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Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Georgia

Use this guide to learn how to become a private investigator in Georgia in six steps:

Choose your Employment Route and Become Licensed or Registered in Georgia
Meet the Basic Minimum Requirements in Georgia
Meet Georgia Education Qualifications
Obtain Basic Training
Application for Employment in Georgia
Working in Georgia

There are currently 513 private detective companies operating across the Peach State, employing approximately 1,513 detectives. Working in private investigator jobs in Georgia, you will find individuals and companies will seek your services to uncover everything from spousal trysts to corporate espionage. A career in this field is not for everyone, but if you’re the type of person that enjoys conducting meticulous investigations, working odd hours in at-times potentially dangerous situations, and can meld with people from a variety of backgrounds then you may wish to consider the following guide.



Step 1. Choosing your Route of Employment

There are two ways of working as a private investigator in Georgia: working for yourself or working for someone else. Working for yourself is more complicated and requires a license and years of previous experience either in law enforcement or private investigations, or a university degree, plus bigger financial burdens including:

    • $25,000 bond
    • $1 million liability insurance policy
    • Net worth of $50,000 or more

It is easier to start off in the private investigations field by registering to work under an already established company. To do this you simply need to meet the minimum requirements and your employer will register you with the Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies.



Step 2. Meeting the Basic Requirements

All private detectives working in Georgia need to be registered as an employee of a private detective business, be it as a sole proprietor, as the manager of your own company, or with another agency. It is therefore your employer (or yourself if you are the owner of the business) who registers you with the Secretary of State’s Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies.

In order to become registered you will need to meet some basic private investigator minimum requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have integrity and a good moral character
  • Be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident entitled to work in the U.S.
  • No convictions for felonies, crimes involving weapons, or crimes of moral turpitude; however considerations will be made on a case-by-case basis
  • Have not committed any acts of fraud or dishonesty



Step 3. Education Qualifications

Private Investigator School Requirements in Georgia

If you are applying for a license for your own private investigations business you will need to meet some additional requirements that can be fulfilled by having a four-year degree in Criminal Justice or a related field.

The following certificate and degree programs are available across Georgia both online and at campus-based schools:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Criminal Justice
  • Forensics
  • Psychology
  • Business

Establishing a Foundation for the Future

Even if you are just starting out as a private investigator registered with another company you will have more options and a better foundation when coming from a well-developed educational background. Demonstrating that you have acquired key skills in the field can also help your employment prospects, not to mention future career advancements into areas such as law enforcement.



Step 4. Basic Training

To work as a private detective in Georgia you will need to complete a basic training course. You have the option of completing this within six months of being hired, and the course must be from a state-approved provider and include:

  • 70 hours of classroom instruction including:
    • Industry history
    • Criminal law
    • Search and seizure
    • Crime scene investigation
    • Witness and suspect interviewing
    • Surveillance

If you choose to carry a firearm you will additionally have to take the Firearm Training Curriculum for Handguns course. You should also make sure you are familiar with the state laws and statutes regarding private investigator individuals and companies.



Step 5. Application for Employment

You will need to submit the following to your employing private detective agency so they can complete your registration form and you can begin working:

  • Fingerprints and consent for a background investigation. These are administered through Cogent Services GAPS and when completing your online application for $52.75 you will need the following:

    • ORI number: GA920240Z
    • Verification code: 920240Z

  • Proof of your private detective certification classes, if completed (must be completed within 90 days of hire)
  • Any weapons permits and certifications

Your hiring detective company must also pay a $45 registration fee, and an extra $25 fee if you are being registered as an armed detective.



Step 6. Working in Georgia

Private investigators need to complete 16 hours of continuing education through an approved agency each year. The agency with which you are registered can assist you with this and you can also consult with professional associations.

Joining a professional organization such as the Georgia Association of Professional Private Investigators (GAPPI) or the Investigative and Security Professional Association of Georgia (ISPAG) is a good way to find support and advice from colleagues, expand your networking opportunities, and stay up-to-date on the latest developments in your field. Professional organizations can also offer you tips on the process of how to become a private detective in Georgia.



Private Investigator Salary Information for Georgia

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for private investigators in Georgia was $40,580 with experienced PIs in the top ten percent of salary earners making $70,480. 

The median salary for selected cities in the state are listed below, followed by the average salaries of those in the top ten percent:

Georgia City
Average Annual Salary

Georgia is a good area to find employment as a private investigator, since the Atlanta area had the seventh highest level of employment of PIs in the country in 2012.  Seventy-seven percent of the state’s PIs were based in this area.

The employment levels of private investigators in Georgia are expected to increase substantially through 2020.  Statistics from the BLS indicate that there were 570 PIs employed in the state in 2012.  Georgia’s Workforce Statistics & Economic Research estimates that there will be 670 jobs for private investigators in 2020.  This represents an increase of 17.5%

According to the state of Georgia’s Workforce Statistics & Economic Research, the top four employers of private investigators, by percentage of employed PI’s, in 2010 were:

  • Management of companies and enterprises:  16.8%
  • Insurance carriers:  16.6%
  • Investigation and security services:  12.9%
  • Business Support Services:  11.8%

These industries accounted for over half of the employment of private investigators in Georgia.

The steps involved in becoming a private investigator in Georgia vary depending on whether applicants wish to be hired by a private detective company or whether they wish to start their own company.

Employees of detective agencies do not need to be licensed in Georgia.  Company owners, on the other hand, are required to obtain a license from the Georgia Board of Private Detectives and Security Agencies.  A substantial amount of experience, along with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field, is required to apply for this license.

Detailed information on salaries and employment levels of private investigators in selected cities in Georgia are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The data for the two areas that employ 84% of Georgia’s PIs are listed below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Georgia

Area name
Annual mean wage
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta GA
Augusta-Richmond County GA-SC

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