From Fortune 500 corporations to the smallest start-ups, companies rely on private investigators to conduct employee background checks, verify on-the-job injury claims, and much, much more. As a member of this elite profession, you may be asked to confirm that an employee is sharing proprietary information with the competition one minute and then asked to gather evidence on an ex-employee who is breaking a non-compete agreement the next. It’s always something that’s a far cry from the ordinary with Minnesota’s PIs, and it’s rarely the same from one client to the next.
From Saint Paul to Minneapolis to Duluth and beyond, today’s private investigators are also trusted and relied upon by attorneys trying both civil and criminal cases, insurance companies questioning the validity of a workers’ compensation claim, and private citizens seeking answers for everything from suspicions of cheating spouses to the whereabouts of missing loved ones.
There’s loads of PI work in Minnesota to tackle, plenty to keep the approximately 510 licensed PIs working here with a backlog of cases, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Minnesota’s PIs are licensed through the Minnesota Board of Private Detective and Protective Agent Services. To qualify for licensure, you must be at least 18 years old, provide character references, pass a background check, and show proof of at least 6,000 hours of investigative experience.
Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements for Private Detective Licensure in Minnesota
To become a private investigator in Minnesota, you must first meet minimum requirements for licensure, which include the following:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must be free of felony convictions.
- You must be able to supply a $10,000 surety bond at the time of your application.
- You must be able to supply proof of Financial Responsibility at the time of your application.
Step 2. Complete a Comprehensive Education Program in Minnesota
Although not a requirement of private investigators in Minnesota, many individuals seeking this career path choose to first pursue an associate’s degree or higher in criminal justice or a related program to achieve the basic framework of the judicial and criminal justice system.
Further, the experience requirement for licensure as a private investigator in Minnesota (see Step 3) may be facilitated when you hold a college degree, as many employers in the field of criminal justice or law enforcement now require their employees to possess degrees or other formal training.
Step 3. Show Proof of Documented Professional Hours
To qualify for a private detective license in Minnesota, you must be able to document at least 6,000 hours of investigative employment in one or more of the following areas:
- Investigator with a licensed private detective/investigative agency
- Investigator with a U.S. government investigative service
- Investigator for a city police department or sheriff’s office
Step 4. Request a Minnesota Application Package
Once you have successfully met the experience requirements for licensure in Minnesota as a private investigator, you can request an application package from the Board by submitting a non-refundable fee of $25 (made payable to the Board of Private Detective and Protective Agent Services), along with a written request that specifies you are interested in receiving an application for a private detective and the level at which you want to apply* to:
State of Minnesota
Board of Private Detective and Protective Agent Services
1430 Maryland Avenue East
St. Paul, Minnesota, 55106
*You may apply for a private detective license as a Sole Proprietor (individual), a Partnership/LLP, or as a Corporation/Limited Liability Company (LLC).
If you are applying as a sole proprietor, it means you serve as the day-to-day manager and supervisor of the licensed activity and that you may or may not have employees. You may also apply as a partnership or corporation with a qualified representative candidate individual who will serve as the day-to-day manager and supervisor of the licensed activity.
Step 5. Apply for Licensure in Minnesota as a Private Investigator
Once you receive your application packet from the Board, you must complete it and send it to the Board, along with the private detective license fee of:
- Individual: $1,000
- Partnership: $1,700
- Corporation/LLC: $1,900
You must also submit the following documents with your application (all forms are included in your application packet):
- A completed informed consent criminal history form
- A recent photograph
- A full set of fingerprints
- Five (5) references from people not related to you who have known you for at least 5 years
- If you are applying as a qualified representative, you must include documentation of work experience
Step 6. Getting to Work in Minnesota
You must complete pre-assignment training within the first 21 days of your employment. Private investigators must complete at least 12 hours of initial training, and employers are responsible for ensuring their employees meet this requirement.
Information on training for private investigators, including a list of approved training providers and course application documents, can be found on the Board of Private Detective and Protective Agent Services website.
If you will carry any type of weapon, including a firearm, baton, or other devices, you must also complete armed training, which consists of an additional 6 hours of training, including first aid and CPR certification.
Step 7. Maintain your Minnesota License
Private investigators in Minnesota are required to complete at least 6 hours of continuing training during every 2-year renewal period. If you complete more than 6 hours of training in any given renewal period, you may apply that to the next renewal period (with the exception of continuing armed training).
License re-issuance fees are as follows:
- 0 employees: $540
- 1 to 10 employees: $710
- 11 to 25 employees: $880
- 26 to 50 employees: $1,050
- 51 or more employees: $1,220
Private Investigator Salary Information for Minnesota*
A license from the Board of Private Detective and Protective Agency Services is required to become a private detective in Minnesota. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, must pass a background investigation, and must provide five character references and liability insurance in the form of a $10,000 surety bond.
To qualify for licensure, you must have at least 6,000 hours of investigative experience in one or more of the following:
- Licensed private detective or investigative agency
- U.S. government investigative service
- Municipal police or sheriff’s office
Private Investigator Salaries in Duluth
According to the BLS stats of May 2020, the mean average salary for Duluth MSA was around $58,410.
In the Duluth metro area, the salary range for private investigators in the median-top 10% is $63,180-$78,100.
*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.