How Private Investigators Charge for Their Services

Private investigators help individuals, companies, and governments investigate different kinds of cases, charging accordingly for the services they provide. Those who work in the field are often well trained, and as such can command generous compensation packages, when properly negotiated.

Among the public, there is very little understanding about how private investigators charge for their services. Here we will take a look at some of the standard ways private investigators invoice clients for the services they provide.

By the Job

A private investigator may charge clients by the job, more or less agreeing to charge a certain rate for a specified amount of work. These kinds of arrangements are less common because investigative work tends to lead to unforeseen expenses, resulting in the investigator’s overall net pay being less under this kind of arrangement. An alternate to the flat rate is that the investigator may agree to charge hourly, but with an overall cap on charges to protect the client.


Most private investigators charge for their services by the hour. Hourly rates vary by the kind of case, and generally range from $20 to $40 for typical cases. But, in high profile investigations, or in cases which will require the work of multiple investigators, this hourly rate could go significantly higher. For example, an investigator who is looking into governmental wrongdoing could potentially charge over $100 per hour.


Private investigators routinely charge customers for the expenses they incur during the course of duty. These expenses include purchases case specific supplies, fuel, and even food, depending on the client and the case.

Overall, private investigator compensation is highly negotiable, and will vary from one company to the next. Due to the highly specialized nature of the profession, good private investigators can charge substantial sums to their clients, and have much of the expenses they incur while conducting the investigations covered as well.