With an economy thriving and fully plugged into the pipeline of federal funding and job opportunities bolstered by a high-tech industry that includes more than 9,000 aerospace and defense contractors that serve the more than 60 federal agencies with operations in the state – Maryland is a hot spot for private investigators.
|Meet Basic Qualifications in Maryland|
|Complete Training and Experience Requirements in Maryland|
|Submit Application and Documentation in Maryland|
|Now that you’re a Private Investigator in Maryland|
Whether they’re performing employee background checks related to DoD security clearances, gathering evidence and conducting witness interviews as hired guns for local law offices, or investigating cases of fraud and embezzlement through the Office of Inspector General, there is more investigations work on the table here than almost anywhere else in the country.
According to the Maryland Department of Labor, the state was home to 1,180 licensed PIs as of 2019. But there’s no risk of oversaturation in a market that is jam-packed with opportunities. In fact, numbers are expected to continue to rise based on demand, with projections showing about 120 new PIs joining the field every year.
All private investigators in Maryland must be registered with the Maryland State Police and must work for a licensed private detective agency. Private investigators who run their own agencies must also become licensed.
Step 1. Meet Basic Qualifications for Private Detectives in Maryland
There are a few basic requirements that all applicants for private detective registration must meet before becoming registered to work in Maryland:
- You must be at least 25 years old
- You must have good moral character and reputation
- You must pass a criminal background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- You must be employed by/have an employment offer from a licensed private detective agency in Maryland
- If applying for licensure for a private detective agency, you must meet experience requirements (see below)
- If applying for a handgun permit, you must meet training requirements (see below)
Step 2. Complete Training and Experience Requirements for Private Detectives in Maryland
Although education is not required to become an individual registered private investigator/private detective in Maryland, some type of formal training is recommended.
- Obtaining certification or a college degree in one of the following areas is encouraged:
- Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
- Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Business Administration in Legal Studies
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
Experience is not required in order to receive private detective registration in Maryland. However, if you plan to open your own private detective agency in Maryland, this requires a license from the state. You must meet all of the following training and experience requirements before the state will issue you a license to start a private detective agency in Maryland:
- Five or more years of experience as a full-time certified or licensed private detective, AND
- Five or more years of experience as a full-time police officer, AND
- Completion of a police officer training course approved by the Maryland Police Training Commission, AND
- Three years of experience in the investigation as a detective while working as a police officer
Alternatively, you may claim the following to meet C and D education and experience requirements for private detectives opening agencies in Maryland:
- Five years of experience as a full-time fire investigator for a fire department or law enforcement agency of Maryland or of a county or jurisdiction in Maryland, AND
Complete training certified by the Maryland Police Training Commission or the Maryland Fire-Rescue Education and Training Commission
Step 3. Submit Maryland Private Detective Registration Application and Supporting Documentation
Private Detective Registration
In order to become a registered private detective in Maryland, you must:
- Submit the Multiple Licensing Application, having pages 7 and 13 notarized
- Submit one set of completed fingerprint cards (one purple CJIS fingerprint card and one blue and white FBI fingerprint card)
- Submit two recent (taken in the last month) passport-type photos of yourself with a white background
- Submit private detective registration fee of $15 via check or money order payable to Maryland State Police
- Submit background check fee of $37.25 via check or money order payable to Maryland State Police
- If requesting a handgun permit along with your private investigator registration, you must also submit:
- Two additional recent (taken in the last month) passport-type photographs of yourself with a white background
- $75 application fee via separate check/money order payable to Maryland State Police
- Certificate of qualification with a handgun from a Maryland State Police Certified Handgun instructor on a Maryland State Police form
- Copy of form letter (obtained by your private detective employer) supporting good and substantial reasons why you need a handgun permit, ownership of a weapon, and location of the handgun
- Mail all of the above to Maryland State Police, Licensing Division, 1111 Reisterstown Rd, Pikesville, MD 21208. It may take up to 90 days for the background check to be completed and for your application to be approved.
Once approved, you will receive a private detective identification card. This is valid for employment only with the private detective agency listed on your application. If you change employers, you must surrender your card to the Maryland State Police and register to work for another agency.
Private Investigation Agency License
In order to open your own licensed private investigation agency in Maryland, you must apply for a Private Detective Agency license:
- Submit the Multiple Licensing Application, having pages 7 and 13 notarized
- Submit two additional recent passport photos of yourself on a white background
- Submit a copy of the Articles of Incorporation of your business and minutes of the last meeting that appointed officers of the corporation
- If you are a foreign corporation, submit a copy of the receipt from the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation to certify that you are registered as a foreign corporation to do business in Maryland
- Set of fingerprint cards (if not submitted above)
- If you employ five or more people, submit a copy of the General Liability Insurance Policy of one million dollars
- Correct fees:
- Private Investigation Agency, not incorporated: $237.25
- Private Investigation Agency, incorporated: $412.25
- Mail all of the above to Maryland State Police, Licensing Division, 1111 Reisterstown Rd, Pikesville, MD 21208. It may take up to 90 days for the background check to be completed and your application to be approved.
Step 4. Now that You’re a Registered Private Detective in Maryland
Well done! You have completed all the requirements to become a registered private detective in Maryland!
You must renew your registration/certification every three years. You will be mailed renewal information from the Maryland State Police 90 days before your certification expires. Instructions on renewal will be included. Generally, you must submit another FBI fingerprint records check and fees, along with a renewal application fee (total of $69.25, check or money order payable to the Maryland State Police).
If you have a handgun permit, you must also submit a certificate of completion from a one-hour handgun re-certification class given by a Maryland State Police Certified Handgun instructor.
If you own a private detective agency, the agency’s license is valid for two years. About 90 days before the license is set to expire, you will be mailed a renewal packet from the Licensing Division of the Maryland State Police. You will be instructed on what documentation to submit and the fees due in order to renew your agency’s license.
Private Investigator Salary Information for Maryland*
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Maryland private investigators earned an annual, average salary of $60,090 as of May 2020. Those with the most extensive backgrounds in investigations and the most impressive credentials earn at or near the top 10%, where the average PI salary was $96,320 during this time.
To qualify for certification as a private investigator in Maryland, you must be at least 25 years old and show proof of having at least five years of full-time experience working as a firefighter or police officer or three years of experience as a law enforcement investigator.
Private Investigator Salaries in Baltimore
The median-top 10% salary range for PIs in Baltimore was $64,860-$100,090 in May 2019, which is higher than the state average. In May 2020, the BLS stats reported that PIs in the metropolitan state areas earned an average of $66,960.
*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.