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Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in 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.

Whether you plan to open a new PI agency or go to work for an agency that is already licensed in Texas, this guide will explain the exact steps you must take:

Meet the Basic PI Registration Requirements
Fulfill Education and Experience Requirements
Register your New PI Agency or Become Registered with an Existing Agency
Now That you’re a Registered Private Investigator or PI Agency Owner in Texas

 


 

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

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