Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Idaho

You won’t need a state license to practice as a private investigator in Idaho, but that doesn’t mean the Gem State is a lawless place where unregulated PIs with questionable ethics use shady practices to make a quick buck. Instead, PIs here are known to interpret the lack of state regulation as a cue for greater personal accountability. These pros are often retired cops and soldiers who already come to the table with a strong sense of accountability and an unwavering moral compass.

Make the Necessary Educational and Training Preparations in Idaho
Obtain a Business License and other Requirements in Idaho
Grow your Profession in Idaho

As a result, everyone from civil and criminal attorneys to private corporations to local law enforcement agencies and private clients rely on their expertise to uncover the truth and assemble the facts, whether it’s finding a missing person, uncovering a case of workers’ compensation fraud, or performing a thorough background check.

According to the Idaho Department of Labor, the number of PIs in Idaho is projected to hold steady at just 40 between 2019 and 2021. That’s a very uncrowded market where there’s a lot of opportunities to get in, set up shop and get a successful business going. This bodes well for new blood looking to forge their own path without stepping on too many toes.

Besides maintaining a strict code of ethics, private investigators must also attract business, be aware of relevant state and federal laws, obtain a business license, and keep good records for tax purposes.



Step 1. Educational and Training Preparations in Idaho

Education Preparations

Before opening up shop as a private investigator you should prepare yourself to be as competitive in your field as possible. Having either education or experience will show your potential customers that you have qualifications to back up your job description.

There are a number of degree and certificate programs available in schools across the state though which residents can gain pertinent qualifications for private investigator jobs in Idaho, as well as to better facilitate future career mobility. Relevant degree options include:

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

Training Preparations

There are also a variety of training and certification classes available across the state in areas that develop critical private investigator skills. These include:

  • Firearms and non-lethal weapons courses
  • CPR and first aid
  • Citizen police academies
  • Homeland security classes



Step 2. Obtaining a Business License in Idaho and Other Requirements

Obtaining a business license is a relatively straightforward process that you can complete online. The State of Idaho offers information on government regulations that apply to your business as well as what type of business entity you should establish. There are associated fees that depend on what type of business you create and how many, if any, employees you will have.

Clients and companies who hire you as a private investigator may also be interested in the following:

  • Results of any state and federal background checks
  • References who can attest to your moral character
  • Employment and military history, if any
  • Whether or not you carry a firearm



Step 3. Growing Your Business in Idaho and Keeping your License Current

As you become more established as a successful private detective your reputation and client list will grow. You may choose to hire more employees or raise your compensation rates and choose a particular area of specialization. In either case you will need to stay abreast of the relevant city, county, state, and federal laws regulating the operation of your business.

You will also need to keep up with laws pertaining to private detective training and certification in Idaho, as these can and do change. In 1998 a house bill was introduced that would have mandated private investigator school and training requirements in Idaho, though it was not passed. Periodically checking for any legal updates with the State Legislature is recommended, and you may also consider joining a local professional organization such as the Private Investigators Association of Idaho (PIAI), where you can find networking opportunities, support among colleagues, and tips on how to become a successful private detective in Idaho.

The field of private investigation is a growing field with a 20.7% increase in jobs projected nationally from 2010 through 2020.  In Idaho, the average annual salaries for September 2013 are available from

They are as follows:

  • Private detective:  $21,000
  • Private investigator:  $25,000

Private investigators in Idaho come from a variety of backgrounds.  Many are retired military veterans or law enforcement officials.  Other individuals obtain degrees in criminal justice or police science before they start work as a private investigator.  In the U.S. as a whole, 52% of active private investigators have a bachelor’s degree.

No specific license is required to become a private investigator in Idaho.  As is the case for most professionals, a business license is generally required.


Private Investigator Salary Information for Idaho*

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), private investigators in Idaho earned an annual, median salary of $60,490 as of May 2019 – that’s about $10,000 higher than the national average. The top earners here – likely those with the most experience and the most impressive track record for closing cases – earn an average of $83,140.

Private Investigator Salaries in Coeur d’Alene

BLS stats reveal the median-top 10% salary range for PIs in the Coeur d’Alene metro area is $62,2420-$81,250. This is in line with what many PIs already know – you’ll want to settle in a metro area for the best professional opportunities and pay.


*Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which private investigators work. BLS salary data represents state and MSA (metropolitan statistical area) average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. 

2019 job growth projections from the Idaho Department of Labor are aggregated through the U.S. Department of Labor-Sponsored resource, Projections Central. Employment conditions in your area may vary. 

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