Indiana:

Step 1. Meeting Basic Qualifications in Indiana

To obtain a license for private investigator jobs in Indiana you will need to meet the following conditions:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have at least two years (4,000 hours) of work experience in the investigations or security field; or meet the approved education equivalent
  • Possess professional liability insurance of at least $100,000 that lists the State of Indiana as an additional insured
  • Have no convictions for felonies or crimes that would have a direct bearing on your ability to act as a PI
  • Not currently be on probation or parole

Private Investigator School Requirements in Indiana

In place of the requirement for two years of work experience in the investigations or security field, you may substitute the approved education equivalent of a four-year degree in criminal justice.

In general, having a foundation in a relevant area of education demonstrates that you are a serious and capable candidate to prospective employers and provides you with vital skills that will prepare you for success as well as future career advancement and flexibility. In addition to criminal justice, certificates and degrees in the following can be useful in the private detective field:

  • Business
  • Law
  • Psychology
  • Law Enforcement
  • Public Administration

Step 2. Working for a PI Agency to Gain the Necessary Experience in Indiana

Because of the two-year experience requirement to become licensed, most private detectives start out by working for a licensed private investigator. When you work under a licensed PI, he or she is responsible for your professional conduct and must request the following from you:

  • Current photograph upon hire
  • Full set of fingerprints

Because the licensed private detective is responsible for you, he or she may also require:

  • Criminal background check
  • Your employment history
  • Character references
  • Drug testing

Step 3. Licensure with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency

Because the State of Indiana only provides PI licenses to business entities and not individuals, even if you decide to work alone, becoming licensed for private detective jobs means applying with a Firm Application. Along with this you will need to submit the following to the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency’s Private Investigator and Security Guard Licensing Board based out of Indianapolis:

  • Verification of two years of acceptable work experience
  • Criminal background history and fingerprint check
  • Proof of liability insurance for at least $100,000
  • $300 application fee

Step 4. Working in Indiana

As you develop in your career field and gain experience you may find it beneficial to join a professional organization of colleagues such as the Indiana Society of Professional Investigators (INSPI) or the Indiana Association of Professional Investigators (IAPI). With these agencies you can find additional suggestions on how to become a licensed private detective, opportunities for private detective training and certification classes, as well as further networking and business tips. 

It is also advisable to keep up on any changing laws or requirements in the PI field. Finally, you should always be familiar with the current laws and codes. You will always be held accountable to these whether you are in one of the larger cities like Fort Wayne, Evansville, or South Bend or in one of the most sparsely populated counties.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Indiana

Nearly three hundred private investigators were employed in Indiana in 2012 based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Their ranks are projected to grow by 18.6% through 2016 according to the state of Indiana’s projections for high-salary, high-demand occupations.

The annual median income and the average salary earned by those investigators in the top tenth percentile are shown below for the state as a whole and for the 31% of the state’s PIs that work in Indianapolis:

Indiana City
Average Annual Salary
Indiana-statewide
$42980
Indianapolis
$41950

Individual employees of a private investigation firm do not need a license, but Indiana has stringent requirements for those in charge of detective agencies.  Applicants to the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency must have criminal background checks completed by each county, city, and state that they have lived in within the past seven years.  It is highly important that the background checks be completed at each local jurisdiction.

A fingerprint background check by the Indiana State Police is also required.  In addition, applicants must have proof that they have at least $100,000 of limited liability insurance.  The state of Indiana must be listed as an additional insured.  Four thousand hours of experience as an investigator is also required to obtain a license in Indiana.  A private investigator’s license in this state does not grant the right to carry a firearm.

The jobs of private investigators can be highly varied.  Some PIs specialize in financial investigation.  They may investigate potential investors to ensure they are on the up and up.  Others perform surveillance—ensuring that those claiming workman’s compensation are truly injured or checking on potential infidelity by spouses or other loved ones.

Salary data on additional locations in Indiana is available from the BLS.  The levels of employment, annual, and hourly salary data are shown below for these areas.

Private Investigator Salaries in Indiana

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Cincinnati-Middletown OH-KY-IN
50
52840
Indianapolis-Carmel IN
90
41950
Louisville-Jefferson County KY-IN
Estimate not released
39390

 


 

Iowa

Under the Department of Public Safety, the Private Investigator Licensing Services Bureau headquartered in Des Moines is the agency responsible for issuing private investigator licenses in the state.

There is no typical day in the life of a private investigator. You may find yourself conducting an undercover op in Cedar Rapids one week, investigating a suspected case of fraud in Sioux City the next week, and locating a missing person in Davenport the week after. Not as glamorous as Hollywood makes them out to be, private detective jobs in Iowa often involve long hours of research and investigation before cases are resolved.

Step 1. Meet Basic Requirements in Iowa

To become a licensed private investigator in Iowa you will need to meet the following basic requirements:

  • Not currently be a peace officer: sheriff’s deputy, police officer, etc
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have no aggravated misdemeanor or felony convictions
  • Be of good moral character
  • Have never been judged guilty of a crime involving moral turpitude or fraud
  • No history of violence or illegally carrying dangerous weapons
  • Not currently be addicted to alcohol or drugs

Step 2. Private Investigator Training and School Requirements in Iowa

Although there are no official private investigator school and training requirements in Iowa, there are several reasons why you should consider pursuing training, certification classes or a degree in relevant fields.

A formal education provides the following benefits:

  • Education credentials will demonstrate you are serious about your job
  • Show you are qualified with the right know-how to get the job done well
  • Open up future career advancement prospects
  • Increase your competitiveness for clients among other PIs in the Hawkeye State

The following programs are available as certificate classes and degrees at locations throughout the state as well as online:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Law
  • Business
  • Law Enforcement
  • Psychology
  • Forensics

Step 3. Applying with the Private Investigator Licensing Services Bureau in Iowa

When completing a license for private investigator jobs in Iowa, make sure to include the following along with your complete application:

  • Two fingerprint cards
  • $140 total fee for fingerprinting, licensing, and ID card
  • Proof of a surety bond of at least $5,000
  • Proof of liability insurance covering accidents, wrongdoings, and subsequent consequences

Step 4. Maintaining Your Iowa Private Detective License

Your PI license will expire every two years. To renew this you will need to maintain compliance with the minimum qualifications from the first step and submit the following to the Bureau at least 30 days before your license expires:

  • Two completed FBI fingerprint cards
  • Renewal form
  • Proof of 12 hours of continuing education
  • Proof of continued insurance coverage and a maintained surety bond

You may determine which continuing education courses are right for you on the condition that these are formal programs of learning that contribute directly to your professional competence.

If you choose to carry a firearm you must follow the appropriate state laws.

Monitoring the State Legislature is a good way to stay informed about the current laws and statutes regulating the private detective profession in the Iowa. If you are interested in additional private detective training opportunities you may consider joining a professional organization such as the Iowa Association of Private Investigators (IAPI). The IAPI can provide you with legal information, training resources, networking opportunities as well as additional tips on how to become a private investigator in Iowa.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Iowa

Estimates from the State’s Workforce Development indicated that 70 such investigators worked in Iowa during that year.

The average salary for private investigators is listed based on the different sources, followed by the average salary of experienced professionals who were among the top earners:

Federal or State Estimate
Average Annual Salary
State Estimate
$48485
Federal Estimate
$43940

The future of the private investigation field is promising.  Nationally, the ranks of private investigators are estimated to grow by 21% from 2010 to 2012.  This increase is projected to be faster than average compared to other types of jobs.

A license from the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Division of Administrative Services is required to become a private investigator in the state.  Applicants must submit two sets of fingerprints for a background check.  Those applying as individuals must provide proof of insurance in the form of a $5,000 surety bond.

Private investigators can hold a variety of types of jobs.  The industries with the highest levels of employment of private investigators include:

  • Investigation and security firms
  • Local governmental agencies
  • Legal services
  • Management of companies and enterprises
  • State governmental agencies
  • Office administrative services
  • Aerospace product and parts manufacturing

There are a number of specialties for private investigators.  Some specialize in fraud such as tracking malfeasance committed over computers.  Others are skilled at physical surveillance:  ensuring that worker’s compensation claims are legitimate or tracking spouses suspected of having illegitimate affairs.  Another type of work for PIs is assisting defense attorneys by thoroughly investigating the circumstances of their case to try and clear the defendant of charges.

The BLS provides a detailed breakdown of employment levels, hourly, and annual wages for a region that is shared with Iowa.  This data is listed in the table below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Iowa

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Omaha-Council Bluffs NE-IA
250
61500

 


 

Kansas

The Office of the Attorney General is the licensing and regulating body for private detectives in Kansas, which monitors the 520 PIs working across the state along with the 120 licensed private detective agencies. Whether you are interested in private investigator jobs doing surveillance work in Wichita, locating a missing person in Overland Park, or tracking fugitives in Kansas City, to work legally in the Sunflower State you will need to obtain a license for private investigator operations.

Step 1. Initial Qualifications in Kansas

Your first step before doing anything else is to make sure you are eligible to become a private detective. That means meeting these minimum qualifications:

  • Be a U.S. citizen at least 21 years old
  • No felony convictions
  • No misdemeanor convictions in the past 10 years
  • Be mentally competent to fulfill the job duties of a private investigator
  • Be of good moral character

You must also meet the private investigator school requirement of having either graduated from high school or obtained a GED equivalency.

In addition to a high school education, you can also consider pursuing a certificate or degree program in a PI-related field. Demonstrating an educational background to your prospective employers or clients can improve the success of your career in addition to broadening your future options. It will also ensure you are capable of carrying out your duties in a safe and efficient manner.

Certification classes and degree programs are offered online and across the State of Kansas in the following fields:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Law Enforcement
  • Business Administration
  • Public Administration
  • Psychology

Step 2. Preparing for Your Application for Licensure in Kansas

You will fill out the same application for licensure whether you plan to work for a private investigator agency, or go into business for yourself as the owner of a PI agency. However if you are planning to be the owner of an agency you will need to fill out an additional application. You will also need to prepare the following before you make your initial application:

  • Complete the Private Detective Licensing Act Exam which is part of the initial application and covers:
  • $100,000 in any one of the following:
    • Corporate surety bond
    • General insurance liability including property damage or bodily injury caused by negligence, errors, or omissions
    • Cash deposit with the State Treasurer
  • Optional Firearm Permit: If you choose to carry a firearm while working you will need to complete the following private investigator training requirements:
    • Complete a 16-hour training course covering the lawful use of force and firearm handling for which you will receive a notice of completion. You may substituted for this by showing proof of completion of a full-time law enforcement training course
    • You must accurately fire 35 out of 50 rounds into the center of mass of a target whose distance ranges between three and 75 feet
    • Pay a $50 permit fee

Step 3. Submit your Application for Kansas Licensure with the Attorney General

When making your application to the Attorney General in Topeka be sure to include the following:

  • Complete application
  • Complete Private Detective Licensing Act Exam
  • Fingerprint cards and permission for a background investigation
  • Proof of surety bond, insurance coverage, or cash deposit
  • Proof of education
  • DD 214 for military service personnel
  • Five personal references from U.S. citizens who have known you at least five years
  • Application fee:
    • $250 if you will work for an agency or work independently
    • $100 if you are the owner, partner, or associate of a PI agency

Step 4. Maintaining Your Practice in Kansas

As you are busy developing your career do not forget you will need to renew your license every two years. If you choose to carry a firearm this also means taking another private detective training course in firearms every two years. To complete these tasks you will need to submit the following to the Attorney General:

You may also find it to your advantage to join a professional organization of your colleagues such as the Kansas Association of Private Investigators (KAPI) or the Kansas Association of Licensed Investigators (KALI). With either of these agencies you can develop networking opportunities, find additional information on how to become a private investigator in Kansas, and learn about firearm certification classes.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Kansas

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that 110 private investigators were employed in Kansas in 2012.  Their average annual salary was $46,070, while experienced investigators in the top 10th wage percentile earned $76,120 a year.

The Kansas Labor Market Information Service has provided 2012 salary data for private investigators working in Kansas City, Kansas.  Their average salary was $47,108, while experienced PIs in the upper two thirds of their wage bracket made $51,753 on average.

Individuals who want to become a private investigator in Kansas have to be licensed by the Kansas Attorney General.  This is done through the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.  Applicants must be at least 21 years old and pass an examination to be eligible to get a PI’s license.  They must also have proof of one of the following:

  • $100,000 corporate surety bond
  • General liability insurance providing coverage for bodily injury or property damage that provides $100,000 of coverage
  • $100,000 deposit with the State Treasurer

Two sets of fingerprint cards are also required, so that a background check can be conducted.

Once an applicant has received his or her license to operate as a private investigator in Kansas, there are a number of different types of employment options.  Many private investigators work for insurance companies and double check that people who have filed workman’s compensation claims are truly injured.

Other PIs work for individuals.  This can range from performance surveillance on spouses to make sure they are not cheating to checking out potential investment companies to make sure that they are legitimate.

Defense attorneys are another source of employment.  Particularly with serious crimes, attorneys rely on private investigators to provide accurate information about the person’s background and details for the crime they were alleged to have committed.  Sometimes this can lead to the defendant being exonerated.

Detailed information on the employment levels, annual, and hourly salaries of private investigators in Kansas is provided by the BLS.  In the case of Kansas, the following table of information is available on the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Private Investigator Salaries in Kansas

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Kansas City MO-KS
240
37120

 


 

Kentucky

Located just outside Lexington, the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Private Investigators issues PI licenses, in addition to communicating with PIs in the Bluegrass State about the most recent laws governing their profession. Whether you are interested in working for an established company or going in to private practice, obtaining a license is essential to working private investigator jobs. Private detectives operate in all areas of the state, from the Louisville Metro Area to Bowling Green, Owensboro and Covington. Typical services provided by PIs include working for legal teams, locating missing or absconded persons, and conducting surveillance ops.

Step 1. Minimum Qualifications in Kentucky

The first step you need to take towards your goal of becoming licensed for private investigator jobs in Kentucky is to ensure you meet the following minimum qualifications:

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Be of good moral character
  • Be a U.S. citizen or lawful resident alien
  • If you have any felony convictions, 10 years must have passed since the completion of your sentence
  • No convictions for crimes involving dishonesty or moral turpitude within the past five years
  • If you are a military veteran you must not have been dishonorably discharged
  • Be of sound mental capacity
  • No misdemeanor or higher convictions within the past three years for crimes involving controlled substances
  • May not have been enrolled in a facility or program for substance abuse in the past three years
  • May not chronically or habitually use alcohol or drugs

Step 2. Private Investigator School Requirements in Kentucky

Kentucky law stipulates private investigator school requirements to solely include the completion of high school or an equivalent. It is a good idea to make yourself as an attractive PI as possible, and having a degree or academic certification in a pertinent field can do just that. It also shows that you are serious about your profession, are thinking ahead to possible career advancements, and that you are a capable individual.

Certificates and degrees in the following fields are available online and throughout the Bluegrass State:

  • Business
  • Law Enforcement
  • Criminal Justice
  • Psychology
  • Forensics

Step 3. Submitting an Application with the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Private Detectives

When submitting an application for licensure you can begin by applying for an individual license. All private detectives operating in the state must at minimum be licensed individually.

Your Individual Application for Licensure should include:

  • $100 application fee
  • $300 license fee
  • $20 licensing request fee
  • Proof of affiliation from your employing PI agency, if any
  • Proof of a $250,000 for combined single-limit liability insurance – if you are solely employed by an attorney this is not necessary
  • Criminal history background check with three fingerprint cards for a $36.50 fee
  • Signed release for medical and psychological records

In addition to being licensed individually you may also need to complete a Company Application for Licensure if you are planning to form any of the following:

  • Sole-proprietorship, $100 application fee
  • Company, partnership, or corporation; $500 application fee

Keep in mind that the average time to evaluate an application for licensure is between two and three months.

Step 4. Private Investigator Exam in Kentucky

As part of the individual licensing process you will need to take the Private Investigator Exam. Once your application for licensure has been approved the Board will send you a study guide and scheduling information. You can begin preparing for the exam by studying the appropriate Kentucky Revised Statutes and Administrative Regulations, and the exam itself will include an evaluation of your knowledge regarding:

  • State and federal constitutional principles
  • Laws regarding eavesdropping, assault, search, seizure, and computer access
  • Relevant court decisions that have a bearing on liability

Step 5. Doing Business as a PI in Kentucky

Once you receive your PI license it will remain valid for two years. The Board will notify you of the renewal fee that will be between $50 and $250, and you will also need to complete a renewal application before your license expires.

Although there are currently no requirements for private detective training courses, certification classes, or continuing education, a provision for these does exist in the present Kentucky Revised Statutes. This is a good example why it is always a good idea to be familiar with the laws that pertain to the private investigator profession – these can change or be modified at any time.

You can keep up with legislation and other news by joining professional organizations such as the Kentucky Professional Investigators Association (KPIA) and the Kentucky Society of Professional Investigators (KSPI). These can also provide you with networking resources and additional information on how to become a private detective in the Bluegrass State.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Kentucky

Kentucky is a promising place to find work as a private investigator, since the state’s Department of Workforce Investment projects the growth in PI jobs to be 18.27% in the state.  This is based on estimates of the ten-year period leading up to 2018.

In 2012, private investigators earned $44,380 on average in Kentucky, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Those with experience who were in the top ten percent averaged $58,530 a year.

The average salaries for private investigators in selected areas of Kentucky are listed below, followed by the average salary for those in the top 10th percentile of their field:

Kentucky City
Average Annual Salary
Cincinnati-Middletown
$52840
Louisville-Jefferson County
$39390

A license from the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Private Investigators is required to become a private investigator in this commonwealth.  Applicants must be at least 21 years old and meet requirements for having good character and not having had a felony conviction in the past ten years.

Those who apply to be private investigators in Kentucky must also pass a state examination and provide proof of insurance.  A $250,000 combined single-limit policy is required.  Private investigators who work exclusively under an attorney’s supervision are exempt from this rule.

Once an aspiring private investigator has received his or her license in Kentucky, there are a variety of types of work for them.  PIs should be highly proficient with computers, since they will be regularly checking databases as part of background investigations.  Also, some PIs specialize in computer forensics.

Conducting surveillance is another area of specialty for some private investigators.  This can range from investigation of workmen’s comp claims for insurance companies to determining whether a spouse is being unfaithful.

Seeking missing persons is another area of expertise.  This can range from finding loved ones that have disappeared to finding those who are due to inherit money or property.

Detailed information on the hourly and annual wages of private investigators in different areas of the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 2012 are provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the table shown below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Kentucky

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Cincinnati-Middletown OH-KY-IN
50
52840
Louisville-Jefferson County KY-IN
Estimate not released
39390

 


 

Louisiana

From its headquarters in Baton Rouge, the Louisiana State Board of Private Investigator Examiners (LSBPIE) regulates both individual private investigators as well as investigation agencies across the Bayou State. There are currently over 1,200 licensed PIs working throughout Louisiana with a concentration in New Orleans, but also in places like Lafayette, Metairie, Shreveport, and even sparsely populated parishes. Many private detectives work in the over 600 PI agencies licensed in Louisiana. There are also 82 private investigator journeymen in the direct employ of licensed PIs.

Step 1. Meeting the Minimum Louisiana State Qualifications

Before you begin thinking about any private investigator training requirements you will need to start with the basics.
You must be able to meet the following to become a PI in Louisiana:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Be a United State citizen or authorized to legally work in the U.S.
  • Have no convictions for crimes of moral turpitude or felonies
  • May not be actively addicted to alcohol or drugs

Although there are no education or school requirements to become a licensed private investigator in Louisiana, having education in a relevant field will give your clients and employers assurance that you are a qualified and capable PI.

Having an appropriate certification or degree will also provide you with greater career flexibility in the future. The following programs are available online and at campus-based schools throughout the state:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Psychology
  • Forensics
  • Criminal Justice
  • Law

Step 2. Basic Training and Louisiana PI Exam

Another prerequisite on the road to obtaining a license for private investigator jobs in Louisiana is the basic training course, followed by an exam. Private detective certification classes must be obtained from an approved agency and be at least 40 hours in length. Topics covered include:

  • Louisiana state law
  • Use of force, both lethal and non-lethal
  • Safety procedures
  • Investigative techniques and report writing

After completing your 40 hours of training you will be prepared for the Private Investigator Exam. This covers your private investigator training, and before registering you should make sure you are familiar with private detective laws and regulations. You must also pay a $50 fee and obtain at least a 75 percent score in order to pass the exam. Apprentice private investigators may postpone their basic training and exam for up to one year.

Step 3. Private Investigator Classifications and License Applications in Louisiana

The LSBPIE recognizes several classifications of private investigator licenses in the state:

  • Apprentice license, $192.50 in total fees, nonrenewable
  • Individual license, $192.50 in total fees, $100 renewal fee
  • Journeyman license, $342.50 in total fees, $250 renewal fee
  • Agency license, $342.50 in total fees, $250 renewal fee

The distinguishing features for each of these types of licenses are:

  • An apprentice must complete the 40-hour basic training course and take the exam within one year of being hired, must be sponsored by a private investigation agency, and the license may not be renewed
  • An individual license allows an individual to conduct business as a private investigator with a registered sponsor agency
  • Journeymen only work with sponsoring private investigation agencies and do not provide direct services to the public, private businesses, or government agencies
  • An agency license allows for the hire or sponsorship of more than one licensed private investigator, whose director(s) must already hold either an individual or journeyman license and have at least three years of experience in the field

Applicants for all types of licenses must submit the following materials with their applications:

  • Two fingerprint cards
  • Criminal identification information
  • Any required sponsor agency forms

Step 4. Maintaining Your Practice in Louisiana

You will need to renew your license with the LSBPIE every year. Continuing private detective training requirements stipulate that every two years you must also submit proof of completion of at least eight hours of approved continuing education by your renewal date. If you choose to carry a firearm you must follow the normal state procedures.

Joining a professional organization of your peers such as the Louisiana Private Investigators Association (LPIA) can provide you with valuable networking opportunities, continuing education news, and additional advice on how to become a private detective in Louisiana.

A good way to be informed about the latest policies and procedures in your profession – always important for PIs who want to conduct business legally – is to stay in touch with the LSBPIE; you are always invited to attend the next board meeting.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 70 private investigators were employed in Louisiana in 2012.  Their ranks are expected to grow throughout much of the state.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Louisiana

Louisiana’s Occupational Employment Projections Program estimated the following rates of job growth from 2010 to 2020 in these Regional Labor Market Areas:

  • Lafayette:  24.2%
  • Monroe:  14.3%
  • Shreveport:  13.6%
  • New Orleans:  13.0%
  • Baton Rouge:  6.3%

The 2012 annual median salary, along with the average wage of experienced private investigators in the top tenth of their salary bracket are available from the BLS for the following areas:

Louisiana City
Average Annual Salary
Louisiana-statewide
$37170
Lafayette
$36610

The state of Louisiana requires a license from the state’s Board of Private Investigator Examiners to become a private investigator.  Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have not been convicted of felonies or crimes of moral turpitude.

A substantial amount of experience is required before one can apply for a license.  Applicants need to have at least three years of experience working as a private investigator or in some type of investigative capacity.  This must have taken place within the last ten years.

In addition, applicants must take a 40-hour training course in becoming a private investigator.  Then, they must achieve a score of at least 75% on an exam administered by the Board.

Once the applicants have passed the exam and received their license, they have a number of options of different types of work to do.  Some private investigators track down missing people, while others perform background checks on individuals for businesses and corporations.

Defense attorneys are another type of potential employer.  Having an unbiased individual examine the particulars of a case can help substantially with the attorney’s defense of their client.

Detailed information on employment levels, hourly, and annual wages of private investigators are provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  For Louisiana, information on Lafayette is available in the table shown below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Louisiana

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Lafayette LA
40
41990

 


 

Maine

Private investigators in Maine are referred to as professional investigators, where they are licensed and strictly regulated by the Maine State Police. Those who wish to be able to call themselves professional investigators in Maine must meet specific experience and training requirements.

Step 1. Meet General Qualifications for Professional Investigators in Maine

Before embarking on a course of action to become a private investigator in Maine, you must meet some basic qualifications:

  • You must be at least 21 years old
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien
  • You must be a high school graduate or hold a GED
  • You must have good moral character, partially demonstrated by:
    • No convictions of crimes punishable by a maximum imprisonment of over one year
    • No abuse incidents of family or household members in the past five years
    • Less than three convictions for Class D or E crimes in the past five years
    • Less than three convictions of civil crimes in the past five years
    • No negligent or reckless activities that endangered others’ safety in the past five years (includes the use of motor vehicles and/or weapons)
    • No failures to meet child or family support obligations
    • No dishonorable discharge from military service
  • You must meet educational and experience requirements (see Step 2)
  • You must pass an examination (see Step 4)

Step 2. Complete Education and Experience Requirements for Professional Investigators in Maine

Maine law states that you must meet one of the following education/experience combination requirements in order to be eligible to take the state’s private investigator licensing examination:

  • Option 1: Complete 60 college credits in private investigation or a related field or earn a certificate of study in private investigation; and complete a t least 1200 hours in an investigative assistant sponsorship program supervised by a sponsoring licensed private investigator
  • Option 2: Have at least three years of experience working full-time as a federal detective or investigator of the United States Armed Forces or  of a federal investigative agency
  • Option 3:  Have at least three years of employment as a law enforcement officer of a state or jurisdiction and met its training requirements
  • Option 4: Have at least six years of experience with a combination of the following:
    • Two years of work experience in a non-clerical profession related to criminal justice or law, and
    • Education consisting of one of the following choices:
      • An associate degree from an accredited institution in criminal justice, law, investigation, security management, police administration, computer forensics or another acceptable related discipline
      • 60 credits of college study from an accredited institution in one of the above-mentioned disciplines

If you have held a private investigator’s license in another state or territory for at least three years, that state grants reciprocity to Maine licensed private investigators, and that state’s licensing requirements are equivalent to those of Maine, you are exempt from meeting the education and experience requirements. You might also be exempt from taking the state examination.

You must also become certified in the use of firearms in Maine in order to become a private investigator. While no permits are necessary to own a firearm, certification and training in the proper use of firearms is necessary in order to receive a concealed carry permit. At minimum, you must complete a handgun safety course.

Step 3. Submit Maine Professional Investigator License Application and Supporting Documentation

When you have met the above qualifications, you are ready to submit the Maine Application for Professional Investigator License. Along with the completed application, you must submit:

  • Check or money order payable to Treasurer, State of Maine for $71 (includes application fee of $50 plus State Bureau of Identification record check fee of $21). (A final fee of $450 is due when you pass the Maine Professional Investigators Exam prior to issuance of your license)
  • A copy of your high school diploma or GED
  • A copy of your birth certificate/resident alien card
  • Copy of your military discharge, if applicable
  • Copy of any certificates you hold from law enforcement academy training and transcripts, if applicable
  • Copy of college diploma and transcripts, if applicable
  • Copy of documentation of your work history, including jobs, duties, and dates, signed by employer(s)
  • Three certifications from persons who have known you for at least three years. These are included in the application form, and must be signed by persons who live in your community, live in the community in which you work, or live in the community in which you plan to work
  • Signed Form P-3, giving your authority to all law enforcement agencies, courts, military forces, government agencies, hospitals and mental institutions to release information to the Chief of the Maine State Police for evaluation of your application
  • Signed Authorization to Release form giving your authority to the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center and the Riverview Psychiatric Center to release information to the Chief of the Maine State Police for evaluation of your application (must be signed and included with all applications, even if you were never a patient at either facility)
  • Signed Form 577, Client Authorization to release information to the Chief of the Maine State Police from the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center and the Riverview Psychiatric Center (must be signed and included with all applications, even if you were never a patient at either facility)

Mail all of the above to Department of Public Safety, Maine State Police, Special Investigations Unit, 164 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0164.

Step 4. Pass the Maine Professional Investigators Examination

After your application to become a private investigator in Maine is received by the Maine State Police and your background check is complete, you will be contacted to schedule a date and time to take the Maine Professional Investigators Examination. The exam consists of 50 multiple-choice and true-false questions, and is given on the third Thursday of every month. Contents of the exam include:

  • Laws relating to professional investigators
  • Laws relating to permits to carry concealed handguns
  • Title 17-A, Maine Criminal Statutes, Parts 1 (General Principles) and 2 (Substantive Offenses)

You must get at least 76 percent of the exam correct in order to pass. Once you pass the exam, the Maine State Police will send your insurance company an approval letter.

Step 5.  Obtain Commercial General Liability Insurance for Maine Professional Investigators

Under Maine law, you must obtain an occurrence-based Commercial General Liability insurance policy from an insurer who is licensed by the Maine Bureau of Insurance to do business in Maine before you will be issued a license to work as a professional investigator in the state. The minimum required amounts of coverage are as follows:

  • Property damage:  $10,000
  • Each occurrence limit:  $100,000
  • General aggregate limit:  $200,000

Your name must be listed on the policy along with your employer’s name, if your employer has its own liability insurance. Proof of insurance must identify the Certificate Holder as Maine State Police, Special Investigations Unit, 164 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.

You must also give to the Chief of Police a Surety Bond for $10,000 if you are a resident of Maine and $50,000 if you are not. A surety company authorized to work in Maine must execute the bond.

When your insurance company issues the bond and proof of commercial general liability insurance and you submit the final fee of $450 to the Maine State Police, you will receive your professional investigator’s license.

Step 6. Now That You’re a Professional Investigator in Maine

Congratulations! You are now a licensed professional investigator in the state of Maine! Your initial professional investigator’s license is valid for two years, at which time it must be renewed. Once renewed, you may apply for renewal every four years. At renewal, must submit the same three Authorities to Release documentation forms you initially submitted when you applied for the license, along with:

It will take the Special Investigations Unit about 6 to 8 weeks to process your renewal application, at which time you will receive an approval letter from them requesting a four-year continuation certification from your insurance company. Present this to the insurance company and send it, along with proof of commercial general liability insurance, and a current photograph of yourself, to Department of Public Safety, Maine State Police, Special Investigations Unit, 164 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0164. (If you have changed insurance companies, you must also submit a new surety bond form).


Private Investigator Salary Information for Maine

The field of private investigation in Maine is expected to grow nine percent in the ten year period leading up to 2016.  According to Maine’s Department of Labor, there were 167 individuals working as private investigators in the state in 2006.

The 2012 salaries of Maine’s private investigators are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The median salary for PIs in that year was $53,350, while those in the top ten percent of their salary bracket earned an average of $59,970.

Private investigators can work independently or be employed by a number of different types of industries.  Over 80% of Maine’s private investigators worked in the following three industries in 2001 according to Maine’s Department of Labor:

  • Business services:  41%
  • General merchandise stores:  22%
  • Insurance carriers:  19%

Individuals aspiring to work as private investigators in Maine must first get a license from the State Police Licensing Division.  Applicants must have reached the age of 18 and have a high school diploma or GED.  They also have to pass a criminal background check and take a written exam to be qualified.

In addition, applicants must have one of the following backgrounds to become a private investigator in Maine:

  • At least 1,700 hours working as an investigative assistant
  • One year of employment with a U.S. investigative service
  • One year of employment as a law enforcement officer
  • Have taken 60 college credits
  • Possess an associate’s degree in law enforcement

Specialty jobs for private investigators in Maine can include:

  • Alarm investigators
  • Fraud investigators
  • Gambling monitors
  • House officers
  • Railroad and transit police and special agents
  • Shopping investigators
  • Undercover operators in establishments

Some private investigators work for defense attorneys and examine the particulars of cases to try and help exonerate defendants.

 


 

Maryland

The state of Maryland requires that all private detectives become registered before they may legally practice in Maryland. Private investigators who wish to open their own agencies must also become licensed. Qualifications vary depending upon your status (i.e., if you work for a private detective agency or run your own private detective agency) and generally include training and experience.

Step 1. Meet Basic Qualifications for Private Detectives in Maryland

There are a few basic requirements that all applicants for private detective registration must meet before becoming registered to work in Maryland:

  • You must be at least 25 years sold
  • You must have good moral character and reputation
  • You must pass a criminal background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • You must be employed by/have an employment offer from a licensed private detective agency in Maryland
  • If applying for licensure for a private detective agency, you must meet experience requirements (see below)
  • If applying for handgun permit, you must meet training requirements (see below)

Step 2. Complete Training and Experience Requirements for Private Detectives in Maryland

Although education is not required to become an individual registered private investigator/private detective in Maryland, some type of formal training is recommended.

Obtaining certification or a college degree in one of the following areas is encouraged:

  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Experience is not required in order to receive private detective registration in Maryland. However, if you plan to open your own private detective agency in Maryland, this requires a license from the state. You must meet all of the following training and experience requirements before the state will issue you a license to start a private detective agency in Maryland:

  1. Five or more years of experience as a full-time certified or licensed private detective, AND
  2. Five or more years of experience as a full-time police officer, AND
  3. Completion of a police officer training course approved by the Maryland Police Training Commission, AND
  4. Three years of experience in investigation as a detective while working as a police officer

Alternatively, you may claim the following to meet C and D education and experience requirements for private detectives opening agencies in Maryland:

Step 3. Submit Maryland Private Detective Registration Application and Supporting Documentation

Private Detective Registration

In order to become a registered private detective in Maryland, you must:

  • Submit the Multiple Licensing Application, having pages 7 and 13 notarized
  • Submit one set of completed fingerprint cards (one purple CJIS fingerprint card and one blue and white FBI fingerprint card)
  • Submit two recent (taken in the last month) passport-type photos of yourself with a white background
  • Submit private detective registration fee of $15 via check or money order payable to Maryland State Police
  • Submit background check fee of $37.25 via check or money order payable to Maryland State Police
  • If requesting a handgun permit along with your private investigator registration, you must also submit:
    • Two additional recent (taken in the last month) passport-type photographs of yourself with a white background
    • $75 application fee via separate check/money order payable to Maryland State Police
    • Certificate of qualification with a handgun from a Maryland State Police Certified Handgun instructor on a Maryland State Police form
    • Copy of form letter (obtained by your private detective employer) supporting good and substantial reasons why you need a handgun permit, ownership of a weapon, and location of the handgun
  • Mail all of the above to Maryland State Police, Licensing Division, 1111 Reisterstown Rd, Pikesville, MD 21208. It may take up to 90 days for the background check to be completed and for your application to be approved. Once approved, you will receive a private detective identification card. This is valid for employment only with the private detective agency listed on your application. If you change employers, you must surrender your card to the Maryland State Police and register to work for another agency.

Private Investigation Agency License

In order to open your own licensed private investigation agency in Maryland, you must apply for a Private Detective Agency license:

  • Submit the Multiple Licensing Application, having pages 7 and 13 notarized
  • Submit two additional recent passport photos of yourself on a white background
  • Submit a copy of the Articles of Incorporation of your business and minutes of the last meeting that appointed officers of the corporation
  • If you are a foreign corporation, submit a copy of the receipt from the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation to certify that you are registered as a foreign corporation to do business in Maryland
  • Set of fingerprint cards (if not submitted above)
  • If you employ five or more people, submit a copy of the General Liability Insurance Policy of one million dollars
  • Correct fees:
    • Private Investigation Agency, not incorporated: $237.25
    • Private Investigation Agency, incorporated: $412.25
  • Mail all of the above to Maryland State Police, Licensing Division, 1111 Reisterstown Rd, Pikesville, MD 21208. It may take up to 90 days for the background check to be completed and your application to be approved.

Step 4. Now that You’re a Registered Private Detective in Maryland

Well done! You have completed all the requirements to become a registered private detective in Maryland!

You must renew your registration/certification every three years. You will be mailed renewal information from the Maryland State Police 90 days before your certification expires. Instructions on renewal will be included. Generally, you must submit another FBI fingerprint records check and fees, along with renewal application fee (total of $69.25, check or money order payable to the Maryland State Police). If you have a handgun permit, you must also submit a certificate of completion from a one-hour handgun re-certification class given by a Maryland State Police Certified Handgun instructor.

If you own a private detective agency, the agency’s license is valid for two years. About 90 days before the license is set to expire, you will be mailed a renewal packet from the Licensing Division of the Maryland State Police. You will be instructed on what documentation to submit and the fees due in order to renew your agency’s license.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Maryland

Maryland is a good location for private investigators seeking jobs.  According to 2012 employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the state had the highest concentration of private investigation jobs in the county. The total number of private investigators employed in Maryland in 2012 was 1,270.

Baltimore, in particular, had the sixth highest level of employment of private investigators of any metropolitan area in the county. Four hundred and fifty PIs were employed in that area in 2012.

The number of private investigation jobs in Maryland is expected to grow by 25.6% from 2010 to 2020, according to Maryland’s Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning.  That translates into 405 additional jobs that will be available.  In addition, the state projects that 355 individuals will leave the workforce, causing 775 total jobs to be available by 2020.

2012 salary data for private investigators in Maryland is available from the BLS.  The annual median salary and the wage for those in the top tenth percentile of their field are presented below for the state as a whole and for Baltimore:

Maryland City
Average Annual Salary
Maryland-statewide
$39050
Baltimore
$47780

Aspiring PIs in Maryland must obtain a license to work in the state.  It has fairly stringent requirements for applicants.  They must be at least 25 years old and have at least five years of full-time experience working as an investigator, firefighter, or police officer.  Three years of experience as a law enforcement investigator will suffice.  Anyone with one of these law enforcement backgrounds must have received the appropriate training from the state.

2012 employment and salary data is provided by the BLS for applicants who have succeeded in getting their license and have been working as a private investigator in Maryland.  The following table presents this information for two localities within Maryland.

Private Investigator Salaries in Maryland

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Baltimore-Towson MD
450
51310
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division
1080
49500

 


 

Massachusetts

The Massachusetts State Police licenses qualified individuals who wish to become private detectives. The right training and experience is vital to becoming an effective, efficient and knowledgeable private investigator in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which is why potential private investigators must meet the strict requirements of the Massachusetts State Police.

Step 1. Meet General Prerequisites for Private Detectives in Massachusetts

In order to become a licensed private detective in Massachusetts, you must:

  • Meet experience requirements (see below)
  • Have no felony convictions on record
  • Have no convictions of violations of section 99 (having to do with interception of wire and oral communications) or 99A (having to do with overhearing by use of devices in jury deliberations) of Chapter 272 of the Massachusetts General Laws
  • Receive certification of your good moral character from three reputable citizens
  • Pass a background investigation

Step 2. Complete Training and Experience Required of Private Detectives in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts State Police does not require you to have any formalized education to prepare you for licensure as a private detective. However, a background in criminal justice and/or law can be very beneficial to you as you begin your career as a Massachusetts private investigator.

Degrees available in Massachusetts’s schools that are the most helpful to private detectives include:

  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Diploma in Criminal Justice

Experience is of utmost importance when applying for licensure as a private detective in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts State Police mandate that you possess either of the following:

  • Three years of investigative experience
  • 10 years of experience as a police officer (if you were a patrolman, three of those years must be above the rank of patrolman)

If you do not possess the necessary experience to become licensed as a private investigator in Massachusetts, consider obtaining a Watch Guard Patrol Agency License instead. This type of license does not require any experience. Alternatively, you could hire a Resident Manager to work for your private detective agency, if you plan to open one. A Resident Manager is a person who qualifies for the license and is held responsible to the Department of State Police Certification Unit. This Resident Manager must continue to work for your agency in order for you to remain licensed as a Private Detective in Massachusetts.

If you plan to carry a firearm, you must complete a Firearms Safety Course and receive a Firearms Safety Certificate, conducted by a state approved instructor. A list of approved basic firearms safety courses is found here.

Step 3. Submit Massachusetts Private Detective Licensure Application and Supporting Documentation

When you are ready to apply for licensure as a private detective in Massachusetts, you must:

  • Submit the completed Application for a License as a Private Detective
  • Submit the Certificate Page, completed by three reputable Massachusetts citizens who either live in your community, live in the community in which you do business, live in the community in which you plan to work, and have been personally acquainted with you for at least three years
  • Submit the completed Investigative Employment Experience form, listing your experience as an investigator for at least the past three years
  • Submit the completed and notarized Authorization for Release of Information form
  • Submit the completed and notarized Bond Form
  • Submit the $5000 Surety Bond (ask your insurance provider to recommend a bonding company if they do not handle surety bond completion)
  • Submit a check or money order for the licensure fee of $550 to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Submit a Certificate of Business from the town hall in the town in which you plan to open your detective agency, or Corporate Structure/Articles of Incorporation from the Secretary of State’s Office

Mail the above items to the Department of State Police Certification Unit, 485 Maple St, Danvers, MA 01923. Your application package will be assigned to a State Police investigator, who will conduct a thorough background investigation of the information provided. Once the investigation is complete, the investigator will contact you for a personal interview. The entire licensing process takes from two to six weeks.

If you plan to carry a firearm, you must submit an Application for License to Carry Firearms. Enclose a copy of your Firearms Safety Certificate and the application fee of $100, along with a copy of your driver’s license, a letter requesting a License to Carry Firearms, and two letters of reference. Mail to Department of Criminal Justice Information Services, 200 Arlington St, Suite 2200, Chelsea, MA 02150.

Step 4. Now that You’re a Licensed Private Detective in Massachusetts

Congratulations! You have earned your private detective license in Massachusetts! Make sure to maintain your license properly by renewing each year as directed. You will be sent renewal information from the Massachusetts State Police Certification Unit, including the Private Detective License Renewal Form. You must pay a renewal fee of $150 via check or money order to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Enclose a copy of your original $5000 Surety Bond or continuation certificate, signed and notarized Release of Information, and current Private Detective license.

To renew your firearms license, which also expires annually, you must appear in person before the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services in Chelsea 90 days before the license is set to expire. You will need a renewal fee of $100, the completed renewal application, a copy of your driver’s license, and your current License to Carry Firearms.

Your name will be published on the Certification Unit’s updated List of Licensed Private Detectives in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Massachusetts

Over five hundred private investigators were employed in Massachusetts in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Their ranks are expected to increase by 30.5% in the period from 2010 to 2020 based on projections from the state’s Labor and Workforce Development Council.

In particular, Framingham and Worcester are good places to find PI jobs in the state.  Both are in the top metropolitan areas in the U.S. with the highest concentration of jobs in this field.  Framingham was second with 110 jobs in 2012, while Worcester was ninth with 100 jobs.

The BLS also provides salary data, and the annual median income of private investigators in Massachusetts was $47,770 in 2012.  Experienced PIs in the top 10th percentile of their salary bracket earned an average of $72,110 a year.  The salaries for the median and top 10th percentile incomes for private investigators in selected cities in Massachusetts are listed below:

Massachusetts City
Average Annual Salary
Boston
$45470
Framingham
$43250
Lowell
$50520
Worcester
$53980

A license from the Department of Public Safety is required to become a private investigator in Massachusetts.  Applicants must have recommendation letters from three reputable citizens of the state and cannot have been convicted of a felony.  Three years of experience is required in one of the following:

  • Doing investigative work as a detective
  • Having been a member of a U.S. investigative service
  • Having been a police officer (higher than patrolman)

Police officers who have been employed for ten years in good standing can also apply for a private investigator’s license.

A number of different types of employment are available to those with PI licenses in Massachusetts.  According to 2010 employment figures from the state’s Labor and Workforce Development Council, nearly 19% of all private investigators in the state were self-employed.  Sixty-four percent worked in administrative and support services.

Detailed employment and salary data from the BLS is available for a number of cities in Massachusetts.  This is shown in the table below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Massachusetts

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH
460
52080
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA NECTA Division
70
Estimate not released
Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton MA NECTA Division
Estimate not released
45720
Framingham MA NECTA Division
110
42960
Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford MA-NH NECTA Division
Estimate not released
52690
Nashua NH-MA NECTA Division
Estimate not released
46910
Providence-Fall River-Warwick RI-MA
40
Estimate not released
Worcester MA-CT
100
53010

 


 

Michigan

Private investigators in Michigan, most often referred to as professional investigators, are regulated under Public Act 285, which defines a professional investigator as an individual who conducts investigation business.

The term “investigation business” under the Act is defined as investigation for the purpose of obtaining information pertaining to crimes. Professional investigators may perform any number of activities when engaged in investigation business, including:

  • Securing evidence to be used in court
  • Locating and/or recovering stolen property
  • Electronic tracking
  • Using computer forensics findings as evidence in court
  • Using devices for eavesdropping and/or observation

Step 1. Meet Michigan’s Minimum Licensing Requirements

Before you can pursue a career as a private detective in Michigan, you must ensure you meet minimum requirements for licensure. Specifically, you must:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be at least 25 years old
  • Possess a high school diploma or the equivalent
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Have no misdemeanor convictions involving the following:
    • Dishonesty or fraud
    • Unauthorized selling or divulging information or evidence
    • Impersonating a law enforcement official
    • Illegally using or possessing a dangerous weapon
    • Controlled substances
    • Assault
  • Have no more than 2 misdemeanor alcohol-related offenses
  • Have no dishonorable discharge from the United States military

Step 2. Meet Minimum Experience or Education Requirements in Michigan

To become a licensed private detective in Michigan, you must have at least 3 years of full-time experience in one of the following:

  • Engaging in a legal professional investigation business as an investigator, licensee or registrant
  • Conducting a professional investigation agency
  • Working in investigative or intelligence activities, which may include the following professions:
    • Investigator
    • Detective
    • Special agent
    • Intelligence specialist
    • Parole agent
    • Probation officer
    • Certified police officer
  • Engaging in the investigation business as a full-time proprietary or in-house investigator employed by a business or an attorney
  • Working as an investigative reporter employed by a media outlet

You may also meet the minimum requirements for licensure through the completion of a bachelor’s degree program or higher in one of the following areas:

  • Police administration
  • Security management
  • Investigation
  • Law
  • Criminal justice
  • Computer forensics

Step 3. Apply for Michigan Licensure as a Private Investigator

Once you determine you have successfully met the minimum requirements for licensure either through education or experience, you can apply using the Application for Professional Investigator License Holder. Along with a completed application, you must submit the following:

  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Completed Employment Verification forms or an official transcript if you are qualifying through a degree (included in application packet)
  • A Professional Investigator Surety Bond or Insurance Amendatory Endorsement form that covers all 3 years of the license period
  • A copy of your Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization (Available through the Bureau of Commercial Services at 517-241-6470)
  • A copy of your Certificate of Co-Partnership from the county clerk where your business is located
  • An Assumed Name Certificate or DBA if you are using a name that is different from your name or your corporation or organization name (Available from the Bureau of Commercial Services, Corporate Division, at 517-241-6470)
  • Five (5) notarized Personal Reference forms  from individuals who can attest to knowing you for at least 5 years (included in application packet)

If you are currently a law enforcement officer, you may not be licensed in the State of Michigan as a private detective unless you produce one of the following to the Department:

  • Written permission to act as a private investigator from your employer
  • A copy of your jurisdiction’s published policies and procedures that includes verbiage of officers being allowed to seek off-duty employment as a private investigator
  • A copy of the collective bargaining agreement from your jurisdiction

The licensing fees for private investigators in Michigan are as follows (make check payable to the State of Michigan):

  • Individual License $750
  • Partnership License $750
  • Corporation License $750
  • Limited Liability Company License $750

The completed application and related documentation should be sent to:

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Licensing Division
Professional Investigator
Post Office Box 30018
Lansing, Michigan 48909

Step 4. Get to Work in Michigan

The Michigan Council of Private Investigators is a good source for finding work in the State of Michigan as a private investigator. Membership in the Council may provide you with a number of opportunities for networking and information regarding the private investigation practice in the state.

Note: According to the Professional Investigator Licensure Act, all private investigators in Michigan must be fingerprinted upon being hired by an agency.

Professional certification in this field is often advantageous for career advancement and professional achievement. ASIS International offers the Professional Certified Investigator certification, which requires at least 5 years of experience in investigations, 2 of which must be in case management.

Step 5. Maintain your Michigan License

You must apply for re-licensure every 3 years as a private investigator in Michigan by completing the Application for Relicensure as a Professional Investigator Agency form and submitting a $750 renewal fee (payable to the State of Michigan).


Private Investigator Salary Information for Michigan

The outlook for private investigators in Michigan is promising.  Job growth in Michigan in this field is expected to be 13.6% in the period between 2008 and 2018 according to the state’s Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.  Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that 210 private investigators were employed in Michigan in 2012 with nearly half of them located in the Detroit area.

The average salary for private investigators in Michigan in 2012 is available from the BLS, along with the average salary for experienced PIs, who earned in the 90th percentile of their profession.

This information is presented below for the state and for Detroit.

Michigan City
Average Annual Salary
Michigan-statewide
$47470
Detroit
$48020

The state of Michigan requires a license to work as a private detective. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs issues these licenses.  Applicants must be at least 25 years old and have been involved in one of the following occupations full-time for at least three years:

  • Served as an investigative employee in another state
  • Worked as an investigator for one who holds a license for conducting a professional investigative agency
  • Served as a law enforcement officer for a government agency
  • Graduated with a bachelor’s or graduate degree in a field such as criminal justice or police administration
  • Served as an in-house investigator for a business or attorney
  • Served as an investigative report for a recognized media outlet

Applicants who are successful in obtaining a license have a variety of job options available to them.  One area that is booming is computer forensics.  Private investigators can help track down those who have perpetrated fraud or harassed individuals using a computer.

Detailed information on hourly and annual salaries of private investigators in Michigan is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Private Investigator Salaries in Michigan

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn MI Metropolitan Division
70
51320
Detroit-Warren-Livonia MI
100
48020

 


 

Minnesota

The Minnesota Private Detective and Protective Agent Services Board ensures that investigative and security services practitioners in the state meet qualifications and training for licensure and maintain the standards set forth by the Minnesota Statutes and Administrative Rules. In total, the Board oversees more than 300 investigative and security license holders in the state.

Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements for Private Detective Licensure in Minnesota

To become a private investigator in Minnesota, you must first meet minimum requirements for licensure, which include the following:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must be free of felony convictions.
  • You must be able to supply a $10,000 surety bond at the time of your application.
  • You must be able to supply Proof of Financial Responsibility at the time of your application.

Step 2. Complete a Comprehensive Education Program in Minnesota

Although not a requirement of private investigators in Minnesota, many individuals seeking this career path choose to first pursue an associate’s degree or higher in criminal justice or a related program as to achieve the basic framework of the judicial and criminal justice system.

Further, the experience requirement for licensure as a private investigator in Minnesota (see Step 3) may be facilitated when you hold a college degree, as many employers in the field of criminal justice or law enforcement now require their employees to possess degrees or other formal training.

Step 3. Show Proof of Documented Professional Hours

To qualify for a private detective license in Minnesota, you must be able to document at least 6,000 hours of investigative employment in one or more of the following areas:

  • Investigator with a licensed private detective/investigative agency
  • Investigator with a U.S. government investigative service
  • Investigator for a city police department or sheriff’s office

Step 4. Request a Minnesota Application Package

Once you have successfully met the experience requirements for licensure in Minnesota as a private investigator, you can request an application package from the Board by submitting a non-refundable fee of $25 (made payable to the Board of Private Detective and Protective Agent Services), along with a written request that specifies you are interested in receiving an application for a private detective and the level at which you want to apply*, to:

State of Minnesota
Board of Private Detective and Protective Agent Services
1430 Maryland Avenue East
St. Paul, Minnesota, 55106

*You may apply for a private detective license as a Sole Proprietor (individual), a Partnership/LLP, or as a Corporation/Limited Liability Company (LLC).

If you are applying as a sole proprietor, it means you serve as the day-to-day manager and supervisor of the licensed activity and that you may or may not have employees. You may also apply as a partnership or corporation with a qualified representative candidate individual who will serve as the day-to-day manager and supervisor of the licensed activity.

Step 5. Apply for Licensure in Minnesota as a Private Investigator

Once you receive your application packet from the Board, you must complete it and send it to the Board, along with the private detective license fee of:

  • Individual: $1,000
  • Partnership: $1,700
  • Corporation/LLC: $1,900

You must also submit the following documents with your application (all forms are included in your application packet):

  • A completed informed consent criminal history form
  • A recent photograph
  • A full set of fingerprints
  • Five (5) references from people not related to you who have known you for at least 5 years
  • If you are applying as a qualified representative, you must include documentation of work experience

Step 6. Getting to Work in Minnesota

You must complete pre-assignment training within the first 21 days of your employment. Private investigators must complete at least 12 hours of initial training, and employers are responsible for ensuring their employees meet this requirement.

Information on training for private investigators, including a list of approved training providers and course application documents, can be found on the Board of Private Detective and Protective Agent Services website.

If you will carry any type of weapon, including a firearm, baton, or other device, you must also complete armed training, which consists of an additional 6 hours of training, including first aid and CPR certification.

Step 7. Maintain your Minnesota License

Private investigators in Minnesota are required to complete at least 6 hours of continuing training during every 2-year renewal period. If you complete more than 6 hours of training in any given renewal period, you may apply that to the next renewal period (with the exception of continuing armed training).

License reissuance fees are as follows:

  • 0 employees: $540
  • 1 to 10 employees: $710
  • 11 to 25 employees: $880
  • 26 to 50 employees: $1,050
  • 51 or more employees: $1,220


Private Investigator Salary Information for Minnesota

Job growth for private investigators in Minnesota is expected to increase 12.5% in the ten years leading up to 2020, according to the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development.  As of 2012, 150 private investigators were employed in Minnesota based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Salary data for the state as a whole and for the Twin Cities area is also available from the BLS.

The salaries for the annual median wage and those of experienced private investigators in the top ten percent of their income bracket are listed below.

Minnesota City
Average Annual Salary
Minnesota-statewide
$42360
Minneapolis-St. Paul
$42730

The seven-county area that encompasses the Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan area is an especially good part of the state for private investigators.  According to BLS statistics, over 73% of the state’s PIs were located in this area.  In addition, the state projected job growth of 12.3% from 2010 to 2020 in this location.

A license from the Board of Private Detective and Protective Agency Services is required to become a private detective in Minnesota.  Applicants must be at least 18 years old.  Private detectives must provide liability insurance in the form of a $10,000 surety bond.

A substantial amount of experience is required to become a PI in Minnesota.  Applicants must have 6,000 hours of the following type of investigative employment experience or an equivalent type:

  • Licensed private detective or investigative agency
  • U.S. government investigative service
  • Municipal police or sheriff’s office

In addition, fingerprints must be submitted along with five character references.

The BLS provides detailed information on the wages of those PIs who were licensed and working in the Twin City area in 2012.  This is presented in the table below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Minnesota

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI
110
49130

 


 

Mississippi

Mississippi, to date, has no licensing or regulation requirements for private investigators. However, private investigators and private investigative agencies operating in Mississippi still have a number of options to pursue when looking to set up shop in the state.

Step 1. Complete an Education Program in Mississippi

An education in criminal justice or a similar program is a smart, first step for many individuals seeking careers as private investigators.

In addition to serving as a solid foundation for this profession, a bachelor’s degree, graduate degree or graduate certificate in criminal justice, computer forensics, security management, investigation, or a related program is also mandatory for other professions in the field of law enforcement or investigations. As such, completing a degree program is a logical step for anyone with an interest in the private investigations field.

Step 2. Seek Experience in Criminal Justice

Just as an education is an important aspect of the field of private investigation, so is experience, as many private investigation agencies seek individuals with experience in investigations or similar areas. As such, upon graduating from a college degree program, it may be wise to seek entry-level employment in an investigative or detective agency as to gain valuable experience in the field.

Step 3. Attain Professional Recognition in Mississippi

Even though Mississippi does not currently have any laws governing the practice of private detectives in the state, many professionals choose to pursue membership in a professional association as to set themselves apart from others in the field.

For example, the Mississippi Private Investigators Association offers membership to private investigators in the state. Through membership, private investigators can receive professional recognition while also engaging in productive and practical dialogue about issues that affect the industry. Further, the Association will serve as a united front for the development of any future legislation in Mississippi.

Private investigators in Mississippi may also seek professional certification through a national association like ASIS International, which offers the Professional Certified Investigator designation, which requires at least 5 years of experience in investigations.

Step 4. Obtain a Permit to Carry a Concealed Weapon in Mississippi

If you intend to carry a firearm as a private detective, you must apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon (pistol, stun gun or revolver) through the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

To qualify to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon, you must:

  1. Be at least 21 years old
  2. Be a resident of the State of Mississippi for at least 12 months (Active military or retired law enforcement personnel are exempt from this requirement.)
  3. Have no felony convictions
  4. Not chronically or habitually abuse controlled substances or alcohol
  5. Not been adjudicated mentally incompetent in the last 5 years
  6. Not be a fugitive from justice
  7. Not be disqualified to possess or use a weapon based on federal law

To apply to carry a firearm, you must:

  1. Complete an Individual Firearms Permit application.
  2. Notarize the application and bring it to the Department of Public Safety headquarters in Jackson or one of the Mississippi Highway Patrol substations, which are located in:
    1. Hattiesburg
    2. Greenwood
    3. Batesville
    4. New Albany
    5. Starkville
    6. Meridian
    7. Biloxi
    8. Brookhaven
  3. Present two forms of identification (one being a government-issued photo ID) and get fingerprinted when you drop off your application.
  4. Submit a fee in the amount of $138, which includes the application fee of $106 and the fingerprint fee of $32 (cash or check made payable to the Department of Public Safety).

Step 5. Maintain your Weapons Permit in Mississippi

To renew your permit, you must complete the Individual Firearms Permit Renewal application and submit the renewal application fee of $56. Permits are renewed every 5 years.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Mississippi

The field of private investigation is growing in Mississippi with a 16.7% increase in employment projected between 2010 and 2020, according to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.  As of 2012, 270 private investigations were employed in the state based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Jackson had the eighth highest concentration of jobs of any metropolitan area in the country in 2012.  Slightly more than 40% of the state’s PIs were based in Jackson.

The BLS also provides information on the 2012 salaries of private investigators.  The average annual salary in the state was $34,830.  Experienced professionals can earn significantly higher salaries.  The average annual salary of those in the top ten percent of earners was $67,220.  Ranges are listed for PIs in selected cities in Mississippi:

Mississippi City
Average Annual Salary
Jackson
$22610
Memphis area
$62840

The nonmetropolitan area of northeastern Mississippi had the fourth highest salaries of any nonmetropolitan area in the country.

It is relatively straightforward to become a private investigator or detective in Mississippi, since no special license is required.  It is recommended that PIs in the state obtain a business license.

Private investigators work in a number of different areas.  One area in high demand at the moment is computer forensics, given the amount of fraud that is carried out online combined with the sustained harassment of some people over the internet.

Many investigators work for insurance companies verifying workman compensation claims.  Others perform surveillance on spouses suspected of infidelity.  Businesses are another common source of employment, since companies frequently need to investigate suspected fraud.

Defense attorneys are another type of potential client.  Diligent investigative work can sometimes help a great deal with the defendants’ cases.

The BLS provides a great deal of information on employment levels and a breakdown of salaries by hourly and annual percentiles.  The following table lists this information for some of the areas of Mississippi that employ large numbers of private investigators.

Private Investigator Salaries in Mississippi

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Jackson MS
110
22610
Memphis TN-MS-AR
70
62840
Northeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan area
Estimate not released
30190

 


 

Missouri

The Board of Private Investigator and Private Fire Investigator Examiners, through the Missouri Division of Professional Regulation, regulates and licenses professional investigators. The Division of Professional Regulation supports 40 licensing boards in the state, which in turn license more than 430,000 people.

Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements in Missouri

If you want to become a private investigator in Missouri, you must first ensure you meet the minimum requirements for licensure as set forth by the Board:

  • You must be at least 21 years old.
  • You must be a citizen of the United States.
  • You must be capable of securing liability insurance in the amount of $250,000.

Although a degree from a college or university is not a requirement for becoming a private detective in Missouri, many individuals pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree or graduate certificate in criminal justice or a similar program as to attain a framework of knowledge in the criminal justice system. A degree program is a source of valuable information for achieving success as a private investigator.

Step 2. Apply for a Private Investigator License in Missouri

To become a private investigator in Missouri, you must complete an Application for Licensure – Private Investigator or Application for Licensure – Private Investigator Agency and submit the following:

  • $500 application fee (check or money order made payable to the Board of Private Investigator and Private Fire Investigator Examiners
  • Two passport-style photographs
  • Proof of liability and worker’s compensation insurance of no less than $250,000
  • A complete set of fingerprints – You must submit a set of fingerprints to the Board. You may choose to have your fingerprints electronically collected by registering with the Missouri Automated Criminal History site and scheduling an appointment to have your fingerprints collected by Cogent 3M by visiting www.machs.mo.gov and choosing “Click here to access MACHS Fingerprint Search Portal.”

Once your application and related documentation are received, you can expect a follow-up email informing you when your application will be reviewed by the Board.

Step 3. Pass Missouri’s Written Examination

Once the Board has reviewed your application for a Private Investigator license and determined you qualify for licensure, you can expect to receive information regarding the required examination.

The Board requires you to pass a written examination before you can achieve licensure in the state. The written examination, which is designed to assess your knowledge of investigator rules and regulations in Missouri, is given by the Board once it has been determined that you meet the minimum qualifications for licensure.

Note: The Board will not send an examination application or study guide until after you have applied for a license.

The written examination consists of 75 questions, which cover the following topics:

  • Current rules and regulations governing the practice of private investigating in Missouri: 55 questions
  • General practice of private investigators: 20 questions

You will have 2 hours to complete the examination, and you must score at least 70 percent to pass the exam.

The examination is administered by the Division of Professional Registration, which is located at 3605 Missouri Boulevard in Jefferson City, Missouri. The cost of the examination is $80, which is submitted at the same time as you submit your exam application.

Step 4. Get to Work and Maintain your Missouri License

Upon passing the examination, you will receive your license as a private detective in Missouri. In addition to using the Board of Private Investigator and Private Fire Investigators Examiners website as a source for the most up-to-date information regarding the profession in Missouri, you may find that joining a professional association, such as the Missouri Association of Private Investigators is an invaluable source of networking opportunities.

Many private investigators also seek professional certification in this field, such as ASIS International’s Professional Certified Investigator designation.

All private investigators in Missouri must maintain their license by completing at least 16 hours of continuing education units every two years. All license renewals are completed online.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Missouri

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 610 people were employed as private investigators in Missouri in 2012.  One of the best areas for jobs in the state is St. Louis.  It had the ninth highest level of private investigator and private detective employment of any metropolitan area in the country in 2012.

The BLS provides salary information for private investigators in Missouri.  The average salary of these professionals throughout the state was $47,710 in 2012.  Experienced professionals had substantially higher salaries, which averaged $79,310.

Salary data for selected cities in Missouri is listed below.  The average annual salary is followed by that of private investigators in the 90th percentile:

Missouri City
Average Annual Salary
Kansas City
$37120
St. Louis
$54460

The state of Missouri started requiring licenses for private investigators in the state in 2007.  They are provided by the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Regulation.

Applicants must be at least 21 years old and pass a background check and a two hour licensing exam to obtain a license from the.  Liability insurance is also required in the form of a $250,000 business general liability policy.

Once they have been licensed, most private investigators work for investigation and security services.  Others work for state or local government.  Additional sources of employment are with the management of companies.  A substantial number of private investigators work in legal services.

The highest salaries for private investigators tend to be in technical fields such aerospace manufacturing, computer systems design, and the manufacturing of navigational and electromedical devices.

Employment and detailed salary data for private investigators working in Missouri is available from the BLS.  A detailed breakdown of hourly and annual wages by percentile is provided in the table shown below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Missouri

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Kansas City MO-KS
240
37120
St. Louis MO-IL
390
54460

 


 

Montana

The Montana Board of Private Security Officers and Investigators, which operates through the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, regulates and licenses private investigators, as well as private investigator trainees.

Step 1. Meet Minimum License Requirements in Montana

Before applying for a license as a private investigator in Montana, you must first ensure you meet the minimum requirements for licensure, as set forth by the Montana Board of Private Security Officers and Investigators:

  • You must possess a high school diploma or the equivalent.
  • You must be at least 21 years old.
  • You must be a citizen of the United States or a permanent resident of the United States.
  • You must have no felony convictions or convictions involving more turpitude or the illegal use or possession of a dangerous weapon.
  • You must have no dishonorable discharge from the U.S. military.
  • You must not suffer from alcohol or narcotics addition or dependence.
  • You must be willing to undergo a background investigation and fingerprint check by the Montana Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Step 2. Meet Experience and Education Requirements for Licensure in Montana

You must possess at least 3 years of education or experience before you can apply for a private detective license in Montana.  You may qualify for licensure through a combination of experience, education and training, but education and training cannot exceed one-half of the experience required. You may meet the experience qualification through the following activities:

  • Employed as a private investigator or held a security of authority to conduct a private investigation business
  • Employed as an investigator, detective, special agent, or peace officer of a local, county, state or federal government

Many individuals seeking careers as private investigators often first pursue a degree program in criminal justice, public administration, sociology, or a similar field as to obtain knowledge in the criminal justice system and achieve professional recognition and advancement.

If you qualify through a combination of experience and education, you must be able to provide proof of your education through the submission of transcripts, diplomas, seminar certificates, course completion certificates, or similar documentation.

Step 3. Apply for Private Investigator License in Montana

Once you have determined that you meet all of the necessary requirements for licensure, you must apply for a private investigator license by completing the Application for Private Investigator and submit the following documents:

  • $250 application fee* (or $150 application fee* for a private investigator trainee)
  • $20 examination fee*
  • Proof of commercial general liability insurance (which includes personal injury and errors and omission coverage) of at least $500,000
  • A passport-style photograph
  • Copy of driver’s license or birth certificate for proof of age
  • Copy of birth certificate or U.S. passport or immigration card for proof of citizenship or permanent legal residency
  • Copy of diploma or GED certificate
  • At least three references not related by blood or marriage
  • Copy of DD-214 (if you served in the military)
  • Proof of education/experience
  • Copy of current firearms certificate (if applicable)

*Check or money order made payable to the Montana Board of Private Security

The Board will mail you fingerprint cards, a self-addressed envelope, and instructions for obtaining your fingerprints. You can obtain your fingerprints from most local enforcement agencies. Once you have your fingerprints completed, you must send the completed card and a check and money order for $27.25 (made payable to the Montana Department of Justice) to:

Montana Criminal Records
303 North Roberts
Post Office Box 201403
Helena, Montana 59620

Step 4. Sit for Montana’s Examination for Private Investigators

Once your application has been approved by the Board, you can expect to receive a letter qualifying you to sit for the private investigator examination, which includes information on Montana laws and regulations regarding the private investigation business.

You may take the exam at the Board’s office in Helena or at a local job service location. You must contact the Board to notify them of the location where you will be taking the exam at least one week prior to your scheduled exam date.

Step 5. Qualify for a Firearms Endorsement in Montana

If you will carry a firearm as a private detective, you must achieve a firearms endorsement through the State of Montana, which includes completing a Board-approved firearms training course, applying for the endorsement by completing an online application, and paying the $50 application fee.

Note: You must first be licensed as a private investigator in the State of Montana before you can apply for a firearms endorsement, and you must maintain your license to maintain your firearms endorsement.

Step 6. Get to Work in Montana

Once you have successfully completed the examination, you will receive your license as a private investigator in Montana. You may choose to join a professional association, such as the Montana Association of Private Investigators (no active website found) or the United States Association of Professional Investigators, or obtain professional certification through an association such as ASIS International, which offers the Professional Certified Investigator designation for private investigators with at least 5 years of experience.

Step 7. Keep Your Montana License Current

To maintain your private investigator license in Montana, you must renew your license on an annual basis and pay the renewal fee of $175. You can complete your renewal online.

If you have a firearms endorsement, you must also renew that on an annual basis and pay the renewal fee of $50.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Montana

Private investigators in Montana earned an average annual salary of $43,900 in 2012 based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  More experienced investigators earning top salaries earned $70,460 a year on average in the state.

To become a private investigator or private detective in Montana, the state requires a license from the Montana Board of Private Security Patrol Officers and Investigators.  Applicants must be at least 21 years old.  They will have to submit proof that they have 5,400 hours (three years) of investigative experience and that they have liability insurance.

An examination is also required to become a PI in Montana.  Private investigators that want to be armed have to complete a firearms training program that has been approved by the Board.

Slightly more than a third of private investigators are self-employed.  Those who work for companies often work for state and local governments, along with the following services:

  • Investigative and security
  • Legal
  • Business Support

The types of work carried out by private investigators includes:

  • Conducting background checks for law enforcement agencies
  • Helping insurance companies or lawyers with cases such as insurance fraud or personal injury
  • Investigating people in divorces that are being disputed
  • Investigating schemes such as billing fraud for corporations
  • Gathering financial data about companies or people
  • Preparing loss prevention reports for store managers
  • Helping defense attorneys prepare their cases
  • Investigating if employees are stealing from retail stores or large firms

 


 

Nebraska

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.

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


Private Investigator Salary Information for Nebraska

Three hundred and fifty private investigators worked in Nebraska in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The state can be a lucrative place to work as a private investigator or private detective.  The BLS spotlighted the state as having the fifth highest average PI salary of any state in the country.  This is particularly notable, since Nebraska has a lower cost of living than many other places in the U.S.

Some categories of private investigation are more lucrative than others in Nebraska.  The state’s Department of Labor indicated that private investigators who worked for insurance carriers and related activities in 2013 made nearly 40% more than those who worked in the field of credit intermediation.

The BLS provides 2012 salary data for Nebraska.  The median wage and the average of salary of experienced PIs in the top tenth percentile are listed below:

Nebraska City
Average Annual Salary
Nebraska-statewide
$65500
Omaha
$64820

PI salaries increased during 2013.  The median wage in the state for that year was $66,520 according to Nebraska’s Office of Labor Market Information.

A license from the state is required to become a private investigator in Nebraska.  The fees are slightly different, depending on whether the application is to be a private detective or a plain-clothes investigator.

There are a number of requirements that are identical between these two categories of investigator, although private detectives are required to have liability insurance in the form of a $10,000 surety bond.

All applicants must undergo a background check by the Nebraska State Patrol and take a written exam.  A substantial amount of experience is required, although it varies depending on the educational background of the applicant.  The breakdown is as follows:

  • No degree:  3000 hours of experience
  • Associate’s degree:  2500 hours of experience
  • Bachelor’s degree:  2000 hours of experience

Once applicants have become private investigators, information on their salaries is tallied by the BLS.  A detailed breakdown of hourly and annual wages for 2012 in the Omaha area is provided in the table below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Nebraska

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Omaha-Council Bluffs NE-IA
250
61500

 


 

Nevada

Nevada’s Private Investigators Licensing Board regulates and licenses private investigators so as to protect the general welfare and safety of the people of Nevada. The Board defines a private investigator as being “any person who for any consideration engages in business or accepts employment…to make any investigation.”

Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements in Nevada

Before applying for a license as a private investigator in Nevada, you must meet the minimum requirements for licensure. Regardless of the city in which you live, from Las Vegas and Reno to North Las Vegas and Henderson, the minimum requirements for licensure are the same:

You must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Be a citizen of the United States or allowed to work in the United States
  • Have no felony convictions or convictions involving crimes of moral turpitude or the illegal use or possession of a dangerous weapon
  • Be able to pass a background investigation through the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Nevada Department of Public Safety, and the California Department of Justice (if you ever lived or worked in California)

Step 2. Meet Education/Experience Requirements in Nevada

All candidates for private investigator licenses in Nevada must possess at least 5 years of investigative experience (2,000 hours each year for a total of 10,000 hours).

However, you may satisfy some of your experience requirements through a college program in police science or criminal justice, as follows:

  • An associate’s degree in police science or criminal justice equals 8 months (1,333 hours)
  • A bachelor’s degree in police science or criminal justice equals 18 months (3,000 hours)

Step 3. Apply for a Nevada Private Investigator License

Upon ensuring you meet the minimum qualifications for licensure as a private detective in Nevada, you must apply for your private investigator license online through the Nevada Private Investigators Licensing Board portal. Along with a completed application, you must provide the following to the Board:

  • A non-refundable application processing fee of $20
  • A $100 examination fee
  • A $750 background investigation deposit (and $250 for each additional category of license for which the application is made)

Note: If you are a resident of Nevada, the entire cost of the investigation may total no more than $1,500 (each additional category may be up to $500), while a corporate applicant or an application who is not a resident of Nevada is liable for the entire cost of the investigation.

  • A passport-style photograph
  • A completed child support information form (if applicable)
  • A copy of your birth certificate, naturalization papers and/or passport
  • Certificate of Good Standing and a Certificate of Incorporation from the state you are incorporated in (for corporation licenses only)

Note: If your license application is a firm or partnership, the application must be signed and verified by all members. If your license application is a corporation, it must be signed and verified by the president, secretary, and treasurer. Further, if you are applying for a corporate license, you must submit your corporate financial statement in addition to your personal financial statement.

  • Three (3) fingerprint cards, along with a fingerprint processing fee of $37.50 (made payable to Nevada DPS) and 1 fingerprint card for California (if applicable) and a processing fee of $32 (made payable to CDOJ). You can have your fingerprint cards completed at any local law enforcement office.
  • At least 3 Notarized Certificates of Support of Experience and Qualifications forms
  • At least 3 Notarized Certificates in Support of Personal References forms
  • Diplomas and transcripts showing proof of education (if applicable)
  • Three (3) years of tax returns, including all W2s, K1s and/or 1099s

Step 4. Pass the Nevada Examination for Private Investigators

Upon submitting your application for licensure and receiving approval from the Board, you may take the Nevada State Board Examination, which is designed to assess your knowledge of the Nevada Revised Statutes and Regulations.

The examination is given quarterly and is administered either in Las Vegas or Carson City. You must score at least 75 percent to receive a passing score. If you fail the exam, you must pay a $100 fee to retake it.

Step 5. Network for Job Opportunities and Keep your Nevada License Up-to-Date

After passing the Nevada State Board Examination, before you can receive your license you will be required to provide proof to the Board that you have an insurance policy that is no less than $200,000, written by an insurance company authorized to do business in the state.

Membership in a local or state association, such as the Nevada Society of Professional Investigators, often provides a number of opportunities for private investigators in the field, including networking events and current information on legislation affecting the private investigation industry.

All online renewals are completed online. You must provide your license number to complete the online renewal. Licenses are renewed every year on July 1, and the cost of renewal is $500 per license, per year.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Nevada

The field of private investigation is growing in Nevada.  According to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, the increase in job growth for private investigators in the period of 2010 to 2020 is expected to be 6.3%.

Most of the private investigators in Nevada work in the Las Vegas area.  Of the 200 PIs employed in the state in 2012, 80% of them were based out of Las Vegas, according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The BLS provides 2012 salary data for Nevada as a whole and for the Las Vegas area.  The median annual income of PIs for these areas is listed below, followed by the wage of PIs who earn in the top 10th percentile of their field.

Nevada City
Average Annual Salary
Nevada-statewide
$49570
Las Vegas
$47510

The median hourly wage for PIs in Las Vegas in 2011 was 24% higher than that for the U.S. as a whole, and the area has a lower cost of living than many cities in the U.S.

The state of Nevada requires a license from the state’s Private Investigator’s Licensing Board to work as a private investigator or private detective.  Applicants must be at least 21 years old and undergo a rigorous background check involving the:

  • Nevada Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • California Department of Justice (CDOJ)
    • For applicants who have either lived in or visited California

They must also pass a two hour exam with a score of at least 75%.  There is a stringent requirement that applicants have 5 years (10,000 hours) of investigative experience before they can apply.  Having one of the following degrees in criminal justice or police science can replace the following amount of required hours:

  • Associate’s:  8 months (1,333 hours)
  • Bachelor’s:  18 months (3,000 hours)

The BLS provides a detailed breakdown of PI salaries in the Las Vegas area.  Hourly and annual percentiles are provided in the following table.

Private Investigator Salaries in Nevada

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Las Vegas-Paradise NV
160
52080

 


 

New Hampshire

Private investigators, according to the Department of Safety’s Permits and Licensing Unit for Security/Detectives, are individuals engaged in conducting investigations, which may include:

  • Unsolved crimes
  • Insurance claims
  • Civil litigation issues
  • Clandestine surveillance
  • Locating of missing persons or property
  • Locating escaped felons or wanted persons

Regulation and licensing of private investigators remains the same throughout the state, regardless of whether you reside in Manchester, Nashua, Derry Village, or East Concord.

*(Private investigators in New Hampshire are defined as investigative professionals without employees and who are not employees of a PI agency themselves, while private investigator employees are employees of private investigator agencies.)

Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements in New Hampshire

To qualify for a private investigator license in New Hampshire, you must meet a number of minimum requirements. You must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a residents of the United States
  • Have no felony, domestic violence, or abuse convictions
  • Have no misdemeanor convictions associated with theft, honesty, fraud, or sale or use of controlled substances

Step 2. Obtain the Necessary Experience and/or Education in New Hampshire

Eligible candidates for private investigator licenses (private investigator employees are exempt from the education/experience requirements) in New Hampshire must possess one of the following:

  • At least 4 years of experience in one of the following positions:
    • As a director of security or senior officer of a company or corporation or licensed security service
    • As a full-time adjuster, risk manager, or claims investigator for an insurance carrier or adjusting company
    • As a full-time law enforcement officer for a county, state, federal, college or university, or municipal police department
  • At least 2 years of employment as a full-time investigator for a private investigative agency AND one of the following:
    • An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from an accredited college or university
    • Certification from the American Society for Industrial Security as a certified professional investigator
    • Certification from the National Association of Legal Investigators as a certified legal investigator
  • At least 4 years of employment as a full-time investigator for a licensed private investigator or agency
  • At least 4 years of experience as a full-time experience as a full-time firefighter and certification by the International Association of Arson Investigators

Certification by the American Society for Industrial Security in security operations and at least 2 years of experience.

Step 3. Complete Firearms Training in New Hampshire

If you want to carry a firearm as a private investigator in New Hampshire, you must complete one of the following firearms training courses (or equivalent approved courses):

  • Firearms instructor school through the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • National Rifle Association police firearms instructor course
  • Police standards and training council firearms instructor school
  • Firearms instructor school through SIG Sauer or Smith & Wesson

Step 4. Apply for your New Hampshire License

To apply for a private investigator license, you must complete the appropriate Application for Licensure:

And provide the following to the Department of Safety:

  • A two-year, $50,000 surety bond on an approved form
  • $150 application fee (or $500 application fee for a private investigator agency license)
  • $25 criminal record check fee
  • $10 background investigation fee
  • $26.50 fingerprinting fee (for armed status applicants only)

To schedule your fingerprints, you must make an appointment by calling 603-223-3873. You must make the appointment prior to dropping off your application for licensure.

Note: All forms must be printed out, completed and delivered in person (DO NOT mail forms) to:

Department of Safety
Room 106 (Permits and Licensing)
33 Hazen Drive
Concord, New Hampshire

Step 5. Network and Maintain your New Hampshire License

You may choose to seek membership in a professional association, such as the New Hampshire League of Investigators, as you can find a wealth of information regarding state investigative agencies, events, and networking groups.

All licenses for private investigators in New Hampshire must be renewed every 2 years, and individuals must complete the renewal application, pay the renewal fee and provide evidence that their surety bond is in force upon renewal.

Renewal fees are as follows:

  • Private Investigator Employee: $50 (plus $10 background investigation fee and $25 criminal record check)
  • Private Investigator: $150 50 (plus $10 background investigation fee and $25 criminal record check)
  • Private Investigator Agency: $500 50 (plus $10 background investigation fee and $25 criminal record check)

All armed private investigators in New Hampshire must meet the minimum requirements in the proficiency in the use of firearms every year, which include completing the practical police course or tactical revolver course (with a minimum score of 75 percent) and completing at least four hours of instruction, including:

  • Firearms techniques and safety
  • Laws on the use of deadly force
  • Moral and ethical use of force


Private Investigator Salary Information for New Hampshire

New Hampshire is projected to have a high rate of job growth in the field of private investigation.  According to New Hampshire Employment Security, the number of jobs is projected to increase 22.2% in the period from 2008 to 2018.

One hundred and ninety PIs were employed in New Hampshire in 2012 according to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Their average salary was $45,330 with more experienced private investigators earning $59,860 in the top 10th percentile.  Information on the 2012 salaries in the following NECTA regions is available from the BLS:

New Hampshire City
Average Annual Salary
Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford
$52690
Nashua
$46910

A license from the State Police of New Hampshire is required to become a private investigator or private detective in the state.  Applicants must be at least 18 years old and undergo a criminal background check.  Liability insurance in the form of a $50,000 surety bond is also required.

A significant amount of experience is required to be able to apply to be a PI in New Hampshire.  Applicants must have one of the following types of fulltime experience:

  • Two years of investigative if they have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in fire service or criminal justice
  • Four years as a law enforcement officer
  • Four years as an investigator
  • Four years as a firefighter and professional certification by The International Association of Arson Investigators

While they must be a resident of the U.S., applicants are not required to be residents of New Hampshire.

For applicants who had been approved and working as New Hampshire private investigators in 2012, the BLS provides detailed salary information on the hourly and annual wages in various percentiles.  This is provided in the table below.

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford MA-NH NECTA Division
Estimate not released
52690
Nashua NH-MA NECTA Division
Estimate not released
46910

 


 

New Jersey

There are more than 2,000 licensed private detectives and private security agencies in the State of New Jersey, according to New Jersey’s Private Detective Unit.

The New Jersey State Police, Private Detective Unit, is responsible for the administration and enforcement of all laws relating to private detectives and private detective agencies in the State of New Jersey, which stems from the Private Detective Act of 1939. This Act includes all cities and municipalities in New Jersey, from Newark and Edison to Paterson, Jersey City, and Elizabeth.

Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements in New Jersey

Similar to other licensed professions in the State of New Jersey, private investigators must meet these minimum requirements to be eligible for licensure:

  • A resident of the United States
  • At least 25 years old

Step 2. Complete New Jersey Education and Experience Requirements

To become a licensed private investigator in New Jersey, you must show proof of at least 5 years of experience as an investigator or police officer with a local or state police department or with an investigative agency for a county, city, state or federal organization.

Although there are no educational requirements for private investigators in New Jersey, many individuals pursuing this career path choose to first complete a degree program in criminal justice or a related field as to obtain a comprehensive understanding of and appreciation for the criminal justice system. Further, a degree from an accredited college or university often facilitates the process of obtaining the necessary experience required for licensure as a private investigator in New Jersey.

Step 3. Obtain a Complete Set of Fingerprints in New Jersey

You must submit to electronic fingerprinting to become a private detective in New Jersey.

Before you can obtain your fingerprints, you must contact the New Jersey State Police, Private Detective Unit at 609-633-9835 to request a temporary agent license number, which will be entered into block #7 of your Universal Form:

  • Universal Form for Owner/Operators
  • Universal Form for Private Detective Agency Employees

You must visit one of the MorphoTrak sites (a list of sites is available on their website: www.bioapplicant.com) to obtain your fingerprints. This service costs $67.50.

Step 4. Apply for a New Jersey License as a Private Investigator

Upon meeting the minimum education and experience requirements, you must apply for a private investigator license in New Jersey by completing the Application for Private Detective License and choosing the license for which you are applying:

  • Individual License
  • Corporate License
  • Corporate License Officer (does not need to meet the experience requirements)
  • LLC License
  • LLC License Member (does not need to meet the experience requirements)
  • Partnership License

You must also include the following documents with your completed application:

  • An application fee of $250 (firm, association or corporation is $300), made payable to the State of New Jersey
  • A passport-sized photograph
  • At least 5 references from reputable citizens over the age of 21 who can attest to your competency to serve as a licensed private investigator
  • A notarized and signed Authorization for Release of Information form (included with the application)
  • A Detective Agency License Surety Bond form
    • Individual surety bond must be at least $3,000
    • Firm, association or corporation surety bond must be at least $5,000

Mail the completed application and related documents to:

New Jersey State Police
Private Detective Unit
P.O. Box 7068
West Trenton, NJ 08628

Step 5. Pursue Work in New Jersey

Private investigators in New Jersey often seek membership in professional associations, such as the New Jersey Licensed Private Investigators Association. Members of the NJLPIA can network with other licensed private investigators in the state, participate in training events and conferences, and stay current on legislation that affects the private investigation profession.

Professional certification in this field is also common through such associations as:

Step 6. Maintain your New Jersey License

Private investigator licenses must be renewed every 2 years. They must be renewed by completing and notarizing the Renewal Application for New Jersey Private Detective License, submitting a recent passport-sized photograph, and paying the $200 individual license (or $250 for all other types of licenses) renewal fee.

If you are renewing a corporate or LLC license, you must include a copy of your last annual report or provide a Corporate Resolution that lists the current officers.

You must also include your current surety bond and submit to fingerprinting services again through MorphoTrak.


Private Investigator Salary Information for New Jersey

Two hundred and ninety private investigators worked in New Jersey in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  New openings are expected as current PIs retire, and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development is projecting a growth rate of 8.6% in the ten year period leading up to 2020.

The 2012 annual median wage of private investigators in New Jersey was $54,370 based on information from the BLS.  Experienced PIs made substantially more.  The average wage for those in the top tenth percentile was $90,980.

The BLS also provides the 2012 salaries of private investigators in a number of cities in New Jersey.  The median wage is listed below, followed by the average salaries of the top earners:

New Jersey City
Average Annual Salary
Allentown
$56800
Edison
$42630
Newark
$53860

Private investigators in New Jersey are regulated as private detectives, and a license from the New Jersey State Police is required to operate in the state.  An applicant to be a private detective or private investigator must be at least 25 years old and have five years of experience as an investigator or police officer.  Liability insurance in the form of a $3000 surety bond is also required.

There are a number of career options for private investigators in New Jersey.  Potential employers include:

  • State and local government
  • Individuals
  • Police departments
  • Retail establishments
  • Insurance companies
  • Attorneys
  • High tech companies
  • Credit intermediation companies

Some of the most lucrative employers for private investigators include high tech companies such as aerotech firms and companies that make medical devices.

A detailed breakdown of salary information by city is available from the BLS for private investigators who worked in New Jersey in 2012.  It is presented in the table below.

Private Investigator Salaries in New Jersey

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton PA-NJ
110
57410
Edison-New Brunswick NJ Metropolitan Division
70
50900
Newark-Union NJ-PA Metropolitan Division
Estimate not released
56960
New York-White Plains-Wayne NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
Estimate not released
52200

 


 

New Mexico

The Securities Division of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department regulates and licenses activities for about 100,000 individuals in New Mexico.

The Private Investigations Advisory Board, within the Securities Division, is responsible for licensing private investigators, private investigator managers, and private investigation companies using the Private Investigations Act to ensure ethical standards are upheld. Regardless of the location in New Mexico, from Albuquerque to Las Cruces to Rio Rancho and Roswell, license requirements for private investigators are the same.

Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements for a New Mexico Private Investigator License

Before pursuing a license as a private investigator in New Mexico, you must first meet minimum requirements for licensure:

  • You must be a citizen of the United States.
  • You must have no felony convictions or convictions involving the illegal use or possession of a deadly weapon or violent act.
  • You must have a high school diploma.
  • You must be at least 21 years old.
  • You must be able to successfully pass a jurisprudence examination issued by the department.
  • You must be able to secure a surety bond of no less than $10,000.
  • If you will provide personal protection or bodyguard services, you must be able to secure general liability insurance of no less than $1 million.
  • You must be able to pass a background investigation.

Step 2. Complete Required Experience Hours in New Mexico

Candidates for private investigator licensure in New Mexico must show proof of the completion of at least 6,000 hours of investigative work in the last 5 years. Acceptable investigative work may include:

  • Investigation for the purpose of obtaining information regarding crimes or threats
  • The investigation of persons
  • Investigation for the purpose of locating or recovering lost or stolen property
  • Securing evidence to be used in court, in investigative committees, or for law enforcement officers

Although a college education is not a requirement for licensure as a private investigator in New Mexico, many individuals choose to pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a similar program as to achieve a comprehensive framework of knowledge of the criminal justice system and of the many aspects of working within this system.

Step 3. Complete Mandatory Firearms Training in New Mexico

If you plan to carry a weapon as a private investigator in New Mexico, you must complete mandatory firearms training. All licensed private investigators must show proof of being firearm certified by an instructor who is recognized and certified by the New Mexico law enforcement academy or the National Rifle Association Law Enforcement Activities Division.

You must contact the Board at 505-476-4650 to receive information and forms related to firearms certification in New Mexico.

Step 4. Pass New Mexico’s Jurisprudence Examination

Before you apply for a license as a private investigator in New Mexico, you must pass a jurisprudence exam given by the Department. You must contact the Regulation and Licensing Department at 505-476-4500 to schedule a date and time to complete this examination.

Step 5. Apply for a Private Investigator License in New Mexico

Upon ensuring you meet the minimum requirements for licensure, you must complete the appropriate license application (and sign it in front of a notary public):

You must provide the following documentation with your completed application:

  • A non-refundable application fee of $200 (includes $100 license fee and $100 examination fee)
  • Proof of experience
  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Proof of age (birth certificate, driver’s license or state-issued ID)
  • Proof of mandatory firearms training (if applicable)
  • A copy of your surety bond of no less than $10,000.
  • Proof of an owner or licensed private investigations manager who will certify that they will manage the daily operations of the private investigation company (for private investigations companies)
  • If you are the owner or CEO of a private investigation company that provides personal protection or bodyguard services, you must provide proof of an active general liability insurance policy of at least $1 million. (for private investigations companies)
  • Proof of employment with a private investigation company for whom you will provide investigation services and the individual who will provide direct supervision to you (for private investigations employees)

Send the completed application and required documentation to:

New Mexico Private Investigations Board
P.O. Box 25101
Santa Fe, NM 87504

Step 6. Submit Fingerprint Cards in New Mexico

All candidates for private investigator licenses must provide 2 full sets of fingerprints to qualify for licensure.

You can obtain blank fingerprint cards by contacting the Regulation and Licensing Department at 505-476-4650. You must have them completed by a New Mexico state police officer, county sheriff or municipal chief of police.

You must submit your completed fingerprint cards to the department, along with a check or money order in the amount of $44 (made payable to NM Department of Public Safety) to cover the FBI and state background investigation. Mail the completed fingerprint cards and fee to:

Fingerprint Section
NM Department of Public Safety
P.O. Box 1628
Santa Fe, NM 87504-1628

Step 7. Maintain your New Mexico License

Many private investigators in New Mexico seek professional certification as to achieve professional recognition and to separate themselves from others in the field. You may choose to achieve professional certification as a Professional Certified Investigator through ASIS or a Certified Legal Investigator through the National Association of Legal Investigators.

All private investigator licenses expire biennially on the last day of your birth month, and you must complete your license renewal using the Division’s online license renewal system. License renewal fees are as follows:

  • Private investigator: $300
  • Private investigations manager: $200
  • Private investigations employee: $200

You must also show proof of the completion of at least 4 continuing education hours, and you must send updated fingerprint cards, along with a $44 background fee (made payable to the Department of Public Safety, Fingerprint Section) to:

Fingerprint Section
NM Department of Public Safety
P.O. Box 1628
Santa Fe, NM 87504-1628


Private Investigator Salary Information for New Mexico

The field of private investigation in New Mexico is expected to grow over twice as fast as the protective service industry as a whole in the state.  According to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, the growth rate for private investigator and private detective jobs in the state is expected to be 27.5% in the period from 2010 to 2020.

Private investigators made an average of $47,010 in New Mexico in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Experienced professionals in this field made nearly twice as much.  The average salary of PIs in the 10th percentile was $68,310.

Most of the private investigators in New Mexico are in Albuquerque with eight-five percent of the 130 PIs in the state being located in this city.  Thus, the salaries in this city are very similar to those for the state as a whole.  The average 2012 PI salary in Albuquerque was $47,390 with experienced private investigators having earned $69,620 a year.

The state of New Mexico requires a license by the New Mexico Private Investigations Board to work as a private investigator in the state.   Applicants must be at least 21 years old and have completed mandatory firearms training.  They must provide proof of having a $10,000 surety bond as insurance.  The Board also requires that applicants have 6,000 hours of investigative experience obtained within the past five years.  A criminal background check is also required.

While no educational requirement is specified, over half of the PIs in the U.S. have a bachelor’s degree.  Private investigators in New Mexico are mandated to take part in continuing education to maintain their license and must complete at least four hours of such training during their renewal period.

For those private investigators who were working in Albuquerque in 2012, the BLS provides detailed information on the annual and hourly salary levels by percentile.  This data is provided in the table below.

Private Investigator Salaries in New Mexico

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Albuquerque NM
110
47390

 


 

New York

The New York State Division of Licensing Services licenses and regulates private investigators.

Before you can begin working as a licensed private investigator in the Empire State, from New York City to Rochester, Yonkers, Syracuse, and beyond, you must complete a specific number of steps.

Step 1. Meet Minimum New York Requirements for Licensure

Candidates who want to become licensed private investigators in New York must meet a number of minimum requirements:

  • You must be at least 25 years old.
  • You must be a United States citizen.
  • You must possess a high school diploma.

Step 2. Meet Education and Experience Requirements in New York

To meet New York’s requirements for licensure, you must possess ONE of the following:

  • At least 3 years of full-time investigative experience as an employee or a licensed private investigator or as an investigator for a government investigative agency or police agency
  • At least 3 years of full-time equivalent experience where primary duties were to conduct investigations
  • At least 3 years of full-time experience supervising the work of at least 3 people who performed investigations
  • At least 20 years of service as a police officer
  • At least 20 years of full-time service as a Fire Marshall

Although education requirements for licensure as a private investigator in New York are not enforced, many individuals in this line of work nevertheless pursue a degree in criminal justice or a related program as to obtain vital expertise in the field of criminal justice and law enforcement.

Step 3. Take the New York Private Investigator Examination

Before you can apply for a private investigator license in New York, you must take and pass the state examination for private investigators.

You can view the exam schedule for a list of upcoming dates and location and register for the exam at the test center on the day of the exam. Exam schedules are updated in January and July of each year.

You will have 2 ½ hours to complete the examination.

On the day of the exam, you must bring a government-issued photo ID (driver’s license, military ID, passport, state-issued identification and the $15 examination fee (check, money order, MasterCard or Visa acceptable).

Before taking the examination, you will be thumb printed, and all electronic devices, including cell phones, must be turned off during the exam. You must score at least 70 percent on the exam to receive a passing score, and you will be notified, by mail, of your passing or failing score on the exam. If you pass the exam, the Division of Licensing Services will mail you a license application to complete.

Step 4. Complete Fingerprinting Procedures in New York

All candidates for licensure must go through either IdentoGo or MorphoTrust USA to have their electronic fingerprints completed. You must schedule an appointment by calling 1-877-472-6915 (and provide them with the ORI number NY922020Z).

You must complete the NYS Fingerprinting Services Information form and bring it with you to the fingerprinting site and pay the $85.75 fingerprinting fee (payable to MorphoTrust USA).

Step 5. Apply for a New York Private Investigator License

You cannot apply for a license unless you pass the written exam, and you have 2 years from the date you pass the examination to apply for licensure.

You may apply for a private investigator license as an individual, a partnership, or a corporation.

Your application must include the following documents:

  • A signed DMV Consent form
  • Bond form
  • Receipt from electronic fingerprinting by an approved vendor
  • Application fee (made payable to the NYS Department of State) of $400 (or $500 for a business or corporate business license and $500 for each branch office)
  • Proof of qualifying experience (a sworn statement from each employer)
  • Sworn statements from at least 3 people who have direct knowledge of your claimed experience
  • Proof of earnings for the last 3 years of full-time experience

Step 6. Get to Work in New York

There are a number of professional associations in New York that provide many benefits to private investigators, such as networking opportunities, events, conferences, and job opportunities:

Step 7. Maintain your New York License

All private investigator licenses in New York are renewed every 2 years. The cost of renewal is $400 ($500 for corporate or business), and you must provide the Division with a Certificate of Bonded Status form when renewing your license. You will receive renewal instructions from the Division within 90 days of the expiration of your license.


Private Investigator Salary Information for New York

New York state is a good place to find work as a private investigator.  Not only did it have the greatest number of private investigator jobs in the country in 2012, it also had the third highest concentration of jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  There was approximately one PI employed for every 3000 people in the state.  This was a total of 3,220 private investigators and detectives.

The New York State Department of Labor projects that the number of private investigator and private detective jobs will increase 21.7% in the period from 2010 to 2020.  In addition to the positions created by those leaving the profession, an additional one hundred jobs are expected to become available.

The average private investigator in New York state made $52,430 a year in 2012, according to the BLS.  Experienced PIs commanded an average salary of $70,750.  The BLS provides salary information for a number of cities in New York state.  The average annual salary for 2012 is listed below, followed by the average salary for those in the top 10th percentile of their field.

New York City
Average Annual Salary
Albany
$55050
Buffalo
$46030
New York City
$53330
Syracuse
$51180

New York state requires that private investigators obtain a license from the Department of State Division of Licensing Services before they work in the state.  Requirements include being at least 25 years old and undergoing a background check.  Applicants must have one of the following amount types of experience before they can apply:

  • Three years as a law enforcement officer
  • Three years working for a licensed private investigator
  • Twenty years as a an employee of a police or fire department

It is also necessary to pass a written exam to become a private investigator in New York state.

The BLS provides detailed information on the 2012 salaries of PIs in different parts of the state as shown below.

Private Investigator Salaries in New York

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Albany-Schenectady-Troy NY
Estimate not released
55050
Buffalo-Niagara Falls NY
100
46030
Nassau-Suffolk NY Metropolitan Division
Estimate not released
58180
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island NY-NJ-PA
2670
53330
New York-White Plains-Wayne NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
Estimate not released
52200
Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown NY
70
62280
Syracuse NY
80
51180

 


 

North Carolina

The legal definition of a private investigator in North Carolina is found in state code Chapter 74C.  Article 1.  It defines a person as being a private investigator when he or she contracts to engage in the profession or accepts employment to do any of the following:

  • Investigate crimes or wrongs against the U.S. or its states or territories
  • Determine the details of any person’s business or personal dealings and character
  • Identify the location, recovery, or disposition of stolen or lost property
  • Determine responsibility or cause of events such as fires, libels, accidents, injuries, damages, etc.
  • Secure evidence that will be used before a court, officer, board, or investigative committee
  • Protect individuals from death or serious bodily harm

Step 1.  Meet North Carolina Requirements to Obtain a License

To become a private investigator in North Carolina, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
    • 21 years old to be an armed PI
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have U.S. citizenship or be a resident alien
  • Be of good moral character

Step 2.  Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in North Carolina

Before you can apply for a license to be a private investigator in North Carolina, you need to have three years of experience conducting investigations with one of the following:

  • A private person, association, firm, or corporation or a contract security company
  • Any U.S. Armed Forces, federal, county, state, municipal law enforcement agency or an other governmental agency

This is the equivalent of 3,000 hours of training.  One way in which to gain some of this experience is to obtain a criminal justice degree.  This will help you learn how to become an effective and lawful private investigator and give you the analytical training to help experienced investigators pursue their cases.  You can get this type of training from schools located within North Carolina or from online schools that offer degrees in criminal justice.

You will get the following credits towards your experience requirement to become a private investigator in North Carolina for these degrees:

  • Associate’s:  400 hours
  • Bachelor’s:  800 hours
  • Graduate:  1200 hours

If you are applying to carry a firearm as you work, you will need to complete the training required for armed security guards in 12 NCAC 07D .0807.  You will only have to complete the first four types of classroom instruction for unarmed security guards:

  • The Security Officer in North Carolina
  • Legal Issues for Security Officers
  • Emergency Response
  • Communications

If you do not have the required training to become licensed as a PI in the state, you can apply to be an Associate and work under the supervision of a fully licensed PI in North Carolina.

Step 3.  Submit Your North Carolina Application

Once you have obtained the required training, you need to submit your application to the North Carolina Department of Justice.  You will need to provide a number of different pieces of information when you apply for your license.  The application and other required forms are available from the departmental website.  You will need to submit your:

  • Application (for armed or unarmed registration)
  • Fingerprint authorization card
  • Photograph of head and shoulders taken within the past six months
    • Email to PPSASP-Photos@ncdog.gov
    • Named like Doe.Jane.Sarah.1234.Licensee.jpg
        • Full name with your last name first
        • First four digits of your social security number
        • Type of license
    • Credit check from Equifax run within the past 30 days
    • Checks or money orders made out to the Private Protective Services Board
      • $150 non-refundable application fee
      • $38 for your fingerprint check
    • Proof of education (high school or college diploma or GED)
    • DD214 if a veteran or discharged
    • Release of record form that has been signed and notarized
    • Signed information form for the SBI Release of Records
    • Personal reference questionnaire filled out by each of your references

For registration as an armed private investigator, you will also have to submit the following:

  • Financial liability insurance certificate
  • Certificate of completion of unarmed training and firearms training

You will also need to have a criminal record check for each county that you have lived in for the past sixty months.  They must be from the Clerk of Court or else from approved on-line vendors listed at the website of the Administrative Office of the Courts.

If you have any questions, you can contact the North Carolina Private Protective Services Board Licensing Unit at 919-788-5320.

Step 4.  Now that You are a Private Investigator in North Carolina

Once you your application has been accepted and you have been granted a license to work as a private investigator in North Carolina for two years, you will be given a pocket identification card.  You must have this card on you at all times when you are working as a PI.

If you choose to carry a firearm as you work, you are subject to additional requirements from the state.  You will have been issued a firearm registration permit that you will need to carry with you.  If you are approached or addressed by a law enforcement officer, you are required to let them know that you are carrying a firearm and have a valid permit.  You will have to renew this permit annually.

After you are done conducting an investigation, you are required to provide a written report to each client within 30 days that details your findings.  You must keep a copy of this report.

There are continuing education requirements that you need to fulfill to keep your PI’s license.  You need to have at least 12 credit hours of training that has been approved by the Private Protective Services Board during your two year period of being licensed.  Ways to receive this credit include the following:

  • Attending a complete meeting of the Board
    • 1 credit per meeting; maximum of 4 credits per renewal period
  • Obtaining formal education in any of the following from an accredited institution:
    • Crime prevention
    • Criminal justice
    • Ethics
    • Finance
    • Forensics
    • Investigation
    • Law
    • Security profession
      • 1 credit per hour; not to exceed 8 hours
      • Only 6 credits allowed for online courses per renewal period
  • Conferences or seminars of the North Carolina Association of Private Investigators

You will have to turn in proof of your continuing education credits when you submit your license for renewal.  You need to have a report for each course signed by the instructor that includes the following:

  • Your name
  • The date the course was completed
  • The number of hours taken


Private Investigator Salary Information for North Carolina

Slightly more than 500 private investigators were employed in North Carolina in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Charlotte had the highest number of PIs of any of the cities in North Carolina, while Fayetteville had the fifth highest concentration of jobs in this field of any metropolitan area in the county.

The average annual salary for a private investigator or private detective in North Caroline was $60,020 in 2012 according to information provided by the BLS.  Experienced PIs earned substantially higher wages with those in the top tenth percentile having made $107,380 a year on average.

Average salaries overall and for the top tenth percentile for 2012 are listed for selected cities in North Carolina:

North Carolina City
Average Annual Salary
Fayetteville
$57770
Raleigh
$45480

To become a private investigator in North Carolina, a license from the state’s Department of Justice is required.  Applicants must be at least 18 years old or 21 if they want to carry a firearm in the line of work.  They must have a criminal background check from every county they have lived in over the past five years.

The state requires that applicants have a substantial amount of experience—three years (3000 hours) as one of the following:

  • An investigator with a private person or a company
  • A law enforcement official

Obtaining a college degree can count towards the 3000 hour requirement.  The amount of experience that can be substituted for each type of degree is listed below:

  • Graduate: 1200 hours
  • Bachelor’s: 800 hours
  • Associate’s: 400 hours

Information on licensed private investigators who worked in North Carolina in 2012 is provided by the BLS.  A detailed listing of annual and salary levels for a number of cities in the state is shown below.

Private Investigator Salaries in North Carolina

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill NC-SC
90
Estimate not released
Fayetteville NC
70
57770
Raleigh-Cary NC
30
45480
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News VA-NC
80
40070

 


 

North Dakota

The state of North Dakota requires a license to become a private investigator, which is issued by the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board (NDPISB).

Private investigators provide investigative services to groups or individuals.  In North Dakota, the definition of a private investigative service provider includes any licensed business that furnishes or obtains information with reference to any individual or act in exchange for monetary compensation.

There are a number of different types of jobs for private investigators in North Dakota, since both individuals and companies seek the services of PIs.  Many work for attorneys in civil or criminal defense cases.  Others work for insurance companies and examine suspicious claims. Individuals also seek the services of private investigators to find out information on everyone from potential spouses to business investors.

Step 1.  Meet North Dakota Requirements to Obtain a License

You must meet the following qualifications to become a private investigator in North Dakota:

  • Have a high school diploma or a GED certificate
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have not been found guilty or convicted of any of the following (including as a juvenile):
    • Felony
    • Misdemeanor (Class A or B) involving violence, intimidation, or controlled substances
    • Theft, including shoplifting
  • Be free of a mental defect or condition that would impair your ability to professionally and competently provide services
  • Have not committed an act indicating bad moral character

You may still be able to become a private investigator in North Dakota if you have one of these prohibited convictions if the board feels that you have been rehabilitated or that your offense would not prohibit you from serving the public.

Step 2.  Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in North Dakota

You will need to have a substantial amount of experience to obtain your license to be a private investigator in North Dakota.  The state requires that you have worked as a registered employee for a detective agency and have provided 2000 hours of investigative services in this manner.

To be an attractive candidate and to help you prepare for the exam, you may want to consider obtaining a formal degree in criminal justice.  This will help train you in the analytical skills that are required to be a top-notch investigator and will help you in navigating the legal system as you perform your job.

You can obtain an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from schools within the state or from online schools that offer such degrees.  You may also want to take some courses in business management, as there will be questions on this area when you take your exam.

Armed PI Training – To work as an armed private investigator in North Dakota requires special training.  You will need to comply with all state and federal laws governing the use of firearms.  The state requires that you receive the same training as peace officers.

You will have to take an exam that has both a written part and a portion in which you demonstrate your skills with using a firearm.  To pass this, you will have to score 70% overall and 100% on the portion about North Dakota’s laws.

Step 3.  Take the North Dakota Examination

Before you can apply for your license to become a private investigator, you will need to have passed North Dakota’s written examination.  There are multiple versions of this 150-question exam.  You are well advised to study ahead of time to make sure you are prepared.

You will need to contact the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board to arrange a time to take the exam, which is proctored in Bismarck.  You can contact them at 701-222-3063.

If you do not pass the exam, you can arrange to take it again at least 30 days after being notified of your results.  If you fail it twice, you will need to wait a year before you can take the test again.

Step 4.  Submit Your North Dakota Application

Once you have received your training and passed your exam, you can apply to receive your North Dakota private investigator license. You will have to pay a $130 fee for your license.  When you apply for the first time, you will also have to pay a one-time fee of $100.

You will have to submit a number of forms that you can download from the state’s website.  These include the following:

  • Application
  • Personal authorization for a criminal background check
  • Certification of training
  • Employment history for the past ten years

Step 5.  Start Work as a Private Investigator in North Dakota

Now that you have received your license, you can start working as a private investigator.  The state requires that you conspicuously post your license at your place of business.  They will send you a laminated pocket card that you should use as you interview people.

You will need to renew your license annually, and it is a crime not to do so if you are working as a North Dakota PI.  Licenses expire on September 30, and you have 30 days to renew it so that it continues to be valid.


Private Investigator Salary Information for North Dakota

The number of private investigators throughout the country is expected to grow 20.7% in the ten year period leading up to 2020 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  September 2013 salary information for PIs in North Dakota is provided by Indeed.com and is listed below:

  • Private investigator:  $32,000
  • Private detective:  $27,000

These are the average salaries for a year.  Experienced professionals can earn substantially higher wages.

A license from the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board (NDPISB) is required to become a private investigator in the state.  Applicants must be at least 18 years of age.  Before they can apply for their license, aspiring PIs must pass a written examination.

The NDPISB requires a substantial amount of experience from those applying for a PI license.  They must have been employed performing investigative services for 2000 hours.  This must have been as a registered employee of a detective agency.

Special training is required to work as an armed PI.  Applicants must have received the same amount of training as peace officers.  There is an additional exam that has both a written part and a part in which to demonstrate firing skills.

Once private investigators have their license, there a number of avenues they can take to find jobs.  According to the BLS, most of the private investigators in the country work for investigative and security service firms.  Fewer people work as PIs in the following industries, but their salaries average over 39% of the mean PI’s salary in the country:

  • Manufacturing of
    • Aerospace product and parts
    • Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments
  • Computer systems design and related services
  • Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution
  • Management, scientific, and technical consulting services

 


 

Ohio

Ohio requires a license to become a private investigator.  They are issued by the Private Investigators & Security Services (PISGS) of the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

In Ohio, a private investigator is defined as anyone who engages in the private investigation business.  Such a business is defined as conducting for hire any of the following types of investigations:

  • Investigations relevant to any wrong done or threat of crime
  • To obtain information on the identity, conduct, habits, affiliations, whereabouts, transactions, credibility, reputation, or character of a person
  • To locate and recover stolen or lost property
  • To determine responsibility or cause of any slander or libel, fire, damage to property, or accident
  • To secure evidence that is used in any administration, legislative, or administrative investigation or proceeding

Step 1.  Meet Ohio Requirements to Obtain a License

You must meet the following qualifications to obtain the Class B license necessary to work as a private investigator in Ohio:

  • Have a good reputation for integrity
  • Not have been convicted of any of the following crimes of moral turpitude
    • A sexually oriented offense
    • Aggravated murder
    • Murder
    • Violence that is a felony of the 1st or 2nd degree
  • Not have been convicted within the past three years
    • Felony that would affect your ability to work as a PI
  • Not have been found incompetent to hold such a license

It may be possible to get a waiver from the Director if you have committed a felony within the past three years that is not a crime of moral turpitude or a disqualifying offense that would directly affect your work as a private investigator.

Step 2.  Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in Ohio

To get a Class B license, the state of Ohio requires that you have two years of experience (minimum of 4000 hours) working in investigatory work.  This requirement can be waived if you have equivalent experience such as working as a military policeman, law enforcement officer, or peace officer.

If you get formal training in criminal justice, such as obtaining an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, this can count for half of your experience requirement.  You can obtain criminal justice degrees from schools within Ohio or from online schools that offer this training.  You will need to prove that you have obtained such a degree.

Armed PI Training – You will need to learn the basics of firearms training at a school that has been approved by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission and prove that you successfully completed the program.  This entails 20 hours of training in using a handgun.  If you plan on using other types of firearms, you will need 5 hours of additional training.

Step 3.  Submit your Ohio Application

When you submit your application, you will also have to provide the following:

  • Photograph (recent full-face)
  • Character references (from at least 5 reputable citizens)
  • Fees:
    • Examination fee of $25
    • License fee of up to $375 (refundable if you don’t get a license)
  • Fingerprints for a criminal background check—submitted directly to the Superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation
  • Proof of liability insurance of at least
    • $100,000 for each investigator
    • $300,000 for each occurrence of bodily injury
    • $100,000 for property damage

Forms are available on the state’s website for the PISGS.  If you want to carry a firearm in the line of work, you will need to notify the Director.

Step 4.  Take the Ohio Examination

After you have submitted your application for your license, you will be notified when and where to go to take your written examination.  Unless you prove illness by a doctor’s certificate, you will have to appear on this date.  The only exception is if you can prove that it would cause you undue hardship.

The exam will cover the state’s regulations for the private investigation business in Chapter 4749 of the state’s revised code, along with other aspects of working as a private investigator.  You will have to score 80% on this 75 question multiple exam to pass it.

Step 5.  Start Work as a Private Investigator in Ohio

After you have passed your exam and received your license, you will be ready to work as a licensed private investigator.  You will need to keep detailed records in English of your business transactions that are relevant to the enforcement of Revised Code Chapter 4749.  You will need to make these records to the Department of Public Safety if they seek to examine them.

You may want to join the Ohio Association of Security & Investigation Services to keep up with what is going on in your field and to network with fellow private investigators.

PI licenses must be renewed yearly.  The fee for this is $275.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Ohio

The Ohio Department of Labor considers the field of private investigation to be one of the occupations with the highest employment prospects in the state.  Three hundred and forty private investigators were employed in Ohio in 2012 according to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics).  The state projects employment levels to increase by 13.3% in the period from 2008 to 2018.

The average annual 2012 salary of a private investigator or private detective in Ohio was $46,080 according to the BLS.  Those in the top 10th percentile earned an average of $73,850 that year.

Nearly two thirds of the PIs in the state were located in Cleveland and Columbus in 2012.  Their average annual salaries and those of the top 10th percentile are listed below, along with those in Cincinnati.

Ohio City
Average Annual Salary
Cincinnati
$52840
Cleveland
$42110
Columbus
$49770

A license from the Ohio Department of Public Safety is required to become a private investigator in Ohio, along with passing a written exam.  A background check and proof of insurance are required to apply for a license.  Applicants must have the following amount of liability insurance:

  • $100,000 per investigator
  • $100,000 for property damage
  • $300,000 for each occurrence of bodily injury

This department also requires that applicants have at least 4000 hours (two years) of experience working as an investigator.  It will waive this requirement for applicants that have equivalent experience such ash having been a law enforcement officer or military policeman.  Applicants that have a criminal justice degree only need 2000 hours of experience

There are additional requirements to work as an armed private investigator.  Applicants must attend a school approved by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission.

The BLS provides a detailed breakdown of wages by city for PIs that were licensed and working in Ohio in 2012.  This information is listed in the following table.

Private Investigator Salaries in Ohio

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Cincinnati-Middletown OH-KY-IN
50
52840
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor OH
110
42110
Columbus OH
110
49770
Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna WV-OH
Estimate not released
27530

 


 

Oklahoma

Private investigators provide information for clients that range from individuals to insurance companies.  In Oklahoma, the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) licenses private investigators according to the regulations of the Oklahoma Security Guard and Private Investigator Act.

Step 1.  Meet Oklahoma Requirements to Obtain a License

You must meet some basic requirements to be able to apply for a private investigator’s license in Oklahoma.  They include the following:

  • Be at least 18 years old (21 years old for an armed license)
  • Be a U.S. citizen or an alien who is legally residing in the country
  • Be of good moral character
  • Have not been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude or a felony*

*There is a list of several dozen crimes that you must not have committed on page 80 (89 in the pdf) in Appendix A of the 2013 CLEET Rules of the private security industry.

Step 2.  Obtain the Necessary Training in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has very specific training requirements that you have to follow to receive your PI license.  You will need to take the following phases of training:

  • Unarmed:  Phases I (20 hours) and III (35 hours)
  • Armed:  Phases I (20 hours) and III (35 hours), and IV (32 hours)

There is a list of approved schools that offer training in these phases in Oklahoma.

If you have equivalent experience, you may be able to get this training requirement waived.  This may apply to the following professions:

  • Oklahoma Correctional Officers
  • Oklahoma Peace Officers
  • Oklahoma Reserve Officers
  • Military Police
  • Out of state Police Officers (full time)
  • Private investigators or security guards
    • Employed full time for one year during the past three years

The one exception is firearms training. The requirement for firearms training cannot be waived.

Step 3.  Submit your Oklahoma Application

When you first apply for your license, you will need to provide a number of items along with your application.  You must submit the following:

  • Application (including notarized signature)
  • Arrest history:  letter of no record or certified court judgment and sentence
  • Fingerprint cards (usually available from your local Sheriff’s Office or Police Department)
  • Photographs (2 current passport sized or 3 for armed licenses)
  • Record checks
    • Local Police Department
    • Sheriff Department
  • Proof of bond/insurance or letter of employment
  • Documented proof of experience or comparable training
  • Fee made out to CLEET (no personal checks; cash only at offices)
    • Unarmed PI:  $91
    • Armed PI:  $141
  • Agency application (if self-employed)

Applicants for an armed license have additional requirements:

  • Passage of a psychological evaluation from a licensed psychologist
  • Certification of firearms training

If you do not have the required training, but you are employed as a trainee or full time investigator at an agency, you can apply for a conditional license that is good for 180 days.  During that time, you will have to obtain the required training.  The cost of a conditional license is the same as for a regular one.

Step 4.  Take the Oklahoma Examination

As part of your application process, you will have to take an online examination that is provided by CLEET.  The fee for this exam is $25.  You can take it at any one of several dozen locations throughout Oklahoma.  The tests start at 9 AM, and you will have to achieve a score of 70% to pass it.

Step 5.  Start Work as a Private Investigator in Oklahoma

Now that you have passed your exam, the state will send you a license that you are a bona fide private investigator.  You will need to carry this card on you at all times while you are working as a PI and be prepared to present it to a law enforcement officer or CLEET representative.

If you change your name, telephone number or address, you will need to notify the Council.  This must be within ten days for changes of your phone number and address.

When you are self-employed, you will need to have your own liability insurance or surety bond provided by a company that has a license to do business in the state.

In addition, you may want to join the Oklahoma Private Investigators Association (OPIA) that provides networking opportunities throughout the state.  This can provide opportunities for jobs.

Step 6.  Fulfill your Continuing Education Requirement in Oklahoma

Both armed and unarmed private investigators are required by the state of Oklahoma to get 16 hours of continuing education a year to renew your license.  Your initial training to get your license will suffice for your first year.  After that, you have a number of options for your training.

One option is to get training in your field such as formal criminal justice training.  One credit hour will count for 15 hours of your mandated training.  You can take such courses from instate schools or online courses that offer options in criminal justice.

Another option is to obtain training from established entities such as the National Legal Association or the Oklahoma Bar Association.  You will be granted one hour of credit for each hour of training, provided that the training directly relates to your work as a private investigator.

Your final option is to take part in CLEET seminars, conferences, or accredited schools.  You will also receive one hour of credit for training if you obtain your training in this manner.  OPIA seminars can also count towards this continuing education requirement.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Oklahoma

The field of private investigation is growing in Oklahoma, and the state’s Employment Security Commission estimates the job growth of private investigators to be 22.3% in the period from 2008 to 2018.  These professionals earned a median salary of $36,300 a year in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Experienced private investigators earned nearly double that.  The average salary of those in the top tenth percentile was $64,080.

Many of the private investigator and private detective jobs in Oklahoma are concentrated in the southeastern nonmetropolitan part of the state.  In 2012, 44% of the state’s PIs were located in this area according to the BLS.  This area has the third highest level of employment and concentration of jobs of any nonmetropolitan area in the country.  It also has the third highest wages of all of the nonmetropolitan areas that were analyzed by the BLS.

To become a private investigator in Oklahoma, a license from the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) is required.  Investigators must be at least 21 years old if they want to apply for an armed license or 18 years old for a regular license.

Specific training is required to get a license in Oklahoma.  Applicants who have worked as correctional, peace, or reserve officers in the state may be able to get this requirement waived.  This is also true for applicants who have a year’s full-time work experience as a private investigator or security guard.

Applicants who will be working independently are required to have proof of liability insurance.  CLEET also requires that applicants pass an online exam as part of their application process.

Those who are applying for an armed license have to pass a psychological exam and have a certification that they have been trained in the use of firearms.

The BLS provides salary information on the PIs who were licensed and employed in Oklahoma in 2012.  A breakdown of annual and hourly salaries for the nonmetropolitan area of southeast Oklahoma is listed in the following table.

Private Investigation Salaries in Oklahoma

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Southeastern Oklahoma nonmetropolitan area
40
36430

 


 

Oregon

There are a number of different types of jobs for private investigators in Oregon, ranging from investigating potential investment companies to aiding attorneys in criminal defense cases.

Oregon’s Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) licenses private investigators who work in the state.  The DPSST officially defines these professionals as investigators who solicit or accept employment to furnish or obtain information about crimes, persons, property, accidents, etc.

Step 1.  Meet Oregon Requirements to Obtain a License

You must meet several requirements to be able to become a private investigator in Oregon.  These include:

  • Being a U.S. citizen
  • Being at least 18 years old Having the following verifiable experience performing investigative work:
    • 1,500 hours
    • A substitution of up to 500 hours of education

Step 2.  Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in Oregon

Before you can become a licensed private investigator in Oregon, you will need to have 1500 hours experience performing investigative work.  You will have to contact a detective agency or a private investigator to offer them your services as an apprentice.

You can reduce the time you will need to work by 1/3 by obtaining advanced education. Three hours in class counts as one hour of allowable experience.  Also, having an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice would help make you a more desirable candidate for jobs in the investigative field.

Obtaining a degree in criminal justice will also help you learn about the legal system that you will be navigating and help to hone your analytical skills.  You can obtain this training from schools located in cities such as Portland, Salem, Eugene, or Gresham.  Another option is to enroll in online training that is offered by a number of accredited institutions.

Step 3.  Submit your Oregon Application

When you apply for your license, you will need the following items:

  • Fees made out to DPSST (no personal checks or cash)
    • Background check and exam fee:  $79
    • License fee:  $550
      • Those who have returned from active military status are exempt
  • Application (PS-1)
  • Letters of reference (3 professional)
  • Fingerprint cards
    • Sealed with affidavit (PS-4) in a tamperproof bag
  • Photographs (2 electronic taken within last six months)
  • Bond or insurance:
    • $5,000 corporate surety bond or
    • $5,000 errors and omissions insurance, showing individual licensee
  • Resume (clearly showing education, qualifications, and work experience)
  • Professional Code of Ethics for PIs (PI-27)

You can expect the process to take 4 to 8 weeks.

Step 4.  Take the Oregon Examination

Once your application packet has been processed, the state will notify you of your registration to take the PI Proficiency exam.  Once you have been approved for the exam, you can call 503-378-8531 to make an appointment to take it.  You should study for this exam ahead of time to increase your chances of passing.  Oregon statutes Chapter 9, 40, 135, and 161-167 will be covered.

There are two phases in the examination process.  First, you will be given an orientation that covers general licensing requirements and standards.  You will be given a lunch break and then will take the exam immediately afterwards.

This open book exam has a combination of 50 true/false and multiple choice questions.  Copies of Oregon Revised Statute and Administration Rule that are relevant to the exam will be provided to you.  You are not allowed to bring your own material.

You will have to attain a score of 86% to pass, and you will be given up to three tries to pass it.  If you do not pass during these three attempts, you will have to wait a year to take it again.

Step 5.  Start Work as a Private Investigator in Oregon

Once you passed your exam and received your license, you will be ready to start work as a licensed private investigator. Your license will be good for two years.

You may want to join the Oregon Association of Licensed Investigators, Inc..  In addition to opportunities for networking, you can obtain such benefits as a discounted website for your business.

During the time period for which your license is valid, you will need to obtain 32 hours of continuing education.  Two of these hours must be in ethics.  You can obtain this education from a variety of places, including:

  • Attending:
    • Educational institutions
      • Up to 20 hours can be obtained online
  • Conferences and seminars
  • Computer seminars
  • Publishing an article or a book
  • TV and radio appearances
  • Reading:
    • Non-fiction books relevant to investigation
    • Professional/technical manuals

To determine exactly what qualifies for continuing education credits, you can review the continuing education guidelines in Division 61 section 259-061-0260 of Oregon’s Administrative Rules.  You must submit a summary form of this education when you apply for your renewal.

To be sure your renewal is processed in time, you should apply at least two weeks before the expiration date of your license.  If you turn in your renewal package late, you will have to pay a $25 late fee.  You will have to retake the exam and go through another background check if you apply for your renewal more than 30 days past the expiration date.  It is illegal for you to work as a PI in Oregon after your license expires.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Oregon

The growth of jobs for private investigators in Oregon is expected to be robust in the ten year period leading up to 2020.  Oregon’s Employment Department estimates job growth to be 16.1%.  While 60% of these jobs are predicted to come from replacing investigators that leave the workforce, 40% are projected to be from the creation of new jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 230 PIs were employed in Oregon in 2012.

Their annual median wage is listed below followed by that of the highest earning PIs in the top 10th percentile.

Oregon City
Average Annual Salary
Oregon-statewide
$36090
Portland
$35050

To become a private detective or private investigator in Oregon, a license from the state’s Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) is required.  Veterans who actively served in the military do not have to pay a licensing fee.

Applicants will have to fulfill a number of requirements and take a written exam to obtain this license.  They must achieve a score of 86% to pass this test.

Only those who are at least 18 years old can apply for a license.  They must have at least 1500 hours of experience as an investigator.  This time can be reduced by up to a third with college credit hours.

A criminal background check is also required, and applicants must have $5000 liability insurance either as a surety bond or errors and omissions insurance.  The DPSST also requires three professional letters of reference.

Licenses are good for two years, and private investigators must obtain 32 hours of continuing education to be able to renew it.

The BLS provides detailed 2012 salary information for private investigators in geographic regions.  In the case of Oregon, a detailed breakdown of the Portland area is available and is shown in the following table.

Private Investigator Salaries in Oregon

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro OR-WA
160
39990

 


 

Pennsylvania

You are required to obtain a license to become a private investigator in Pennsylvania.  While the state provides the regulations for getting a license, you will need to get your license from the county you plan to work in.

The business of being a private investigator in Pennsylvania is defined as investigating any of the following for hire, reward, or any other purpose:

  • Crime or wrongs threatened or done against the U.S. government or any territory or state
  • The conduct, habits, whereabouts, movements, associations, affiliations, reputation, transactions or character of any person, groups, organization, society, association, partnership, or corporation
  • The credibility of witnesses or other people
  • The whereabouts of missing persons
  • The recovery or location of stolen or lost property
  • The origin of, cause, or responsibility for libels, fires, losses, accidents, injuries, or damage to real or personal property
  • The connection, affiliation, or relation of any partnership, person, or corporation with any society, organization, union, or association or with an official representative or member of such an entity
  • With reference to any person or people seeking employment in the place of someone who has gone on strike
  • With reference to the honesty, conduct, loyalty, efficiency, or activities of employees, contractors and subcontractors, or agents
  • Securing evidence to be used before any official business or in criminal or civil trials
  • Furnishing watchmen, private patrolmen, or guards for hire or reward to protect people or property

Step 1.  Meet Pennsylvania Requirements to Obtain a License

You must meet the following requirements to become a private investigator in Pennsylvania:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be at least 25 years old
  • Have three years of experience as a
    • Detective agency employee
    • Law enforcement agent (with a rank higher than a patrolman)
  • Not have been convicted of any of the following:
    • Felony
    • Illegally using, carrying, or possessing a dangerous weapon
    • Making or possessing instruments for burglary
    • Unlawfully entering a building
    • Aiding a prison escape
    • Unlawfully distributing or possessing habit forming narcotic drugs
    • Picking pockets (or trying to do so)
    • Recklessly endangering another person
    • Committing simple assault
    • Soliciting a person to commit sodomy or other lewdness
    • Making threats of terrorism

Step 2.  Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in Pennsylvania

Although the state of Pennsylvania does not have any requirement for education, obtaining formal training in criminal justice will make you a more desirable candidate as you look to fulfill your requirement to work for a detective agency for three years.

In addition, you will need strong analytical skills to work as a private investigator.  An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is one way to obtain such skills.  You can obtain this training from schools located in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, and a number of other cities in Pennsylvania.  Another option is to enroll in one of the online schools that offer training in this area.

Step 3.  Submit Your Pennsylvania Application

Once you have met the requirements to become a private investigator, you should contact your Clerk of Courts to find out exactly how to submit your application and the amount of your county’s filing fee.  The state requires that you submit the following with your application:

  • Fingerprint cards
  • The signatures of five character references who have known you for at least 5 years
  • Passport size photographs (2)
  • Surety bond for $10,000
  • License fee of $200 for an individual

In most counties, the District Attorney will issue your license after a wait of at least 10 days from the filing date.

Step 4.  Start Work as a Private Investigator in Pennsylvania

Once you have obtained your license, the state requires that you post it conspicuously at your place of business.  Also, your county will send you a pocket license card.  You can work as a private investigator for two years before you need to renew your license.

You may wish to join the Pennsylvania Association of Licensed Investigators that provides valuable information and networking opportunities within the state.  There are a number of sources for jobs as PIs in this state, including attorneys, insurance companies, and individuals.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania had the fifth highest concentration of private investigator and private detective employment in the county in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry estimated that demand for private investigators in the state will increase 9.7% in the ten year period leading up to 2014.

Of the 2,070 PIs working in the state in 2012, nearly half were located in Philadelphia.  This city had the second highest level of employment of private investigators of any metropolitan area in the country.  Pittsburgh also has a lot of PIs for its size and had the eighth highest employment level for that year.

BLS 2012 salary data for the state as a whole and for selected cities is listed below:

Pennsylvania City
Average Annual Salary
Pennsylvania statewide
$41550
Allentown
$56800
Philadelphia
$35540
Pittsburgh
$48460

The areas outside of cities in Pennsylvania can also be lucrative areas in which to work as a private investigator.  The far western nonmetropolitan area of the state had the second highest wages of any nonmetropolitan area in the country and the fifth highest level of employment.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, nearly 18% of the private investigators in the state were self-employed in 2004.  Fifty three percent of the PIs in the state worked for one of the following three types of industries:

  • Investigation and security services:  30%
  • Department stores:  14.5%
  • Other general merchandise stores:  8.3%

Like most states, Pennsylvania requires a license to work as a private investigator.  In contrast to most other states, however, PI licenses are granted at the county level.  Applicants must be at least 25 years old and have three years of experience working as:

  • An employee of a detective agency
  • A law enforcement agent at a rank higher than a patrol officer

The BLS provides a detailed breakdown of wages by geographic areas and has information on salaries on a number of locations in Pennsylvania.  This is provided in the following table:

Private Investigator Salaries in Pennsylvania

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton PA-NJ
110
57410
Harrisburg-Carlisle PA
80
54530
Newark-Union NJ-PA Metropolitan Division
Estimate not released
56960
Philadelphia PA Metropolitan Division
950
48640
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington PA-NJ-DE-MD
1000
49030
Pittsburgh PA
390
48460
Far Western Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area
50
39990

 


 

Rhode Island

The state of Rhode Island defines a private investigator as a person who has been hired to conduct investigations involving the following:

  • Clandestine surveillance
  • Inquiries into unsolved crimes
  • The search for stolen or lost property
  • The search for missing persons

Private investigators in this state must be licensed by the local authorities where their places of business are located.

Step 1.  Meet the Rhode Island Requirements to Obtain a License

There a number of requirements that you must meet before you can apply for a license to be a private investigator in Rhode Island.  They include the following:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Not have had any previous PI license revoked or have been denied a license
  • Not have been declared incompetent by reason of mental disease or defect
  • Be of good moral character
  • Not suffer from narcotics or alcohol addiction (ok if sober and recovery period completed)
  • Have one of the following:
    • Five years experience as a law enforcement investigator or police officer
    • A criminal justice degree from an accredited university or college
    • Five years of employment as an investigator for a private detective
    • Equivalent training or experience

Step 2.  Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in Rhode Island

If you are not already a law enforcement official, you will need to have either a criminal justice degree or a substantial amount of experience working in the field of private security.  You can obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from schools in cities such as Providence, Warwick, or East Greenwich.  Another option is to seek training from of the online schools that offer this type of education.

In addition to fulfilling a requirement, formal training in criminal justice should help you as you navigate the legal system and improve your analytical skills.

Step 3.  Submit Your Rhode Island Application

You will have to contact your local city or county to find out the particulars of submitting an application in your jurisdiction.  The state of Rhode Island requires that you provide the following along with your application:

  • $150 license fee
  • A surety bond for $5,000

Step 4.  Start Work as a Private Investigator in Rhode Island

Once your license has been granted, the licensing authority will send you an identification card to carry as you go about your work.  You may want to join the Licensed Private Detectives Association of Rhode Island.  They offer informational meetings and opportunities to network with fellow private investigators throughout the state.

There are a number of different types of jobs available to a licensed private investigator.  Some PIs work for individuals, while others work for insurance companies to investigate suspicious claims.  Yet others work for criminal or civil attorneys to assist them with their cases.

Your license will expire in one year, and you will have to renew it at least thirty days before its expiration date.  There is a $150 fee to renew it.  You will be able to keep working while your renewal is pending.

The occupation of private investigation is expected to grow over 20% nationally in the period from 2010 to 2020.  The average annual salaries for these professionals in Rhode Island are available from Indeed.com for September 2013.  They are listed below:

  • Private investigator:  $39,000
  • Private detective:  $26,000


Private Investigator Salary Information for Rhode Island

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has provided 2012 salary information for the Norwich-New London area.  The annual mean salary was $44,880, while experienced professionals made $78,550 a year.

As with most states, a license is required to work as a private investigator in Rhode Island.  In contrast to most, though, licenses are issued at the county or municipal level.  That state does require that applicants have liability insurance in the form of a $5,000 surety bond.

The state of Rhode Island requires a substantial amount of experience or training to be able to apply to be a private investigator.  One of the following is required:

  • Being a law enforcement officer or investigator for 5 years
  • Having a criminal justice degree
  • Being employed as an investigator for a private detective for 5 years
  • Having equivalent training or experience

Once a license has been obtained, it is good for one year.

There are a number of types of jobs available for licensed private investigators in Rhode Island.  While a substantial amount of PIs are self-employed, most work for firms that specialize in investigative and security services.  State and local governments employ a number of private investigators.

The other major employers of private investigators are legal and management services.

A detailed breakdown of annual and salary percentile wages is available from the BLS for the Norwich-New London area and is show in the following table.

Private Investigator Salaries in Rhode Island

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Norwich-New London CT-RI
Estimate not released
44880
Providence-Fall River-Warwick RI-MA
40
Estimate not released

 


 

South Carolina

In South Carolina, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) licenses private investigators.  This license entitles you to do the following:

  • Operate a private investigation or private security business or entity
  • Perform or employ others to pursue investigative activities
  • Charge fees for private investigative services

Step 1.  Meet the Requirements to Obtain a License in South Carolina

You must meet a number of requirements to become a private investigator in South Carolina.  They include the following:

  • Be at least 18 years old (21 if armed)
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • If you are a veteran, you must have one of the following discharges:
    • Honorable
    • General under Honorable
    • Uncharacterized
  • Not have been convicted of one of the following crimes:
    • Felony
    • Crime of moral turpitude
  • Not have a pending criminal charge that would disqualify you
  • Not currently holding a position that would be a conflict of interest
    • Exception is law enforcement officers that work unregistered for Premise Companies under the Moonlighting statute

Step 2.  Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in South Carolina

To get a license to operate a PI business, you need to have a substantial amount of experience or training.  These include either:

  • Three years of employment as a full time sworn police officer employed in an investigative capacity
  • Equivalent amount of experience while a registered employee of a licensed PI business

Formal training in criminal justice can be applied toward the experience requirement.  The amount of credit that each degree provides is as follows:

  • Certificate for study of PI:  Six months
  • Associate’s degree:  Six months
  • Bachelor’s degree:  One year
  • Graduate degree:  One and a half years

Criminal justice degrees are available from schools in Charleston, North Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, and other cities in South Carolina.  Another way to obtain such degrees is by enrolling in one of the online schools that offer criminal justice training.

Step 3.  Submit Your South Carolina Application

Once you have obtained the required training, you can submit your application for a new private investigator’s business license.  You obtain the forms you need from the state’s website.  You will need to provide the following items:

  • Application (signed and notarized)
  • License fee:  $350 money order, cashier’s check, or company check made out to SLED
  • Fingerprint cards (2 complete sets)
  • Photograph (color taken within the past 3 months)
  • Surety bond for $10,000
  • Statement from your county’s Clerk of Court’s office that you do not have any outstanding civil judgments
  • Forms:
    • PD/PS-9
    • Disclosure of Principal(s)
    • Qualifications
    • DD-214 (if you have served in the military)
    • Copy of a sample contract

Step 4.  Start Work as a Private Investigator in South Carolina

After 4 to 6 weeks, you should receive your license and you can start work as a private investigator.  There are a number of different types of jobs that you can take as a PI in South Carolina.  Civil and defense attorneys, insurance companies, and some individuals employ private investigators.

The requirements for being an armed PI differ depending on your experience.  If you are a retired law enforcement officer, you do not need a permit to carry a gun in South Carolina.  If you are a resident of the state and meet the standards for a Concealable Weapons Permit (CWP), you can carry a handgun anywhere in the state except where prohibited by state or federal law.

Your license will be good for one year.  To renew it, you will need to have 12 hours of continuing education credits that have been verified by SLED during the 24-month period before your renewal.

This can include college, correspondence, or self-study programs.  SLED offers seminars that count towards this requirement, and at least 4 hours of the training must be presented by SLED or approved in advance in writing.  You will have to provide proof of your education when you submit your renewal.


Private Investigator Salary Information for South Carolina

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 160 private investigators were employed in South Carolina in 2012.  Their annual median wage was $49,920 with those in the top tenth percentile of their wage bracket averaging $68,670 a year.

Information on salaries from the BLS are presented for selected areas in South Carolina:

South Carolina City
Average Annual Salary
Augusta-Richmond County
$42820
Columbia
$52450

A license from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is required to be a private investigator or private detective in the state.  Applicants must be at least 21 years old if they wish to be armed or 18 years old otherwise.  They must submit proof of having liability insurance in the form of a $10,000 surety bond.

SLED requires that applicants have a substantial amount of experience to become a private investigator or a private detective.  Three years of full time employment is required in one of the following categories:

  • Investigative sworn police officer
  • Registered employee of a private investigator business that is licensed

Applicants can get credit towards this requirement by obtaining a formal education in criminal justice.  The following amount of credit is granted for these degrees:

  • Six months:  certificate or associate’s degree
  • One year:  bachelor’s
  • One and a half years:  graduate

The permit requirements for carrying a firearm as a PI vary depending on the person’s background.  Retired law enforcement officers do not need a permit.  Other private investigators have to meet the state’s standards to carry a concealed weapon.

A private investigator’s license is good for one year in South Carolina.  Twelve hours of continuing education is required to get a renewal.

Salary data on the private investigators that were employed in 2012 is available from the BLS.  The data available on South Carolina is presented in the following table.

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Augusta-Richmond County GA-SC
40
43540
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill NC-SC
90
Estimate not released
Columbia SC
70
50300

 


 

South Dakota

Private investigators obtain information about people or businesses for clients ranging from attorneys to insurance companies.  The business of being a PI can include the following types of investigations, among others:

  • Providing information for defense attorneys to prepare their case
  • Examining whether potential investors are reliable
  • Determining whether people on workman’s compensation are really disabled
  • Investigating a spouse to see whether the person is involved in an infidelity

The state of South Dakota does not license private investigators.  If you will be working independently, you will need to establish yourself as a business.  You will also need to obtain a sales tax license and check with your city and county to see if there are any local ordinances that you would need to follow.

Step 1.  Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in South Dakota

Although there are no stated education and training requirements to become a private investigator in South Dakota, you will need strong analytical skills and a working knowledge of the legal system.  You can obtain these skills by working as an employee for a detective agency or by obtaining a degree in criminal justice.

An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice would strengthen your analytical skills and give you a firm grounding in the state and federal legal system.  You can obtain this type of training from schools located in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Yankton, Vermillion, and Mitchell.  In addition, you can obtain criminal justice degrees from one of the many online schools that offer degrees in this field.

Step 2.  Set up Your Business in South Dakota

If you plan on working alone as a private investigator, you will need to set up an independent PI agency business.  You should consult with a tax specialist to determine if you want to have a sole proprietorship or incorporate as an LLC.

There are advantages to incorporating.  If someone were to sue you over the course of your investigations, your personal assets would be protected.  This is not the case if you are the sole proprietor.

If you decide to name your company as something other than your name, you will need to register the fictitious name:

  • Sole proprietors:  register with the county Register of Deeds
  • Corporations:  register and start your business process with the Office of the South Dakota Secretary of State

Once your business has been approved by the state, you will need to obtain a federal tax ID number from the IRS if you have incorporated the business.  This is not necessary for sole proprietors.  You will also need to register with the Unemployment Insurance Tax Unit.

Step 3.  Obtain a South Dakota Sales Tax License

Your services as a private investigator fall under the Department of Revenue’s Business Tax Division’s Sales and Service Tax License.  You will not need to worry about this if you are an employee, but if you have established yourself as a principal of a new PI agency business, you will need to charge sales tax.

The state of South Dakota charges a 4% tax on all of the services you provide.  You will need to obtain a license to charge sales tax from the South Dakota Department of Revenue.  In addition, approximately 53% of the municipalities in the state have an additional tax.

Step 4.  Start Work as a Private Investigator in South Dakota

Once you have obtained your sales tax license and checked with your city or county to make sure you have complied with any local rules, you can start work as a private investigator.

If you want to work for a detective agency, there are several prominent ones that sometimes offer jobs to aspiring private investigators in South Dakota:

  • Executive Services Consultants
  • Investigative Services of Nebraska/South Dakota/Iowa
  • South Dakota Private Investigators
  • Stealth Investigative Agency


Private Investigator Salary Information for South Dakota

South Dakota is a good state in which to find employment as a private investigator or private detective.  The state had the second highest concentration of these types of jobs per population in the country according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

One hundred and sixty private investigators were employed in South Dakota in 2012, and their ranks are expected to swell by 15.6% between 2010 and 2020 according to the state’s occupational employment projections.

The BLS has provided information on the salaries of private investigators in South Dakota in 2012.  They earned an average salary of $33,720, while those with experience who were in the top tenth percentile made $59,340 per year.

It is relatively easy to become a private investigator in South Dakota, since there are no licensing requirements for private investigators.  Aspiring PIs should be prepared to establish themselves as sole proprietors or to incorporate and then obtain a business license.

A number of different types of jobs are available for private investigators.  The largest group of employers is typically investigative and security firms.  These professionals also work for insurance companies, helping them to prevent fraud in their worker’s compensation policies.

Many private investigators work for stores helping them to minimize their losses from shoplifters or theft from employees.  Local and state governments employ PIs to perform background checks on potential employees and license holders.

A smaller percentage of private investigators work in the more lucrative fields of the manufacturing of aerospace components or medical devices.  They help to protect trade secrets.

Individuals are a common source of employment for PIs.  Before making substantial investments, the potential investors often want to ensure that their deposits are being made with an ethical person.  Other individuals hire PIs for more personal matters, such as investigating a spouse’s potential infidelity or helping them with child custody situations.

 


 

Tennessee

Private investigators in Tennessee are licensed by the Department of Commerce and Insurance (TCDI).  It has a special commission for investigations:  the Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission.  They define a private investigator as a person who accepts employment or engages in the business to furnish or obtain information having to do with one or more of the following:

  • Wrongs or crimes threatened or done against the U.S. or any state or territory
  • The activity, acts, affiliations, associations, business, conduct, credibility, efficiency, habits, honesty, identity, knowledge, loyalty, occupation, reputations, transactions, trustworthiness, or whereabouts of any person
  • The disposition, location, or recovery of stolen or lost property
  • The responsibility or cause of accidents, damages, fires, injuries, or losses to people or property
  • The securing of evidence to used before any official body

Step 1.  Meet the Requirements to Obtain a License in Tennessee

You must meet a number of requirements to be able to apply for a license to be a private investigator in Tennessee.  They include the following:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien
  • Not have been declared incompetent by reason of mental disease or defect (unless you have subsequently been declared competent)
  • License your own company or be affiliated with a licensed PI company in the state
  • Be of good moral character
  • Not suffer from narcotics addiction or dependence or habitual drunkenness
  • Not have practiced deceit, fraud, or misrepresentation

Step 2.  Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in Tennessee

To be a top-notch investigator requires superb analytical skills.  Obtaining formal education in criminal justice is one way to hone these abilities.  You can obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from schools that are found in a number of cities in the state, including Chattanooga, Clarksville, Memphis, Murfreesboro, and Nashville.  In addition, you can also obtain a criminal justice degree from one of the online schools that offer such options.

Although the state of Tennessee does not specify any particular degree to become a licensed PI, you would benefit from obtaining training in this field.  This will help you be a desirable candidate and is particularly important, since it is common for new PIs to obtain their license as an employee of an agency.

Step 3.  Submit Your Tennessee Application

Once you are satisfied with your skill level, you need to submit your application to the state of Tennessee.  You will need to provide the following items:

  • Application
  • Fees:
    • Application:  $150
    • Fingerprint processing:  $60
    • License:  $100
  • Fingerprint cards (3 sets) or a photocopy of your electronic submission receipt
  • Photographs (2 color passport style)
  • Letter of endorsement/affiliation from a Private Investigation Company
  • Information on criminal arrests, charges, and convictions

You can also apply as an Apprentice.  You will need to have a written notice from the owner or qualifying agent of a licensed company that he or she intends to sponsor you.  This period is limited to six months, and you can only apply once.

Step 4.  Take the Tennessee Examination

After you have submitted your application, you will have to take the state’s examination.  This two hour exam has 50 questions that are drawn from the following:

  • Tennessee Private Investigator Laws & Rules online (60%)
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating (40%)

You will need to study ahead of time, since you are not allowed to bring any study materials into the exam.

As of April 2013, this exam is temporarily unavailable while the Commission is working to get a new proctor to conduct them.

Step 5.  Start Work as a Private Investigator in Tennessee

Once you have passed the exam, the Commission will contact you about your license and the license fee.  Processing time averages three to four months.  You can start work after you have been contacted and granted your license.  It is good for two years.

When you go to renew your license, you will need to have completed twelve hours of continuing education.  You should check with the Commission to see what is acceptable for this training.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Tennessee

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 190 private investigators were employed in Tennessee in 2012.  The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development projects a growth rate of 1.5% a year in the period from 2008 to 2018.  Ten new openings a year are projected, along with an additional twenty jobs produced by people leaving the workforce in the state.

The BLS indicates that private investigators in Tennessee made a median annual salary of $52,990 in 2012.   Salaries are higher for experienced professionals.  Those in the top 10th percentile earned $87,970 a year in 2012.

Salaries for private investigators in selected cities in Tennessee are listed below:

Tennessee City
Average Annual Salary
Memphis
$66420
Nashville
$54050

A license is required to become a private investigator or private detective in Tennessee.  Applicants must be at least 21 years old to obtain their license from the Department of Commerce and Insurance.  They must either be affiliated with a licensed private investigator firm in the state or be prepared to license their own company.

Once an application has been submitted, it is necessary to take a two hour examination to become a PI.  Licenses are good for two years.  There is a requirement for twelve hours of continuing education to get it renewed.

Private investigators in Tennessee work in a number of different industries.  Loss prevention for retail stores is a commons source of jobs.  These PIs work both to protect the stores from shoplifting and from employee theft.

A number of private investigators are self-employed.  Individuals are frequently customers, since concern about infidelity is a common problem, as is tracking down missing relatives or friends.

Information on the PIs that were licensed and employed in Tennessee in 2012 is provided by the BLS.  A detailed breakdown of employment levels, and various percentiles of annual and hourly wages is presented in the following table.

Private Investigator Salaries in Tennessee

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Memphis TN-MS-AR
70
62840
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin TN
90
52730

 


 

Texas

The Texas Workforce Commission expects job opportunities for private investigators and detectives in the state to increase by 26.5 percent during the ten-year period from 2010 to 2020. The growing demand for PIs skilled in investigating everything from fraudulent insurance claims to marital infidelity makes this an exciting time to enter this growing career field.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, Private Security Bureau (PSB) is responsible for regulating private investigations agencies, agency owners and the PIs that work for these agencies. Gaining the authorization necessary to legally conduct investigative services as defined in the Texas Private Security Act requires an individual PI to be affiliated with a registered agency or to establish an independent private investigations agency of their own. A private investigations agency can consist of just the agency owner working independently, or the owner and a number of employees.

If you are interested in becoming a private investigator but don’t have any active job prospects with established PI agencies, you may consider opening an agency of your own.

Step 1. Meet the Basic PI Registration Requirements

Whether you intend to start working as a PI for an established private investigations agency or establish one of your own, there are a few fundamental requirements you must meet in order to become registered in Texas.

Consult this checklist to make sure you meet all the basic requirements:

  • You are at least 18 years old
  • You have never been convicted of a felony in any jurisdiction
  • You have not been convicted in the past five years of a Class B misdemeanor in any jurisdiction
  • You are not currently charged with or under indictment for a Class A misdemeanor or felony
  • You are not currently charged with a Class B misdemeanor
  • You have never been found incompetent due to mental defect or disease by a court
  • You are not required to register in Texas or any other jurisdiction as a sex offender
  • You have never been dishonorably discharged from U.S. military service

Step 2. Fulfill Education and Experience Requirements

If you plan to work for a private investigation company …

You must be sponsored by a private investigations agency licensed in Texas before you can apply for registration as a private investigator. This either means that you must be employed by or have a firm job offer from a private investigative agency licensed in Texas.

As an individual private investigator that plans to work for an established PI agency that is licensed in the state of Texas, you are only subject to the education and training requirements that your employer sets. The state of Texas does not regulate or require training for individual PIs working for licensed agencies.

Employers will always look for the most qualified candidates, so in the absence of law enforcement, military or investigative experience, you may consider earning an undergraduate degree in criminal justice or a related field. Degree options available at schools in Texas include:

  • Bachelor in Business Administration – Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science-Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice- Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice – Human Services

If you plan to start a private investigation company …

If you wish to open your own licensed private investigative agency in Texas, you must meet the qualifications to become a private investigation company owner/manager. This means you must meet ONE of the following combined education and experience requirements:

  • Three years of private investigation experience
  • Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field
  • Bachelor’s degree in any field, plus six months of investigative experience
  • Associate degree in criminal justice or a related field plus one year of investigative experience
  • Specialized private investigator training (200 hours minimum)

Step 3. Register your New PI Agency or Become Registered with an Existing Agency

If you plan to work for a private investigation company …

If you are applying for initial private investigator registration in Texas, your employer will gather your personal information, have you complete the Original Registration Application Supplement and use the online application system to submit an application for your registration with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Private Security Bureau (PSB) as an employee of the agency. Becoming registered involves submitting fingerprints that will be used for an FBI background check.

After completing the online registration process and paying the application fee, your employer will be issued a receipt with instructions on how to go about getting your fingerprints taken along with a list of third-party locations approved for electronic fingerprinting in Texas.

When your FBI background check clears and you have been approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety, Private Security Bureau, your private investigator license will be mailed to your employer’s place of business.

If you plan to start a private investigation company …

If registering a new PI company, you will need to submit a PSB-01 Company License Application Form. This will involve having your company name approved to ensure it isn’t being used by another business in Texas. You are allowed to simply use your own name, and may choose to do so whether working independently or hiring employees. The company license application also involves identifying all owners/partners/shareholders and the ownership structure of the company (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, LLC or LLP).

If submitting online, you must wait 24 hours after completing your company application before submitting your individual owner/manager application. As the owner of the PI company, you must submit the Original Owner/Manager Application or apply online and submit the Online Owner/Manager Application Supplement.

You will then need to submit:

  • $33 application fee
  • $25 FBI classification fee and two completed fingerprint cards or a receipt from electronic fingerprinting (Use these instructions for fingerprinting and consult this list to find electronic fingerprinting sites in Texas)

If sent by mail, payment must be made by check or money order payable to the Texas Department of Public Safety. All applications and fees submitted by mail must include a PSB-50 form. If applying online, fees are payable by credit card.

If you are applying by mail, send all of the above to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Private Security MSC 0242, P.O. Bo 15999, Austin, TX 78761-5999

You must also pass the Qualified Manager Exam within 90 days of submitting your application. This exam is administered in Austin about three to five times each month. It is a two-hour, multiple-choice and true-false exam made up of 140 questions. You must get at least 105 questions correct to pass the exam. Your results will be sent to you about 30 days after you take the exam.

As company owner, you will also be required to show proof of adequate liability insurance using the Certificate of Liability Insurance Form.

For more information, consult the Instructions for Original Company License Application and General Requirements for Licensing.

Step 4. Now That you’re a Registered Private Investigator or PI Agency Owner in Texas

Well done! You have met all the requirements and completed the process to become a registered private investigator with an established agency, or a private investigative agency owner/manager!

Your registration must be renewed online each year.

As an employee of an established PI agency, your employer will handle the registration renewal for you using the Request for Renewal of Employee form PSB-17.

If you are the owner/manager of the PI agency, you will use the Request for Renewal of Owner/Manager form PSB-18.

As a PI employed with an established agency or agency manager/owner, you will be required to complete continuing education (CE) requirements in order to renew your registration and continue working legally in Texas.

As a registered private investigator employed with a licensed agency, or a participating owner/manager that has been registered for LESS than 15 consecutive years, you are required to complete 18 total hours of continuing education:

  • 14 hours must be related to investigations
  • 2 hours must be specific to ethics
  • 2 hours must be in review of the Texas Private Security Act

As a registered private investigator employed with a licensed agency, or a participating owner/manager that has been registered for MORE than 15 consecutive years, you are required to complete 12 total hours of continuing education:

  • 8 hours must be related to investigations
  • 2 hours must be specific to ethics
  • 2 hours must be in review of the Texas Private Security Act

You must receive your CE from a PSB-approved provider.

Professional Organizations and PI Agencies in Texas

You may consider joining one of the following professional organizations. These professional advocacy agencies will help to increase your networking opportunities as well as provide resources for continuing education:

Just some of the major private investigative agencies found in Texas include:

  • Austin:Akin Investigations
    316 W 12th St., Suite 213
    Austin, TX 78701-1840
  • Houston:DBU Investigations
    7814 Soledad Dr., Suite 120
    Houston, TX 77083
  • Dallas:Gil Wilson
    P.O. Box 190402
    Dallas, TX 75219
    (also serves, Fort Worth, Plano, and Arlington)
  • Amarillo:Sneakers & Heels Licensed Investigation & Trial Work
    3440 S. Bell #320
    Amarillo, TX 79109
  • Lubbock:Kurlander Legal Support Services
    1108 Main St.
    Lubbock, TX 79401
  • Laredo:R&R Private Security
    420 Zaragoza St.
    Laredo, TX 78040
  • Corpus Christi:Eddie Garza Security & Investigations
    4333 Kostoryz Rd.
    Corpus Christi, TX 78407
  • El Paso:S. S. Investigations, Inc.
    521 Texas Ave.
    El Paso, TX 79901


Private Investigator Salary Information for Texas

Texas is a good state in which to find a job as a private investigator or private detective.  Average salaries in this state are the second highest in the country of any state at $64,810 in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Experienced professionals can make nearly twice that in Texas.  The average annual salary of those in the top 10th percentile was $117,150.

Employment levels are also high in this state.  Texas was the state with the fifth highest employment of private investigators in 2012.  Growth is expected to increase, too, according to projections by the state.  It is expected to increase by 27.6% in the period from 2010 to 2020.  Fifty-three percent of this growth is projected to be due to the creation of new private investigator jobs in Texas with the remainder being due to the replacement of people leaving the work force.

Of the 1,420 private investigators working in Texas in 2012, 44% of them were located in the Dallas metropolitan area.  It had the fifth highest level of employment of any metropolitan area in the country in 2012.  Houston had the tenth highest level of salaries of metropolitan areas in the U.S. that year.  Salary information from the BLS for the two largest cities in Texas is listed below:

Texas City
Average Annual Salary
Dallas
$63910
Houston
$67590

To become a private investigator in Texas, a license is required from the Texas Private Security Bureau.  Applicants must be able to qualify as the manager or owner of a PI firm.  If they do not meet these requirements, they must first train with a PI agency.

Detailed salary data is available from the BLS for individuals who worked as private investigators in Texas in 2012.  It is provided in the table below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Texas

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos TX
130
Estimate not released
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington TX
880
68060
Dallas-Plano-Irving TX Metropolitan Division
690
63910
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown TX
130
67590

 


 

Utah

The Utah Department of Public Safety Private Security Bureau licenses qualified individuals as private investigators in the state. Private investigators work all across the state in cities and towns including (but not limited to) Provo, Salt Lake City, West Valley City and West Jordan. The Utah Department of Workforce Services projects that between 2010 and 2020, job opportunities for licensed private investigators statewide will increase by 3.6 percent each year.

Step 1. Meet Basic Licensure Prerequisites for Private Investigators in Utah

Before you embark upon a course of action to become a licensed private investigator in Utah, make sure that you meet these basic prerequisites:

  • You are 21 years of age or older
  • You are a legal resident of the state of Utah
  • You are of good moral character
  • You have the financial ability to post a surety bond
  • You have the proper experience (see Step 2)

Step 2. Meet Education and Experience Requirements for Private Investigators in Utah

Experience

You must have a minimum of 2000 hours of investigative experience in order to apply for licensure to become a private investigator in Utah. Some applicants choose to apply as an Apprentice in order to gain this experience. To do so, you must have a firm offer of employment from a licensed private investigation agency in Utah. Use the application for licensure mentioned in Step 3 below, and follow the instructions.

Education

No formal education is required of private investigator applicants in Utah. However, holding a college degree in criminal justice or a related discipline can be beneficial to you, not only when you apply for licensure but also as you seek job opportunities in private investigation. Examples of helpful degrees for private investigators in Utah include:

  • Associate of Science-Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Science – Paralegal Studies
  • Associate of Applied Science- Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science- Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Business Administration- Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

Step 3. Submit an Application and Supporting Documentation for Licensure as a Private Investigator in Utah

The next step in your quest to become a licensed Utah private investigator is to submit a license application to the Department of Public Safety. Use the Application for Private Investigator Licensure. Make sure to complete the application in its entirety and sign it, and to attach all necessary supporting documentation. You must submit with the application:

  • $100 for a private investigator registrant or apprentice license via credit card or check or money order payable to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification
  • $16.50 FBI fingerprinting/criminal background check fee via credit card or check or money order payable to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification
  • A recent passport-sized color photo of yourself taken in the last 90 days
  • A photocopy of your driver’s license/state identification card
  • One completed fingerprint card (pick one up at the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification, or have your local police department or sheriff’s office assist you)
  • A copy of the required surety bond for $10,000 (this is required for both private investigator registrants and apprentice applications)
  • Verification of Investigative Experience form documenting 2000hours of investigative experience

Mail or bring the above information to Bureau of Criminal Identification, 3888 West 5400 South, Taylorsville, UT 84129. It may take the Bureau 90 days to process your application, which includes conducting a thorough background investigation and review by the Private Investigator Hearing and Licensure Board.

Step 4. Now That You’re a Licensed Private Investigator in Utah

Congratulations! You now hold a Utah license to work as a private investigator! Make sure to keep your license current by renewing it annually on schedule. Use the Renewal Application for Private Investigator License and include a $50 renewal fee. You must also provide proof of a $10,000 Surety Bond.

Opening a Private Investigation Agency in Utah

Now that you’re a licensed private investigator in Utah, you might want to consider working for yourself by opening your own licensed private investigation agency. You cannot do so, however, until you have 10,000 hours of documented investigative experience. You must also get a certificate of workers’ compensation insurance to submit with your Application for Private Investigative Agency license form. In addition, you must send:

  • $200 application fee via check or money order payable to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Investigation
  • Passport-type color photo of yourself taken in the last 90 days
  • Photocopy of your driver’s license or state ID card
  • Completed fingerprint card
  • $16.50 fingerprinting fee (via check or money order to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Investigation)
  • Proof of liability insurance in the amount of $500,000

Mail all of the above to Bureau of Criminal Identification, 3888 West 5400 South, Taylorsville, UT 84129.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Utah

Utah’s Department of Workforce Services gave a four star rating to the occupation of being a private investigator or private detective in the state in 2013.  The highest possible rating was five stars.  This occupation was given its high ranking because there are relatively high wages and a good employment outlook in Utah for private investigators.

The average annual salary for private investigators in Utah in 2012 was $41,540 with experienced PIs in the top tenth percentile making $73,030 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Provo is a particularly lucrative city in which to be a private investigator.  This metropolitan area has the ninth highest level of salaries for PIs of any metropolitan area in the country.  The occupation of private investigation is ranked among the top 100 paying jobs in Provo.

Salary data from the BLS by city is provided below:

Utah City
Average Annual Salary
Provo
$65110
Salt Lake City
$40060

The Department of Workforce Services projects annual growth in this field to be 3.6% a year.  Due to the influx of law enforcement and military retirees into this occupation, the state projects entry-level positions in detective agencies to be the most likely places for jobseekers to find work.

Utah’s Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) requires a license to become a private investigator in the state.  Applicants must be at least 21 years old and undergo a thorough background check.

The BCI has several requirements for those who apply to be private investigators in Utah.  Individuals must have liability insurance in the form of a $10,000 surety bond and at least 2,000 hours of experience as an investigator.

Detailed information on the salaries of private investigators who worked in Provo and Salt Lake City in 2012 is available from the BLS and is show below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Utah

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Provo-Orem UT
Estimate not released
65110
Salt Lake City UT
Estimate not released
40060

 


 

Vermont

The Vermont Board of Private Investigative and Security Services is the branch of the Vermont Secretary of State Office of Professional Regulation that is responsible for licensing and regulating Vermont’s private investigators. Strict experience and training mandates are upheld to ensure that only qualified applicants receive registrations and licenses to practice in Vermont.

Step 1. Meet Basic Requirements for Private Investigators in Vermont

The Vermont Board of Private Investigative and Security Services requires that applicants who wish to become private investigators in the state meet some basic requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have two years of investigative experience
  • Be a citizen of the United States or legal resident
  • Complete required training
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Have a job with a licensed Vermont private investigative agency
  • Be a Vermont resident in good standing with regards to:
    • Child support orders
    • Taxes
    • District court fines
    • Judicial bureau

Step 2. Satisfy Training and Experience Mandates for Private Investigators in Vermont

Experience

Before you may take the state’s required exam and apply to become a registered private investigator in Vermont, you must have at least two years of full-time investigative experience working under the supervision of a licensed Vermont private investigator. If you have worked as a police officer for at least two years, this requirement is considered satisfied.

Training

Prior to becoming a registered private investigator in Vermont, you must complete mandatory state training. This training must be completed after your initial registration application has received temporary approval and during the time you are awaiting permanent registration approval. This training consists of 40 hours in a Board-approved program. Once you have completed the program, your agency will submit proof to the Board for your full registration/licensure. These courses must be included in every 40-hour private investigator training program:

  • Report writing
  • Evidence
  • Statements
  • Observations/note taking
  • Investigative applications and tools
  • Public relations and communication
  • Legal powers/limitations
  • Ethics and professional conduct, including grounds for unprofessional conduct
  • Role of the private investigator

Additionally, if you plan to carry or use firearms as a private investigator, you must also complete a Board-approved firearms training program. This program must be taught by a licensed instructor in a classroom and on the range, and include a written exam at the end of the program. Contents of the program must include:

  • 12 hours of classroom instruction in firearms safety, legal responsibility and usage
  • 4 hours of classroom instruction on safety and use of a particular firearm
  • Written examination
  • Fire a qualifying range course

Education

While a formal college degree is not necessary in order to become a private investigator in Vermont under the Board’s rules, many applicants choose to gain this type of knowledge to help them understand the profession better and to further their investigative knowledge. Degrees that are the most beneficial to Vermont private detective applicants include:

  • Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice-Human Services
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice-Law Enforcement

Step 3. Apply for Registration as a Private Investigator in Vermont

Next, you must apply for registration as a private investigator in Vermont.

  1. Download and complete the Private Investigator and/or Security Guard Registration Application
  2. Submit the proper application fee ($60 if you will be unarmed and $120 if you will be armed) via check payable to Vermont Secretary of State
  3. Attach a recent passport-sized photo of yourself to the application in the correct spot
  4. Have your current supervisor sign the Temporary Registration/Statement of Supervisor
  5. Contact Kara Shangraw, Licensing Board Specialist at (802) 828-1134 to arrange for an FBI background check and fingerprinting if you seek armed status. She will provide you with the proper forms and inform you of the fees associated with this check.
  6. Completed Verification of Firearms Status form from your firearms instructor, if requesting armed status

Mail the above to Vermont Secretary of State, Office or Professional Regulation, 89 Main Street, 3rd Floor, Montpelier, VT 05620-3402.

Once your application is submitted, a thorough background check will be run by the Vermont Criminal Information Center. After this is complete, you will be issued a 60-day temporary registration. During this time, you must complete a Board-approved 40-hour training program (as specified in Step 2 above). Your agency must submit proof of you successfully completing this training before you will be issued a full registration/license as a private investigator in Vermont.

Step 4. If You Wish to Become a Licensed Qualifying Agent or Sole Proprietor of a Private Investigative Agency in Vermont

If you are applying to open your own private investigative agency or to work as a Qualifying Agent (responsible person for a private investigative agency) in Vermont, you must pass the Vermont Private Investigator Examination to receive full licensure. Passing this multiple-choice exam allows you to work as a Qualifying Agent, sole proprietor, or independent private investigator. The examination covers these areas:

  • Public Records in Vermont –1 V.S.A. 310-320
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act – 15 U.S.C. 1681
  • PD/Security Service Licensing Laws – 26 V.S>A. 3151-3183, 3 V.S.A. 121-131, Administrative Rules
  • General knowledge of investigation through academic studies and practical experience

Contact Kara Shangraw, Licensing Board Specialist at (802) 828-1134 to arrange a time to come to the Board offices and take the examination. Once you have passed the exam:

  1. Submit the Private Investigator and/or Security Guard Qualifying Agent Application
  2. Attach a fee of $150 for unarmed status or $200 for armed status via check payable to Vermont Secretary of State
  3. Attach a passport-sized photo of yourself to the application
  4. Request that character references and verifications of your experience be submitted directly by the reference to the Board (form included in application packet)
  5. Complete fingerprinting requirements by contacting Kara Shangraw as in Step 3 above
  6. Attach certification of completion of firearms training, if requesting armed status

Mail the above to Vermont Secretary of State, Office or Professional Regulation, 89 Main Street, 3rd Floor, Montpelier, VT 05620-3402.

Step 5. Now That You’re a Private Investigator in Vermont

Kudos to you! You are now a private investigator who can legally work in Vermont! Registered private investigators may work for a licensed private investigation agency, while licensed private investigators may work for themselves or as a qualifying agent for a licensed agency.

If you are a registered P.I., you must renew your registration every two years via the Private Investigative and Security Services Armed/Unarmed Registrant Renewal Application. Armed P.I.s must include a check payable to the Vermont Secretary of State for $130, while unarmed P.I.s owe a renewal fee of $80. If you hold firearms qualification, you must complete at least six hours of requalification training in basic firearms safety, use and legal responsibility, and requalify on the firing range every two years. Include the date of your requalification course and the instructor’s name on your renewal application. Mail it to the Vermont Secretary of State, Attn: Renewal Clerk, Office of Professional Regulation, 89 Main St., 3rd Floor, Montpelier, VT 05620-3420.

Renewals of Licensed Qualifying Agent Private Investigators are also on a two-year basis. Use the Private Investigative and Security Services Armed/Unarmed Licensee Renewal Application. Enclose $180 for armed renewal (via check payable to Vermont Secretary of State) or $120 for unarmed renewal. If you are requalifying for firearms status, include the date of your requalification course and the instructor’s name on your renewal application. Mail it to the Vermont Secretary of State, Attn: Renewal Clerk, Office of Professional Regulation, 89 Main St., 3rd Floor, Montpelier, VT 05620-3420.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Vermont

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the field of investigative services will increase 20.7% in the U.S. in from 2010 to 2020.  According to Vermont’s Department of Labor, 23 jobs for private investigators were listed in the state between July 2011 and June 2012. 

Information on the salaries of private investigators in Vermont in September 2013 are available from Indeed.com and are listed below:

  • Private investigator:  $37,000
  • Private detective:  $25,000

The salaries of private investigators vary widely, depending on what type of industry they work in.  Nationally, the most lucrative industry to perform investigations for is management, scientific, and technical consulting services.  The wages for PIs in this industry were 48% higher than the average annual wage in 2012, according to the BLS.

High tech manufacturing is another type of industry that is lucrative for private investigators, particularly those of electromedical, aerospace, navigational, and control instruments.

A license from the Board of Private Investigative & Security Services is required to become a private investigator in Vermont.  Applicants will have to pass an exam before they can apply for their license.

Individuals who have been police officers for two years are exempt the rule of having to provide documentation of 2000 hours of experience as a private investigator in the three years preceding their application.  The Board performs criminal background checks on all applicants.

Once an applicant has received his or her license, there are a number of different types of work available.  Some of the specialties of private investigators include:

  • Computer based investigations
  • Criminal defense
  • Due diligence
  • Fraud
  • Missing persons
  • Process service
  • Records checks
    • Criminal
    • Motor vehicle
  • Skip tracing
  • Surveillance

 


 

Virginia

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services oversees the private investigator verification and application process.

In the state of Virginia, a private investigator is defined as any of the following:

  • A person who performs the duties of a private investigator or advertises themselves as such
  • A person who investigates or agrees to investigate, on a contractual or employment basis, crimes or civil transgressions or the location of stolen property
  • A person who investigates the cause of accidents, fires, or other incidents (Materials collected during the course of a private investigation can be used as evidence in a hearing before a court, board, or any other kind of investigative or judicial committee.)
  • A person who provides personal protection services to another person or group, including protection from bodily harm and death

Step 1. Learn the Basic Virginia Private Investigator License Eligibility Requirements

In order to become a private investigator in the state of Virginia, you must meet the following basic requirements:

  • You must be 18 years of age or older.
  • You must achieve successful completion of all precursory training requirements for applicable registration categories.
  • Be a citizen or legal resident of the United States.

Step 2. Get Fingerprinted and Complete the Initial Training Requirements

The initial training requirements to become a private investigator in the state of Virginia include 60 hours of entry level training which involves the following topics:

Orientation – The orientation section includes information on applicable Virginia codes, ethics and signs of terrorism.

Law – The law section includes the topics of basic law, criminal and civil law, evidence and privacy.

General investigative skills – The General investigative skills section includes the topics of surveillance, research, interviewing, and more.

Documentation – The documentation section includes the topics of photography, audio recording, courtroom testimony and general communications.

Types of investigations – The types of investigations sections includes the topics of accident, insurance, background, as well as fraud and financial.

Note: The topics of law, general investigative skills, documentation, and types of investigations all include a practical exercise, which does not count toward the required 60 hours.

Applicants must submit an initial registration application form along with the nonrefundable application fee and a completed fingerprint card.

The fingerprint processing application also must be submitted along with the applicable processing fee.

Exam – The Virginia licensing exam must be taken and successfully passed before you can become licensed.  Your training course will provide you with instructions on how to enroll for the exam when you are nearing completion.

Optional Education – Though Virginia does not have education requirements to practice private investigations, many prospective private investigators choose to complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a concentration in investigations or a related major as a way to gain a foundation of knowledge in the field of investigations, and to better prepare for success on the license examination.

Step 3. Firearms Endorsement (optional)

The firearms endorsement requirements must be completed for those applicants who plan to carry or have access to a firearm for the purposes of their private investigation duties.

The Firearms Endorsement page of the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services has more information including the various types of firearms that are permissible and the requirements for each.

Step 4. Insurance, Bonding, and Additional Required Forms

Virginia requires all private investigator firms to carry a surety bond in the minimum of amount of $100,000. This requirement only applies to those wishing to establish a company, not to individual private investigators. $300,000 in liability insurance is also required of private investigator firms.

Applicants who are already registered with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services but who want to include additional categories on their registration are required to complete an Additional Registration Category mandate. Information for additional categories can be found on the Additional Registration Category page.

Applicants who have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor with the exception of minor traffic violations (i.e. speeding, parking tickets, etc.) in the state of Virginia are required to fill out and submit a Criminal History Supplemental Form which can be found on the Criminal History page. This requirement also applies to those who have been the subject of military court martial.

Step 5. Continuing Education

Your private investigator’s license will be valid for 24 months from the date of issue.  In order to renew the license you must be able to prove that you have completed at least 8 hours of state sanctioned continuing education (CE). Here is a list that the state has furnished of CE courses.

Also, you may wish to join the Private Investigators Association of Virginia to keep up with industry news and continuing education opportunities.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Virginia

Virginia is a good state in which to be a private investigator or private detective for two reasons.

  1. It has the fourth highest level of salaries of any state in the county, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  2. The field is growing rapidly in Virginia.  The state projects job growth from 2010 to 2020 to be over 30% – much higher than the national average.

The 620 private investigators employed in 2012 in Virginia made an average annual salary of $62,800.  Experience private investigators earned an average of $100,530 a year.  Salary information from the BLS on selected cities in Virginia is listed below:

Virginia City
Average Annual Salary
Richmond
$52360
Virginia Beach
$40070

Job growth is projected to be particularly high in the following regions of Virginia:

  • Northern Virginia and Alexandria/Arlington:  40.1%
  • Shenandoah Valley:  35.2%

Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services requires a license to become a private investigator in the state.  Applicants must be a minimum of 18 years old.  They are also required to complete sixty hours of entry-level private investigator training.

Individuals who wish to be armed when they work as a private investigator in Virginia are required to meet the standards for firearms endorsement and must document that they have had training in using firearms.

A private investigator’s license is good for two years, while a license to carry a firearm must be renewed annually.

A variety of industries employ PIs.  The most common source of jobs is private investigation firms (detective agencies).  Retail stores hire a number of PIs to help with loss prevention.  State and local government agencies are another common source of jobs.

Information from the BLS is provided below for private investigators who worked in Virginia in 2012.

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Richmond VA
90
52360
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News VA-NC
80
40070
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division
1080
49500

 


 

Washington

You must have a private investigator license if you work for a PI agency in Washington providing investigative services, escort or bodyguard services, or if you offer property loss prevention services.

PI licenses are issued to qualified candidates through the Washington State Department of Licensing.

To become licensed as a private investigator in the state of Washington you must meet basic license eligibility requirements and secure a position with a Washington State licensed PI agency.

Once you are affiliated with a state-licensed agency, you can apply for your own license, which will involve paying an application fee and submitting a fingerprint card to be used in a background check, and which will remain on record with the state.

Step 1. Meet Washington State Basic Eligibility Requirements

In order to become a private detective in the state of Washington, you must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Be over 18 years old (21 if carrying a concealed weapon)
  • Be a United States citizen or resident alien
  • Have employment with, or an employment offer from, a properly licensed private investigator firm
  • Be free of any criminal convictions that directly relate to the duties you will perform as a private investigator

Washington State offers four different kinds of private investigator licenses:

Licenses in any of these four categories requires 4 hours of preassignment training in EACH of these areas:

  • Legal Powers and Limitations
  • Evidence
  • Report Writing
  • Courtroom Testimony
  • Confidentiality/Privilege
  • Court Systems (Federal, State, County and Municipal)
  • Common Sources of Public Information
  • Activities that Violate Criminal Statutes
  • Permissible Purposes of Reports

Step 2. Apply Directly to a Private investigator Firm in Washington

The state of Washington is different from many states in that it does not require you to obtain a private investigator’s license in order to apply for employment. In fact, to obtain licensure in Washington you must have either already obtained employment, or at least have obtained an offer for employment. This means you do not have to obtain your license in order to begin looking for employment.

An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, law or related fields are very well suited to preparing private investigators for prereassignment training, examination, and ultimately, the job itself.

You must decide if you would like to carry a firearm in the line of duty, which will require a Washington state firearms certificate from the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. If you decide to apply for a firearm permit, and you are going to work with an agency, you can submit your firearm application through the agency itself.

If you are going to work for yourself, or become an employer, you must submit the application yourself, and pay the fee as shown below.

Step 3. Complete the Washington Licensing Application and Pay the Application Fee

The application for Washington state private investigator licensure can be found here.  The fees can be paid in the form of either a check or money order and are as follows:

  • $600 for an agency application in which the principal will be unarmed
  • $700 for an agency application in which the principal will be armed
  • $200 for unarmed private investigator
  • $300 ($200 + $100) for armed private investigator. This fee represents the unarmed investigator fee of $200 plus an extra $100
  • $25 for the certified trainer exam

It is always best to use a fingerprint card that is produced or endorsed by the state. This will help to avoid any delays in the case the fingerprint card you select is not supported by the state. Also, it is highly recommended that you go to a sheriff’s office, or police office, in order to have your fingerprints professionally recorded.

Step 4. Complete the Washington State Exam

Washington does not require a formal education to obtain your PI license, though, many prospective Private Investigators choose to obtain an associate degree in criminal justice or related fields in order to help bolster their knowledge and competency and to help better prepare them for the state exam.

The Washington state private investigators exam is broken down as follows:

  • (45%) How Washington law applies to private investigators – Includes questions on privacy, campaign finance, the Washington criminal code, and more
  • (30%) Federal laws – Includes questions on the Federal Privacy Act, Freedom of Information Act, Federal Wiretapping Act, and more
  • (7.5%) Court systems – Includes questions on the Judiciary itself, as well as Judiciary procedures, and more
  • (10%) Legal procedures and definitions – Includes questions on the Washington State criminal code, civil procedures, evidence, and more
  • (7.5%) Other resources of public information – Includes questions on Code reviser’s office, worldwide locator, computer databases, Federal and state laws which can be found on the internet, and more

Washington has provided the following resources to help you:

The International Association of Security and Investigative Regulators (IASIR) provides information about state and local licensure and requirements

The Council on Licensure, Enforcement, and Regulation (CLEAR) is an international organization of professional and
occupational professionals dedicated to helping with issues of licensing and regulation.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Washington

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 310 private investigators were employed in Washington state in 2012.  They had an annual median salary of $67,900 with those in the top 10th percentile earning $100,530 a year.

Salaries from the BLS for selected cities are listed below:

Washington City
Average Annual Salary
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro
$35050
Seattle
$67180

Seattle has a high concentration of private investigators with slightly more than half of the PIs in the state being based out of that area.

Employment prospects for PIs are good in Washington state.  The field of private investigation is projected to grow 1.2% a year from the second quarter of 2012 to that of 2014 according to Washington’s Employment Security Division (ESD).

The ESD provides a breakdown of projected annual growth rates for that period in different workforce development areas of the state:

  • Northwest:  3.9%
  • Seattle-King County:  1.0%
  • South central:  1.7%
  • Spokane:  1.4%

Washington state requires a license from it’s Department of Licensing to become a private investigator or private detective in the state.  Applicants must be at least 18 years old.  They must have a job offer or already be employed by a licensed private investigator company in order to be able to apply for this license.  An examination is also required to be able to become a PI in Washington state.

The requirements to get a license to be an armed PI in the state are more stringent.  Applicants must be at least 21 years old and have a current firearms certificate from the state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission.

Salary information from the BLS is available for private investigators who worked in Washington state in 2012.  A detailed breakdown of hourly and annual wage percentiles for selected cities is provided in the table below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Washington

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro OR-WA
160
39990
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett WA Metropolitan Division
160
67030
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue WA
160
66790

 


 

West Virginia

In West Virginia, the West Virginia Licensing Division handles the licensing and regulation of private investigators operating in the state. In order to become a private investigator in West Virginia, you must meet the requirements of basic eligibility, obtain and provide character references, decide if you will become an employer or not, get fingerprinted and photographed, provide verification of experience, and obtain a surety bond and pay a fee. It should be noted that a two or four-year degree in a law enforcement or criminal justice related field will significantly increase your odds of being approved for licensure as a private investigator in West Virginia.

Step 1. Meet the West Virginia Basic Eligibility Requirements

To successfully apply to become a private investigator in the state of West Virginia you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • You must be over the age of 18
  • You must be a U.S. citizen, or legally residing in the U.S.
  • You must be of good moral character
  • You must be free of convictions including drug and alcohol related crimes, crimes involving fire arms, or crimes involving stolen property or moral turpitude
  • You must have never operated as a private investigator without proper licensing
  • You must meet all the extended requirements that you can find here.

Step 2. Get the Necessary Education and Experience in West Virginia

Experience Only – West Virginia requires that you have valid experience in the field of private investigations equal to a minimum of 32 hours per week for 100 week. Your application must be accompanies with a signed letter from a principal of a private investigation related business. Which shows you worked in the field for at least 32 hours per week for 100 weeks. The letter must detail the work you performed, and your competency in that field.

OR

Education and Experience Option – Experience requirements can be offset by college credits. Education and/or experience requirements can be met this way:

Graduate from a two or four year program with a major in the criminal justice field. Acceptable fields would include criminal justice, law enforcement, or criminal enforcement This must include at least 60 credit hours of investigative studies.

The formula for finding how much of the experience requirement is met by your education is found by taking the total number of applicable credits (specific to investigations) and dividing it by 60. You can then find the number of weeks of experience still required (at a minimum of 32 hours per week) by multiplying the result of this formula by 100. The resulting figure is the number of weeks of experience still required.

Step 3. Prepare Your West Virginia Application

Gather References – The state of West Virginia requires five character references in order for you to be licensed as a private investigator. This may be a time consuming part of the application process, so it is advisable that you get this part of the process started as soon as possible. They recommend that you give five different references a copy of the character reference form, which is included in the application package. The references cannot be related to you by blood or marriage. It is very important that the character reference letters not be returned to the state, but that the references return the letters to you directly, and that you then include those letters in the application package.

Individual or Firm License – If you plan to operate a private investigator’s firm that employs others, you must get a private investigator’s firm license in West Virginia. You do not need a firm license if you plan to operate on your own or if you plant to become an employee or affiliate of another company. You can find out more about the West Virginia private investigator firm licensing process here.

In order to obtain your West Virginia private investigator firm license you must have a surety bond issued with you, the applicant, as principal. This is only applicable is you’ll be starting your own firm.

The bond issuing company must be authorized to work in the state of West Virginia. Present this form to the representative at the surety bonding company. The application must include your signature as principal. Your signature and the agent’s signature must be notarized. Also, the completed power of attorney must be attached.

Get Fingerprinted and Photographed – To obtain your private investigator’s license in West Virginia you’ll need to get fingerprinted.  You can either download the application form here, or call (304) 558-8000 in order to obtain the form.  West Virginia will only accept an official West Virginia fingerprint card, and will not accept substitutes. It is strongly suggested that you go to a local sheriff’s office for fingerprinting, in order to make sure that the fingerprints are clear. Complete the card in its entirety, including the back of the card, and sign it.

Also, the state requires two passport sized color photographs be attached to the application. The photos should have been taken within the past year. They recommend a light blue background if possible.

Step 4. Submit Your West Virginia Application and Pay Fees

The processing fee to apply for the license is $50, which is non-refundable. Additional fees are $150 for West Virginia residents and $550 for non-West Virginia residents for the actual licensing once your application is approved.

Once the application is approved you must register a business in West Virginia as either a sole proprietor or corporation if you’ll be establishing your own agency.

In order to keep up with laws and education, it would be wise to join an industry association. The Private Investigator and Security Professionals of West Virginia is a good place to start.


Private Investigator Salary Information for West Virginia

The wages for private investigators in West Virginia have been steadily rising over the past ten years according to WORKFORCE West Virginia.  The median wage for PIs in the state in 2011 was over 25% higher than that during 2001. 

Salaries for private investigators in West Virginia in 2012 are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and are listed below:

West Virginia City
Average Annual Salary
West Virginia-statewide
$31630
Parkersburg
$27330

According to WORKFORCE West Virginia, the salaries for PIs in the state vary greatly depending on what industry they are employed in.  Sixteen establishments were reported as having employed private investigators in 2012.  The best paying industries for PIs in West Virginia are listed below along with their hourly median wage for 2012:

  • Financial activities:  $24.86
  • Professional and business services:  $14.02
  • Trade, transportation, and utilities:  $10.86
  • Public administration:  $8.39

The state of West Virginia requires a license from its Secretary of State to become a private investigator or private detective.  A business license is also required.  Applicants cannot apply for a license until they have character references filled out from five people.  They must also obtain a $2,500 surety bond as liability insurance.

There is a substantial requirement for training and/or experience to become a private investigator in West Virginia.  The state requires documentation for one of the following:

  • An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field
  • At least 60 hours of college credit in investigative studies
  • Employment by a PI firm:  at least 32 hours a week for 100 weeks
  • A combination of experience and college credit

The BLS provides a detailed breakdown of salary information by city for private investigators who were employed in West Virginia in 2012 as shown in the following table.

Private Investigator Salaries in West Virginia

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna WV-OH
Estimate not released
27530
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division
1080
49500

 


 

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Regulation & Licensing oversees the private detective verification and application process. In the state of Wisconsin, a private detective is defined as any of the following:

  • A person who performs the duties of a private detective or advertises themselves as such
  • A person who investigates a person, group, or organization, on behalf of another person, group, or organization, for monetary compensation or other forms of consideration
  • A person who provides personal protection services to another person or group, including protection from bodily harm and death.

Step 1. Learn the Basic Wisconsin Private Detective License Eligibility Requirements

In order to become a private detective in the state of Wisconsin, you must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have a high school diploma
  • Have a criminal record free of any felony convictions (or have any convictions pardoned by the governor or reduced to a misdemeanor)
  • Be employed by a licensed detective or investigation agency in Wisconsin

Step 2. Get Fingerprinted and Additional Documentation

All new private detective applicants in the state of Wisconsin are required to be electronically fingerprinted. After being fingerprinted you must submit a completed application within 14 days. Fingerprinting can be done by scheduling an appointment with L-1 Identity Solutions (866-416-4896). There is also additional documentation that is required but may be different for every applicant.

In addition to your completed application and fingerprint documentation, you will be required to submit a release for Federal Bureau of Investigation information, a color photograph of your face, and a conviction/pending charges form.

*Note: Unless you are covered by the liability insurance of the employing agency, you must obtain a $2,000 bond. You are responsible for obtaining your own insurance bond, the state does not sell bonds for licensing purposes. If you are looking to become an independent investigator, you must apply for a private detective agency license as well. The investigator application can be obtained in person from the Wisconsin DRL or can be downloaded from the department’s website. If you are working independently you must also fill out the “Employer” section of the application. If you owe any back taxes or child support or alimony payments, the application will automatically be rejected.

Step 3. Take and Pass the Wisconsin State Licensing Exam

The most difficult part of the application process for most applicants is the state licensing exam. Once the application, fingerprints, and additional documentation have all been submitted, the Wisconsin DRL will process all of the paperwork and documentation and email instructions to you for taking the licensing exam.

The exam itself is somewhat extensive and covers the information included in the Private Detective Code Book which can be downloaded or obtained by calling 608-264-9419.

It is also strongly recommended that you conduct an interview with a licensed Wisconsin private detective and request a recommendation of other pertinent materials to study for the exam. A list of licensed Wisconsin detectives can be found at the Professional Association of Wisconsin Licensed Detectives (PAWLI) website.

Step 4. Decide on Carrying a Firearm and Meet Wisconsin Requirements

Regarding firearms, the application process is the same whether you plan to carry a weapon or not. However, the state of Wisconsin does have specific administrative rules and codes regarding the carrying of a firearm by licensed private detectives while on the job.

The general conditions relating to carrying a firearm, the training requirements for carrying a firearm, and various agency firearms policies and laws can all be found on the Wisconsin Legislative Documents page of the State of Wisconsin website (docs.legis.wisconsin.gov).

Step 5. Complete PAWLI and Additional Recommendations to Become More Marketable

Wisconsin does not require prior experience in order to become a private detective but training is helpful for the applicant in performing his or her job. There are a number of tech schools in Wisconsin that offer Professional Detective training programs and it is also advised that you conduct interviews and spend time with licensed and experienced detectives in order to become familiar with the day-to-day of P.I. work.

It is also advised that the detectives you contact be members of PAWLI. These men and women have years of hands-on experience in all facets of private investigation and are more often than not very willing to share that experience and give advice to new and prospective detectives.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Wisconsin

The employment for private investigators in Wisconsin is expected to grow 9.5% in the period from 2004 to 2014, according to the state’s Department of Workforce Development.  These jobs are projected to be due to people leaving the workforce rather than to the creation of new private investigation jobs.

Salaries for private investigators in the state in 2012 are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

They are listed below for selected areas:

Wisconsin City
Average Annual Salary
Wisconsin-statewide
$40210
Milwaukee area
$32540

The state of Wisconsin requires a license from the state’s License, Permit and Registration Services to become a private detective or private investigator in Wisconsin.  Before individuals can apply for this license, they need to submit their fingerprints for a criminal background check.

After they have applied for their license, applicants must pass an online exam of 100 questions on investigative practices in general and the relevant Wisconsin statutes and code.

Once aspiring private investigators have received their license, they are qualified for a number of different types of jobs.  A number of PIs specialize in surveillance.  This skill is useful in helping retail establishments prevent shoplifting.  Others use surveillance for individuals who are concerned about cheating spouses.  Insurance companies hire professionals to verify that individuals receiving worker’s compensation are truly injured.

Many private investigators work for government agencies and perform background checks on prospective employees for law enforcement or other positions of authority.

Fewer investigators work for high tech companies such as aerospace manufacturers.  This can be a highly lucrative area as these companies struggle to protect their trade secrets.

The BLS provides salary information for private investigators who worked in Wisconsin in 2012.  A detailed breakdown of hourly and annual salaries by percentile is listed below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Wisconsin

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Lake County-Kenosha County IL-WI Metropolitan Division
Estimate not released
53350
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis WI
70
32540
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI
110
49130

 


 

Wyoming

In the state of Wyoming private investigators are subject to the same jurisdictional laws to which other law enforcement personnel are subject. As such, you should have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the laws and regulations that will be affecting you in performing your job. Private investigators can work in any number of areas of investigation but many specialize in a specific area such as pet detection, workers compensation claims, or personal injury defense. You should be prepared to work in any area of investigation but should have in mind a particular area in which to specialize based on your background or interests.

Although there is no state licensing requirement for private investigators in Wyoming, It should be noted that a license issued by the City of Cheyenne is needed to operate as a private detective within Cheyenne city limits.

Step 1. Complete Education and Training Requirements in Wyoming

Private investigating is an extremely rewarding but also extremely challenging profession. Since it is also a very competitive profession, in order to be awarded the highest paying cases you must build a reputation as being the best at what you do and diligently promote yourself.

The best way to excel in private investigations is to establish a solid foundation of knowledge upon which to build your career. Many people who get into this particular line of work are ex-military or former law enforcement officers and as such already have a significant advantage. It is highly recommended that applicants who do not have experience in law enforcement obtain as much formal education as possible before starting out.

There are a number of criminal justice and legal studies programs offered at universities and community colleges in Wyoming as well as online. Check community colleges in your area, as well as online colleges and universities, to see if they offer any courses that would be beneficial to your career as a private investigator.

It is strongly recommended that you take on an apprenticeship role with an experienced, and preferably licensed, private investigator or investigation agency in Wyoming before applying for a license.

Step 2. Fill Out the Applicable Forms (for Cheyenne applicants)

You can find the applicable application form online.

You will also need to make an appointment to have your fingerprints taken. In Cheyenne, the hours for fingerprinting are on Tuesday from 8:30AM until Noon and 1:00PM until 5:00PM and on Thursday from 8:30AM until Noon. When getting your fingerprints taken you must have your completed application form, a valid photo I.D., the $15.00 city fee for fingerprints and ID cards, and the $15.00 state fee. Payments for the latter are only accepted in cash. Call 307-637-6535 or 307-637-6508 to make an appointment.

Step 3. Apply for Jobs in Wyoming with Investigation Agencies or Start Your Own Agency

Search for investigation agency jobs in your area. Some of the top agencies in Wyoming include:

  • Associated Investigation LTD – Laramie
  • SJ Miller Associates LLC – Statewide
  • Day and Night Process Serving LLP – Cheyenne
  • Black Hills Security – Gillette

If you live in a bigger city the jobs may be easier to find than if you live in a rural community. If you believe, however, that there is a demand for private investigative services in a smaller town, or if you would like to compete with established agencies in Wyoming’s major cities, then you may consider starting your own agency.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Wyoming

According to the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (WDWS), the employment of private investigators in the state is expected to grow by 20.4% from 2012 to 2022. 

While employment in the Cheyenne metropolitan statistical area is projected to drop, job growth is expected to increase by the following amounts in other parts of Wyoming:

  • Northwest region:  21.3%
  • Southwest region:  10.4%

Based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of private investigators in Wyoming in 2012 was $55,300 annually.  Experienced professionals in the top 10th percentile of their field earned $82,500 a year.

Wyoming is one of the few states that does not require a license to start work as a private investigator or private detective.

Many different types of industries employ these professionals.  The WDWS projected the growth in the job rate of PIs in different industries in the period from 2012 to 2022.  The industries listed below are expected to provide an increasing number of jobs for private investigators:

  • Public administration:  21.8%
  • Administrative and support and waste management and remediation:  15.7%

In contrast, the number of jobs in the retail trade industry is expected to shrink by 7.8% over that time period.

A substantial number of private investigators are self-employed.  They can work for a variety of clients.  Individuals frequently hire PIs to find missing relatives or friends or to spy on a spouse they suspect of infidelity.  They also hire private investigators to verify that investment firms or brokers are ethical and not likely to abscond with their money.

Attorneys are another source of potential clients.  Defense attorneys frequently hire private investigators to find information that might help to exonerate a client.

Other private investigators work for high-tech firms such as medical device or aerospace manufacturers.