Mississippi, to date, has no licensing or regulation requirements for private investigators. However, private investigators and private investigative agencies operating in Mississippi still have a number of options to pursue when looking to set up shop in the state.
To become a private investigator in Mississippi, you may choose to complete a number of steps:
|Complete an Education Program in Mississippi|
|Seek Experience in Criminal Justice|
|Attain Professional Recognition in Mississippi|
|Obtain a Permit to Carry a Concealed Weapon in Mississippi|
|Maintain your Weapons Permit in Mississippi|
Step 1. Complete an Education Program in Mississippi
An education in criminal justice or a similar program is a smart, first step for many individuals seeking careers as private investigators.
In addition to serving as a solid foundation for this profession, a bachelor’s degree, graduate degree or graduate certificate in criminal justice, computer forensics, security management, investigation, or a related program is also mandatory for other professions in the field of law enforcement or investigations. As such, completing a degree program is a logical step for anyone with an interest in the private investigations field.
Step 2. Seek Experience in Criminal Justice
Just as an education is an important aspect of the field of private investigation, so is experience, as many private investigation agencies seek individuals with experience in investigations or similar areas. As such, upon graduating from a college degree program, it may be wise to seek entry-level employment in an investigative or detective agency as to gain valuable experience in the field.
Step 3. Attain Professional Recognition in Mississippi
Even though Mississippi does not currently have any laws governing the practice of private detectives in the state, many professionals choose to pursue membership in a professional association as to set themselves apart from others in the field.
For example, the Mississippi Private Investigators Association offers membership to private investigators in the state. Through membership, private investigators can receive professional recognition while also engaging in productive and practical dialogue about issues that affect the industry. Further, the Association will serve as a united front for the development of any future legislation in Mississippi.
Private investigators in Mississippi may also seek professional certification through a national association like ASIS International, which offers the Professional Certified Investigator designation, which requires at least 5 years of experience in investigations.
Step 4. Obtain a Permit to Carry a Concealed Weapon in Mississippi
If you intend to carry a firearm as a private detective, you must apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon (pistol, stun gun or revolver) through the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.
To qualify to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon, you must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be a resident of the State of Mississippi for at least 12 months (Active military or retired law enforcement personnel are exempt from this requirement.)
- Have no felony convictions
- Not chronically or habitually abuse controlled substances or alcohol
- Not been adjudicated mentally incompetent in the last 5 years
- Not be a fugitive from justice
- Not be disqualified to possess or use a weapon based on federal law
To apply to carry a firearm, you must:
- Complete an Individual Firearms Permit application.
- Notarize the application and bring it to the Department of Public Safety headquarters in Jackson or one of the Mississippi Highway Patrol substations, which are located in:
- New Albany
- Present two forms of identification (one being a government-issued photo ID) and get fingerprinted when you drop off your application.
- Submit a fee in the amount of $138, which includes the application fee of $106 and the fingerprint fee of $32 (cash or check made payable to the Department of Public Safety).
Step 5. Maintain your Weapons Permit in Mississippi
To renew your permit, you must complete the Individual Firearms Permit Renewal application and submit the renewal application fee of $56. Permits are renewed every 5 years.
Private Investigator Salary Information for Mississippi
The field of private investigation is growing in Mississippi with a 16.7% increase in employment projected between 2010 and 2020, according to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. As of 2012, 270 private investigations were employed in the state based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Jackson had the eighth highest concentration of jobs of any metropolitan area in the country in 2012. Slightly more than 40% of the state’s PIs were based in Jackson.
The BLS also provides information on the 2012 salaries of private investigators. The average annual salary in the state was $34,830. Experienced professionals can earn significantly higher salaries. The average annual salary of those in the top ten percent of earners was $67,220. Ranges are listed for PIs in selected cities in Mississippi:
The nonmetropolitan area of northeastern Mississippi had the fourth highest salaries of any nonmetropolitan area in the country.
It is relatively straightforward to become a private investigator or detective in Mississippi, since no special license is required. It is recommended that PIs in the state obtain a business license.
Private investigators work in a number of different areas. One area in high demand at the moment is computer forensics, given the amount of fraud that is carried out online combined with the sustained harassment of some people over the internet.
Many investigators work for insurance companies verifying workman compensation claims. Others perform surveillance on spouses suspected of infidelity. Businesses are another common source of employment, since companies frequently need to investigate suspected fraud.
Defense attorneys are another type of potential client. Diligent investigative work can sometimes help a great deal with the defendants’ cases.
The BLS provides a great deal of information on employment levels and a breakdown of salaries by hourly and annual percentiles. The following table lists this information for some of the areas of Mississippi that employ large numbers of private investigators.
Private Investigator Salaries in Mississippi