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Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Arizona

The following steps are necessary to procure a private investigator agency license:

Meet Arizona Application Requirements
Meet Arizona Education and Training Prerequisites
Obtain Experience and Apprenticeships in Arizona
Submit Application and get Fingerprinting in Arizona
Now that You’re a Private Investigator in 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
Annual mean wage
Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale AZ

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