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Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Arkansas

The steps for becoming a licensed private investigator (PI) in Arkansas are as follows:

Meet Requirements for Applying for a PI License in Arkansas
Work Alongside an Arkansas Licensed PI for Two Years
Be Prepared to Take the PI Examination in Arkansas
Take and Pass the Arkansas State Board Examination
Submit Application in Arkansas
Go to Work in Arkansas as a PI

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
Annual mean wage
Memphis TN-MS-AR

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