Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Iowa

State of Iowa Waving Flag in 3DIowa’s PIs are the pros that get called in when distraught parents are desperately looking for the whereabouts of a runaway child and the police have hit a dead-end…when companies need evidence to prove that an employee is siphoning off money or funneling proprietary information to the competition…and when a husband needs concrete proof to confirm his suspicions that his wife isn’t working long hours – she’s cheating.

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Private investigators are in a unique position to do a job they love while being their own boss, something that is becoming rare these days. There are not a lot of opportunities out there to make a living while getting a little taste of adventure anymore, but if that’s what you’re looking for from a job, then private investigations could be the ticket for you.

Meet the Basic Requirements in Iowa
Iowa Training and Education Requirements
Applying for Licensure in Iowa with the Private Investigator Licensing Services Bureau
Maintaining your License in Iowa

The money doesn’t always come easy in this line of work. So for a lot of the former cops and military service members that make up a large portion of the licensed PIs in Iowa, it’s really quite a bit more than just a job. It’s a personal identity and a way of life.

But no matter what your background, you’re not getting into the profession without rock-solid qualifications, the resolve and resourcefulness it takes to see a case through to its final conclusion, and the integrity it takes to give every single case your full, undivided attention even when no one is looking over your shoulder. You won’t find any shady dealings or unethical business practices in this group, and you won’t find anybody phoning it in.

According to Iowa Workforce Development, there were just 160 PIs licensed to work here as of 2019, almost exclusively concentrated in the state’s largest cities of Cedar Rapids, Davenport, and De Moines. That’s not a lot of competition to go up against, so you’ll find plenty of room here to establish a business and start building a client list without stepping on toes, whether you want to set up shop in the big cities or the quieter suburbs.

While there are no experience or education requirements necessary to become a PI in Iowa, you’ll need to pass a background investigation and provide proof of a $5,000 surety bond before you can become licensed.

Many come to the profession with backgrounds in law enforcement and the military. It also helps to gain valuable experience by working under a licensed PI for a couple of years. Many more choose to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field, which serves as a solid foundation on which to build a career in private investigating,

The Private Investigator Licensing Services Bureau of the Department of Public Safety has specific requirements and processes in place for the licensing of private investigators in the state.



Step 1. Meet Basic Requirements in Iowa

To become a licensed private investigator in Iowa you will need to meet the following basic requirements:

  • Not currently be a peace officer: sheriff’s deputy, police officer, etc
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have no aggravated misdemeanor or felony convictions
  • Be of good moral character
  • Have never been judged guilty of a crime involving moral turpitude or fraud
  • No history of violence or illegally carrying dangerous weapons
  • Not currently be addicted to alcohol or drugs



Step 2. Private Investigator Training and School Requirements in Iowa

Although there are no official private investigator school and training requirements in Iowa, there are several reasons why you should consider pursuing training, certification classes, or a degree in relevant fields.

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Formal education provides the following benefits:

  • Education credentials will demonstrate you are serious about your job
  • Show you are qualified with the right know-how to get the job done well
  • Open up future career advancement prospects
  • Increase your competitiveness for clients among other PIs in the Hawkeye State

The following programs are available as certificate classes and degrees at locations throughout the state as well as online:

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



Step 3. Applying with the Private Investigator Licensing Services Bureau in Iowa

When completing a license for private investigator jobs in Iowa, make sure to include the following along with your complete application:

  • Two fingerprint cards
  • $140 total fee for fingerprinting, licensing, and ID card
  • Proof of a surety bond of at least $5,000
  • Proof of liability insurance covering accidents, wrongdoings, and subsequent consequences



Step 4. Maintaining Your Iowa Private Detective License

Your PI license will expire every two years. To renew this you will need to maintain compliance with the minimum qualifications from the first step and submit the following to the Bureau at least 30 days before your license expires:

  • Two completed FBI fingerprint cards
  • Renewal form
  • Proof of 12 hours of continuing education
  • Proof of continued insurance coverage and a maintained surety bond

You may determine which continuing education courses are right for you on the condition that these are formal programs of learning that contribute directly to your professional competence.

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If you choose to have a firearm permit and you carry a firearm, you must follow the appropriate state laws.

Monitoring the State Legislature is a good way to stay informed about the current laws and statutes regulating the private detective profession in Iowa. If you are interested in additional private detective training opportunities you may consider joining a professional organization such as the Iowa Association of Private Investigators (IAPI). The IAPI can provide you with legal information, training resources, networking opportunities as well as additional tips on how to become a private investigator in Iowa.


*No salary information at this time.

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