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Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Indiana

Private detectives or investigators in the Hoosier State work in a broad range of fields, doing everything from investigating public and private corruption to locating missing persons for loved ones or bounty hunters. Going to work for a private investigator agency in Indiana is relatively easy and does not require a license. However starting your own private investigator business, even if you are the only person working there, does require a license. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of how to become a private investigator in Indiana:

Meet the Basic Qualifications in Indiana
Consider the Option to Work for a Private Investigator in Indiana
Apply for Licensure with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency
Working in Indiana



Step 1. Meeting Basic Qualifications in Indiana

To obtain a license for private investigator jobs in Indiana you will need to meet the following conditions:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have at least two years (4,000 hours) of work experience in the investigations or security field; or meet the approved education equivalent
  • Possess professional liability insurance of at least $100,000 that lists the State of Indiana as an additional insured
  • Have no convictions for felonies or crimes that would have a direct bearing on your ability to act as a PI
  • Not currently be on probation or parole

Private Investigator School Requirements in Indiana

In place of the requirement for two years of work experience in the investigations or security field, you may substitute the approved education equivalent of a four-year degree in criminal justice.

In general, having a foundation in a relevant area of education demonstrates that you are a serious and capable candidate to prospective employers and provides you with vital skills that will prepare you for success as well as future career advancement and flexibility. In addition to criminal justice, certificates and degrees in the following can be useful in the private detective field:

  • Business
  • Law
  • Psychology
  • Law Enforcement
  • Public Administration



Step 2. Working for a PI Agency to Gain the Necessary Experience in Indiana

Because of the two-year experience requirement to become licensed, most private detectives start out by working for a licensed private investigator. When you work under a licensed PI, he or she is responsible for your professional conduct and must request the following from you:

  • Current photograph upon hire
  • Full set of fingerprints

Because the licensed private detective is responsible for you, he or she may also require:

  • Criminal background check
  • Your employment history
  • Character references
  • Drug testing



Step 3. Licensure with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency

Because the State of Indiana only provides PI licenses to business entities and not individuals, even if you decide to work alone, becoming licensed for private detective jobs means applying with a Firm Application. Along with this you will need to submit the following to the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency’s Private Investigator and Security Guard Licensing Board based out of Indianapolis:

  • Verification of two years of acceptable work experience
  • Criminal background history and fingerprint check
  • Proof of liability insurance for at least $100,000
  • $300 application fee



Step 4. Working in Indiana

As you develop in your career field and gain experience you may find it beneficial to join a professional organization of colleagues such as the Indiana Society of Professional Investigators (INSPI) or the Indiana Association of Professional Investigators (IAPI). With these agencies you can find additional suggestions on how to become a licensed private detective, opportunities for private detective training and certification classes, as well as further networking and business tips. 

It is also advisable to keep up on any changing laws or requirements in the PI field. Finally, you should always be familiar with the current laws and codes. You will always be held accountable to these whether you are in one of the larger cities like Fort Wayne, Evansville, or South Bend or in one of the most sparsely populated counties.



Private Investigator Salary Information for Indiana

Nearly three hundred private investigators were employed in Indiana in 2012 based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Their ranks are projected to grow by 18.6% through 2016 according to the state of Indiana’s projections for high-salary, high-demand occupations.

The annual median income and the average salary earned by those investigators in the top tenth percentile are shown below for the state as a whole and for the 31% of the state’s PIs that work in Indianapolis:

Indiana City
Average Annual Salary

Individual employees of a private investigation firm do not need a license, but Indiana has stringent requirements for those in charge of detective agencies.  Applicants to the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency must have criminal background checks completed by each county, city, and state that they have lived in within the past seven years.  It is highly important that the background checks be completed at each local jurisdiction.

A fingerprint background check by the Indiana State Police is also required.  In addition, applicants must have proof that they have at least $100,000 of limited liability insurance.  The state of Indiana must be listed as an additional insured.  Four thousand hours of experience as an investigator is also required to obtain a license in Indiana.  A private investigator’s license in this state does not grant the right to carry a firearm.

The jobs of private investigators can be highly varied.  Some PIs specialize in financial investigation.  They may investigate potential investors to ensure they are on the up and up.  Others perform surveillance—ensuring that those claiming workman’s compensation are truly injured or checking on potential infidelity by spouses or other loved ones.

Salary data on additional locations in Indiana is available from the BLS.  The levels of employment, annual, and hourly salary data are shown below for these areas.

Private Investigator Salaries in Indiana

Area name
Annual mean wage
Cincinnati-Middletown OH-KY-IN
Indianapolis-Carmel IN
Louisville-Jefferson County KY-IN
Estimate not released

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