Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Michigan

Flag of Michigan painted on brick wall

The era of social media has expanded the already-broad scope of private investigating throughout the country, and in Michigan, it’s led to a successful niche for a number of these pros.

Take, for example, licensed investigator Julie Erickson. After discovering the potential dangers associated with online dating apps, she opened her own Michigan PI agency called JAE Investigations, with the ultimate goal of keeping clients safe. Using her investigative skills and resources, she looks into potential dates for her clients, checking for things like criminal convictions and domestic violence charges.

Meet Michigan’s Minimum Licensing Requirements
Meet Minimum Experience or Education Requirements in Michigan
Apply for Michigan Licensure as a Private Investigator
Get to Work in Michigan
Maintain your Michigan License

As one of the 820 PIs licensed in the state as of 2019, according to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, Erickson is doing what so many of her colleagues have also done – forging her own, unique path in private investigations and making a name for herself along the way.

All professional investigators in Michigan are regulated and licensed through the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

The term “investigation business” under the Act is defined as a business entity that conducts investigations for the purpose of obtaining information pertaining to crimes. Professional investigators are allowed to perform any number of activities under this definition, including:

  • Securing evidence to be used in court
  • Locating and/or recovering stolen property
  • Electronic tracking
  • Using computer forensics findings as evidence in court
  • Using devices for eavesdropping and/or observation



Step 1. Meet Michigan’s Minimum Licensing Requirements

Before you can pursue a career as a private detective in Michigan, you must ensure you meet minimum requirements for licensure. Specifically, you must:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be at least 25 years old
  • Possess a high school diploma or the equivalent
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Have no misdemeanor convictions involving the following:
    • Dishonesty or fraud
    • Unauthorized selling or divulging information or evidence
    • Impersonating a law enforcement official
    • Illegally using or possessing a dangerous weapon
    • Controlled substances
    • Assault
  • Have no more than 2 misdemeanor alcohol-related offenses
  • Have no dishonorable discharge from the United States military



Step 2. Meet Minimum Experience or Education Requirements in Michigan

To become a licensed private detective in Michigan, you must have at least 3 years of full-time experience in one of the following:

  • Engaging in a legal professional investigation business as an investigator, licensee, or registrant
  • Conducting a professional investigation agency
  • Working in investigative or intelligence activities, which may include the following professions:
    • Investigator
    • Detective
    • Special agent
    • Intelligence specialist
    • Parole agent
    • Probation officer
    • Certified police officer
  • Engaging in the investigation business as a full-time proprietary or in-house investigator employed by a business or an attorney
  • Working as an investigative reporter employed by a media outlet

You may also meet the minimum requirements for licensure through the completion of a bachelor’s degree program or higher in one of the following areas:

  • Police administration
  • Security management
  • Investigation
  • Law
  • Criminal justice
  • Computer forensics
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Step 3. Apply for Michigan Licensure as a Private Investigator

Once you determine you have successfully met the minimum requirements for licensure either through education or experience, you can apply using the Application for Professional Investigator License Holder. Along with a completed application, you must submit the following:

  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Completed Employment Verification forms or an official transcript if you are qualifying through a degree (included in application packet)
  • A Professional Investigator Surety Bond or Insurance Amendatory Endorsement form that covers all 3 years of the license period
  • A copy of your Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization (Available through the Bureau of Commercial Services at 517-241-6470)
  • A copy of your Certificate of Co-Partnership from the county clerk where your business is located
  • An Assumed Name Certificate or DBA if you are using a name that is different from your name or your corporation or organization name (Available from the Bureau of Commercial Services, Corporate Division, at 517-241-6470)
  • Five (5) notarized Personal Reference forms from individuals who can attest to knowing you for at least 5 years (included in application packet)

If you are currently a law enforcement officer, you may not be licensed in the State of Michigan as a private detective unless you produce one of the following to the Department:

  • Written permission to act as a private investigator from your employer
  • A copy of your jurisdiction’s published policies and procedures that includes verbiage of officers being allowed to seek off-duty employment as a private investigator
  • A copy of the collective bargaining agreement from your jurisdiction

The licensing fees for private investigators in Michigan are as follows (make check payable to the State of Michigan):

  • Individual License $750
  • Partnership License $750
  • Corporation License $750
  • Limited Liability Company License $750

The completed application and related documentation should be sent to:

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

Licensing Division

Professional Investigator

Post Office Box 30018

Lansing, Michigan 48909



Step 4. Get to Work in Michigan

The Michigan Council of Private Investigators is a good source for finding work in the State of Michigan as a private investigator. Membership in the Council may provide you with a number of opportunities for networking and information regarding the private investigation practice in the state.

Note: According to the Professional Investigator Licensure Act, all private investigators in Michigan must be fingerprinted upon being hired by an agency.

Professional certification in this field is often advantageous for career advancement and professional achievement. ASIS International offers the Professional Certified Investigator certification, which requires at least 5 years of experience in investigations, 2 of which must be in case management.



Step 5. Maintain your Michigan License

You must apply for re-licensure every 3 years as a private investigator in Michigan by completing the Application for Re-licensure as a Professional Investigator Agency form and submitting a $750 renewal fee (payable to the State of Michigan).


Private Investigator Salary Information for Michigan*

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2020, private investigators in Michigan earned an annual median salary of $42,515. The highest earners here (top 10%) earned $74,330 on average during this time.

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To become a private investigator in Michigan, you will need a license from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. To qualify, you must be at least 25 years old and have been involved in one of the following occupations full-time for at least three years:

  • Served as an investigative employee in another state
  • Worked as an investigator for one who holds a license for conducting a professional investigative agency
  • Served as a law enforcement officer for a government agency
  • Graduated with a bachelor’s or graduate degree in a field such as criminal justice or police administration
  • Served as an in-house investigator for a business or attorney
  • Served as an investigative reporter for a recognized media outlet

PI Salaries in Detroit, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw

In 2019, the following BLS stats indicate what PIs in the median-top 10% salary range are earning in Michigan’s largest metro areas:

  • Detroit: $58,010-$100,120 (approximately 190 licensed PIs)
  • Muskegon: $54,490-$64,470
  • Kalamazoo: $35,830-$48,020 (approximately 260 licensed PIs)
  • Grand Rapids: $45,000-$64,890 (approximately 80 licensed PIs)
  • Saginaw: $57,260-$67,550 (approximately 40 licensed PIs)


*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.

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