Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Kentucky

Kentucky is a unique blend of economic centers and wide open spaces where high-tech industry and business intersect with small towns tucked away within expansive farmland.

For the state’s private investigators, this makes for an interesting professional landscape where cases that begin in the teaming metros of Louisville and Bowling Green often end up taking them deep into rural enclaves where it sometimes feels like life hasn’t changed for a hundred years.

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

The job could have you tracking a stolen vehicle to a chop shop outside of Owensboro city limits for a private client, talking to witnesses in a civil suit as a hired gun for a Lexington law firm, investigating a job injury in Frankfort for the Kentucky Department of Worker’s Claims or uncovering evidence of fraud and embezzlement in the Louisville offices of a Fortune 500 company.

There’s plenty of work to go around in the Bluegrass State for PIs with investigative skills and the perseverance it takes to see a case through to its final conclusion. Add computer skills, a good, working knowledge of the legal system, and strong research skills and your stock can go even higher here.

Private investigators in Kentucky must be licensed through the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Private Investigators. To qualify for licensure, applicants must be at least 21 years old and pass a state examination.



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.

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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*

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), private investigators in Kentucky earned an average, annual salary of $48,690 in May 2019. Those in the top 10% – likely the PIs with the best client lists and a handful of years of practice – earned an average of $76,160.

To earn licensure through the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Private Investigators, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old, pass a state exam, and provide proof of at least $250,000 insurance.

Private Investigator Salaries in Louisville

2019 BLS stats indicate that the median-top 10% salary range for PIs was $44,280-$76,280 in the state’s largest MSA of Louisville. About 130 licensed PIs were working in this metro area during this time.


*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. 

All salary and employment data accessed May 2020.

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