Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Hawaii

Statue of Hawaii King Kamehameha in front of Judiciary Building, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Anybody with a real interest in private investigations and the background it takes to get into the field knows that this line of work is nothing like the TV shows make it out to be. Most cases don’t get wrapped up in an hour between the opening theme song and closing credits, and turning heads is no way to make it in the business.

Meet the Basic Qualifications in Hawaii
Education and Experience Requirements in Hawaii
Choosing to Work as a Private Investigator or as a Sole-proprietor in Hawaii
Working in Hawaii

This is a field where it’s important to not look the part, and the ability to blend in is a lot more valuable than being a ringer for Tom Selleck, even without the white slacks and stache. If you’re getting into this line of work over some kind of 80’s nostalgia for Magnum P.I., you better keep your day job. Even if you could afford the cherry-red Ferrari, good luck trying to stake out a target while driving one.

But that doesn’t mean a career in investigations doesn’t come with its share of excitement. With the right combination of skills and credentials, you could build a successful business in Hawaii, whether you’re catching cheating spouses in the act, blowing the lid off cases of workers’ compensation fraud, or helping distraught families locate missing loved ones. Coming down to your most pondered questions, how to become a private investigator in Hawaii? Well, for starters, this is a field that has the potential to be dangerous one minute and tedious the next, so you need to be able to handle all aspects of the job to make it as a PI.

Hawaii is a small market with a lot of opportunities. With the right qualifications and a reputation for getting the job done, you’ll be on speed dial with every attorney’s office, insurance company, and law enforcement agency in town.

The Board of Private Detectives and Guards regulates the practice of private investigations in Hawaii, requiring candidates to meet qualifications to be registered and legally allowed to work in the state.



Step 1. Meeting the Basic Qualifications in Hawaii

To be registered or licensed for private investigator jobs in Hawaii, all applicants need to meet the following minimum qualifications:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have no psychological or psychiatric disorders which would negatively and directly affect your ability to conduct the duties of a private investigator
  • Have no convictions for crimes that would reflect negatively on you while acting as a private investigator
  • Have a personal and financial history of being honest, truthful, and fair



Step 2. Education and Experience Requirements in Hawaii

Private investigator school requirements in Hawaii mandate the completion of high school or its equivalent. You must also have four years of full-time work in any of the following positions to start your own practice:

  • Police officer
  • Government-employed investigator at any level (federal, state, county, or city)
  • Attorney or law-firm investigator
  • A private investigator working under the supervision of a private detective

If you have equivalent military certification classes or training experience, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs may consider this as fulfilling relevant private detective training and certification requirements.

Competitive Education

Regardless of whether you are going into business for yourself or another agency, having a solid educational background in relevant subject areas can increase your effectiveness as a private investigator and your future career prospects.

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There are several campus locations and online schools across Hawaii offering certificate and degree programs in areas of study relevant to private investigators, including:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Law
  • Criminal Psychology
  • Law Enforcement



Step 3. Choosing to Work Under a Private Investigator or for Yourself in Hawaii

If you cannot meet the four-year experience requirement to start your own practice, you can still work under the supervision of a private investigator. You will need to complete a $64 fingerprint and background check with Fieldprint, Inc for your hiring agency, who will, in turn, need to complete the following:

  • Make sure you meet the minimum requirements from step one
  • Register you with the Board of Private Detectives and Guards twice each year by July 31st and January 31st

You should also make yourself familiar with the laws applying to your field: Hawaii Revised Statutes chapters 463, 463b, 703, and 396, and the Hawaii Administrative Rules Title 16 chapter 97.

If you go into business for yourself you will need to pass a $50 private investigator exam that covers these state laws and statutes, for which the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) also provides additional study material references. You can check with the DCCA for the exam schedule, and you will register for the exam as part of your application for a license as a private investigator in Hawaii.



Step 4. Working in Hawaii

If you are an employee of a private investigator your only requirement to continue working will be to maintain a clean criminal record and not become involved in any immoral or questionable activities.

If you are working as a sole-proprietor or in charge of your own agency you will need to meet certain other private investigator training requirements and renew your license every two years. The following fees will apply:

Whatever path to employment you choose, it is important to regularly check with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Professional and Vocational Licensing Branch for any updates in the private investigations field. The branch also offers tips on how to become a private detective in Hawaii. You may also consider checking with the Hawaii Legislature for any changes or updates in PI law.

To become a private investigator in Hawaii, a license from the Board of Private Detectives and Guards is required. This Board is part of the Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs for the state of Hawaii.

  • There are strict requirements to obtain a license in Hawaii.  Four years of full-time work as an investigator is required, along with a high school diploma or GED.  Applicants must submit their fingerprints to the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center and undergo a criminal background check. In addition, they must pass a written exam with a score of at least 75%.The number of licenses that had been issued as of 2012 was greater than the number of people working as private investigators in Hawaii. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 91 licenses were active at that time.Private detectives in Hawaii seek out a variety of different types of information, including:
    • The whereabouts of missing persons
    • Crimes and thefts
    • Obtaining confidential information

    They may work for the public, businesses, or attorneys.  Common types of investigations include:

    • Ascertaining whether individuals claiming workmen’s compensation are truly injured
    • Determining whether a loved one or spouse is committing infidelity
    • Finding the heirs to inheritances
    • Determining whether a potential investor is trustworthy


Private Investigator Salary Information for Hawaii*

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private investigators in Hawaii earned a median salary of $59,696 as reported in May 2020, which is nearly $6000 more than the national average of $53,331.

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According to BLS statistics, Urban Honolulu, a popular metropolitical state’s median salary as reported in May 2020 was around $61,692 more than the average median of the national salary.

*May 2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics Salary and Job Market Figures for Private Detectives and Investigators reflect state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed September 2021.

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