You won’t find any licensing requirements to practice as a private investigator in Mississippi, but don’t think that a lack of regulations here has created an environment of bottom-feeding PIs with questionable ethics.
The opposite is true. Mississippi PIs are upstanding professionals who are often called to the profession after retiring from careers in law enforcement, corrections, and the military. They are fierce defenders of the legal system and seekers of justice, which is why their expertise is valued by everyone from trial attorneys to corporations to insurance companies.
|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|
And while they lend their talents to gather evidence for lawsuits, bust insurance fraudsters, and perform background investigations, sometimes their work creates truly meaningful changes in people’s lives.
For example, in July 2019, Mississippi private investigator Les Tannehill was credited with finding a Raymond woman who was missing since January of that year. Friends of the woman contacted Tannehill about two months after her disappearance. After discovering that the woman was not kidnapped but left on her own, he began the search and found her, alive and well but in need of psychiatric attention. Tannehill’s actions likely saved the woman’s life and brought her home to her loved ones.
There were just 290 private investigators working in Mississippi as of 2019, according to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. This number is projected to remain unchanged through 2021, so you can be sure there’ll be plenty of room for you to make your mark here without bumping into too much competition.
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*
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), private investigators in Mississippi earned an annual, median salary of $53,910 as of May 2019 – that’s about $3,000 more annually than the national average. Better still, the top 10% in Mississippi earned an average of $79,310 during this time.
Private Investigator Salaries in Jackson
The median-top 10% salary range for PIs in the Jackson area was $34,070-$67,790 as of May 2019. There were approximately 40 licensed PIs working here at 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.
2019 job growth projections from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security are aggregated through the U.S. Department of Labor-Sponsored resource, Projections Central. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
All salary and employment data accessed May 2020.