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Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Kentucky

If you are interested in knowing more about the profession, then have a look through the following guide to learn how to become a private investigator in Kentucky:

Meet the Minimum Qualifications in Kentucky
Meet the Private Detective School Requirement in Kentucky
Submit an Application for Licensure in Kentucky
Pass the Kentucky Private Investigator Exam
Doing business as a PI in Kentucky

Located just outside Lexington, the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Private Investigators issues PI licenses, in addition to communicating with PIs in the Bluegrass State about the most recent laws governing their profession. Whether you are interested in working for an established company or going in to private practice, obtaining a license is essential to working private investigator jobs. Private detectives operate in all areas of the state, from the Louisville Metro Area to Bowling Green, Owensboro and Covington. Typical services provided by PIs include working for legal teams, locating missing or absconded persons, and conducting surveillance ops.



Step 1. Minimum Qualifications in Kentucky

The first step you need to take towards your goal of becoming licensed for private investigator jobs in Kentucky is to ensure you meet the following minimum qualifications:

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Be of good moral character
  • Be a U.S. citizen or lawful resident alien
  • If you have any felony convictions, 10 years must have passed since the completion of your sentence
  • No convictions for crimes involving dishonesty or moral turpitude within the past five years
  • If you are a military veteran you must not have been dishonorably discharged
  • Be of sound mental capacity
  • No misdemeanor or higher convictions within the past three years for crimes involving controlled substances
  • May not have been enrolled in a facility or program for substance abuse in the past three years
  • May not chronically or habitually use alcohol or drugs



Step 2. Private Investigator School Requirements in Kentucky

Kentucky law stipulates private investigator school requirements to solely include the completion of high school or an equivalent. It is a good idea to make yourself as an attractive PI as possible, and having a degree or academic certification in a pertinent field can do just that. It also shows that you are serious about your profession, are thinking ahead to possible career advancements, and that you are a capable individual.

Certificates and degrees in the following fields are available online and throughout the Bluegrass State:

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



Step 3. Submitting an Application with the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Private Detectives

When submitting an application for licensure you can begin by applying for an individual license. All private detectives operating in the state must at minimum be licensed individually.

Your Individual Application for Licensure should include:

  • $100 application fee
  • $300 license fee
  • $20 licensing request fee
  • Proof of affiliation from your employing PI agency, if any
  • Proof of a $250,000 for combined single-limit liability insurance – if you are solely employed by an attorney this is not necessary
  • Criminal history background check with three fingerprint cards for a $36.50 fee
  • Signed release for medical and psychological records

In addition to being licensed individually you may also need to complete a Company Application for Licensure if you are planning to form any of the following:

  • Sole-proprietorship, $100 application fee
  • Company, partnership, or corporation; $500 application fee

Keep in mind that the average time to evaluate an application for licensure is between two and three months.



Step 4. Private Investigator Exam in Kentucky

As part of the individual licensing process you will need to take the Private Investigator Exam. Once your application for licensure has been approved the Board will send you a study guide and scheduling information. You can begin preparing for the exam by studying the appropriate Kentucky Revised Statutes and Administrative Regulations, and the exam itself will include an evaluation of your knowledge regarding:

  • State and federal constitutional principles
  • Laws regarding eavesdropping, assault, search, seizure, and computer access
  • Relevant court decisions that have a bearing on liability



Step 5. Doing Business as a PI in Kentucky

Once you receive your PI license it will remain valid for two years. The Board will notify you of the renewal fee that will be between $50 and $250, and you will also need to complete a renewal application before your license expires.

Although there are currently no requirements for private detective training courses, certification classes, or continuing education, a provision for these does exist in the present Kentucky Revised Statutes. This is a good example why it is always a good idea to be familiar with the laws that pertain to the private investigator profession – these can change or be modified at any time.

You can keep up with legislation and other news by joining professional organizations such as the Kentucky Professional Investigators Association (KPIA) and the Kentucky Society of Professional Investigators (KSPI). These can also provide you with networking resources and additional information on how to become a private detective in the Bluegrass State.



Private Investigator Salary Information for Kentucky

Kentucky is a promising place to find work as a private investigator, since the state’s Department of Workforce Investment projects the growth in PI jobs to be 18.27% in the state.  This is based on estimates of the ten-year period leading up to 2018. 

In 2012, private investigators earned $44,380 on average in Kentucky, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Those with experience who were in the top ten percent averaged $58,530 a year.

The average salaries for private investigators in selected areas of Kentucky are listed below, followed by the average salary for those in the top 10th percentile of their field:

Kentucky City
Average Annual Salary
Louisville-Jefferson County

A license from the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Private Investigators is required to become a private investigator in this commonwealth.  Applicants must be at least 21 years old and meet requirements for having good character and not having had a felony conviction in the past ten years.

Those who apply to be private investigators in Kentucky must also pass a state examination and provide proof of insurance.  A $250,000 combined single-limit policy is required.  Private investigators who work exclusively under an attorney’s supervision are exempt from this rule.

Once an aspiring private investigator has received his or her license in Kentucky, there are a variety of types of work for them.  PIs should be highly proficient with computers, since they will be regularly checking databases as part of background investigations.  Also, some PIs specialize in computer forensics.

Conducting surveillance is another area of specialty for some private investigators.  This can range from investigation of workmen’s comp claims for insurance companies to determining whether a spouse is being unfaithful.

Seeking missing persons is another area of expertise.  This can range from finding loved ones that have disappeared to finding those who are due to inherit money or property.

Detailed information on the hourly and annual wages of private investigators in different areas of the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 2012 are provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the table shown below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Kentucky

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

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