Today’s private investigators are rehabbing the ages-old image of the rough-around-the-edges, unregulated PI operating a fly-by-night business with little regard for the law. In a lot of cases, PIs are actually the most upstanding people you’d ever want to meet; retired cops and former military service members drawing from their background in uniform to do important work while making a living in the process.
|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
Their qualifications are rock solid, their backgrounds are as clean as a whistle, and their sense of justice and morality are unwavering. It’s no wonder attorneys, corporations, law enforcement agencies, and private citizens turn to them when they need to uncover the truth is priority one.
Andy Starks and Tom Hildebrand, the founders of Omni Investigative Services in Indianapolis, are a couple of PIs that set a high bar for integrity. As former Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department detectives, Starks and Hildebrand came to the profession with top-notch qualifications courtesy of their decades-long careers in law enforcement.
Today, these pros provide litigation support services, handle financial fraud cases, and perform pre-employment background checks. From field surveillance to accident reconstruction to obtaining witness statements, their work has made them top dogs among personal injury attorneys and family law practices.
According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, just 220 private investigators were working in Indiana in 2019. For anybody keeping score, that’s not a lot of competition. That means whether you’re getting into the field to blow the lid off insurance fraud cases or to help distraught families find missing loved ones, chances are you won’t be stepping on a lot of toes in the process.
If you work for a PI agency in Indiana, you won’t need a license to do so. But if you have your sights set on running your own PI business, you’ll need to earn a license through the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. Here’s all that you need to know about how to become a private investigator 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:
- 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 with 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*
According to a May 2020 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), private investigators earned an average, annual salary of $40,490. At that same time, PIs with the most impressive client lists landed themselves in the top 10%, making an average of $63,780.
Individual employees of a private investigation firm do not need a license, but if you want to operate a detective agency, you’ll need to show proof of at least 4,000 hours of experience in investigations, pass a background check, and show proof of at least $100,000 of limited liability insurance.
Private Investigator Salaries in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne
BLS statistics reveal the following salary range (median-top 10%) for PIs working in Indiana’s largest metro areas in 2019:
- Indianapolis: $35,630-$60,420 (approximately 280 licensed PIs)
- Fort Wayne: $46,220-$53,340
According to May 2020, the average annual salary for PIs in Fort Wayne was around $45,510, and for PIs in Indianapolis was around $39,230.
*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.