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

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.

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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
Annual mean wage
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro OR-WA
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett WA Metropolitan Division
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue WA

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