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Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Missouri

Becoming a private investigator in the State of Missouri involves completing a number of steps:

Meet Minimum Requirements in Missouri
Apply for a Private Investigator License in Missouri
Pass Missouri’s Written Examination
Get to Work and Maintain your Missouri License

The Board of Private Investigator and Private Fire Investigator Examiners, through the Missouri Division of Professional Regulation, regulates and licenses professional investigators. The Division of Professional Regulation supports 40 licensing boards in the state, which in turn license more than 430,000 people.



Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements in Missouri

If you want to become a private investigator in Missouri, you must first ensure you meet the minimum requirements for licensure as set forth by the Board:

  • You must be at least 21 years old.
  • You must be a citizen of the United States.
  • You must be capable of securing liability insurance in the amount of $250,000.

Although a degree from a college or university is not a requirement for becoming a private detective in Missouri, many individuals pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree or graduate certificate in criminal justice or a similar program as to attain a framework of knowledge in the criminal justice system. A degree program is a source of valuable information for achieving success as a private investigator.



Step 2. Apply for a Private Investigator License in Missouri

To become a private investigator in Missouri, you must complete an Application for Licensure – Private Investigator or Application for Licensure – Private Investigator Agency and submit the following:

  • $500 application fee (check or money order made payable to the Board of Private Investigator and Private Fire Investigator Examiners
  • Two passport-style photographs
  • Proof of liability and worker’s compensation insurance of no less than $250,000
  • A complete set of fingerprints – You must submit a set of fingerprints to the Board. You may choose to have your fingerprints electronically collected by registering with the Missouri Automated Criminal History site and scheduling an appointment to have your fingerprints collected by Cogent 3M by visiting www.machs.mo.gov and choosing “Click here to access MACHS Fingerprint Search Portal.”

Once your application and related documentation are received, you can expect a follow-up email informing you when your application will be reviewed by the Board.



Step 3. Pass Missouri’s Written Examination

Once the Board has reviewed your application for a Private Investigator license and determined you qualify for licensure, you can expect to receive information regarding the required examination.

The Board requires you to pass a written examination before you can achieve licensure in the state. The written examination, which is designed to assess your knowledge of investigator rules and regulations in Missouri, is given by the Board once it has been determined that you meet the minimum qualifications for licensure.

Note: The Board will not send an examination application or study guide until after you have applied for a license.

The written examination consists of 75 questions, which cover the following topics:

  • Current rules and regulations governing the practice of private investigating in Missouri: 55 questions
  • General practice of private investigators: 20 questions

You will have 2 hours to complete the examination, and you must score at least 70 percent to pass the exam.

The examination is administered by the Division of Professional Registration, which is located at 3605 Missouri Boulevard in Jefferson City, Missouri. The cost of the examination is $80, which is submitted at the same time as you submit your exam application.



Step 4. Get to Work and Maintain your Missouri License

Upon passing the examination, you will receive your license as a private detective in Missouri. In addition to using the Board of Private Investigator and Private Fire Investigators Examiners website as a source for the most up-to-date information regarding the profession in Missouri, you may find that joining a professional association, such as the Missouri Association of Private Investigators is an invaluable source of networking opportunities.

Many private investigators also seek professional certification in this field, such as ASIS International’s Professional Certified Investigator designation.

All private investigators in Missouri must maintain their license by completing at least 16 hours of continuing education units every two years. All license renewals are completed online.



Private Investigator Salary Information for Missouri

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 610 people were employed as private investigators in Missouri in 2012.  One of the best areas for jobs in the state is St. Louis.  It had the ninth highest level of private investigator and private detective employment of any metropolitan area in the country in 2012.

The BLS provides salary information for private investigators in Missouri.  The average salary of these professionals throughout the state was $47,710 in 2012.  Experienced professionals had substantially higher salaries, which averaged $79,310.

Salary data for selected cities in Missouri is listed below.  The average annual salary is followed by that of private investigators in the 90th percentile:

Missouri City
Average Annual Salary
Kansas City
St. Louis

The state of Missouri started requiring licenses for private investigators in the state in 2007.  They are provided by the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Regulation.

Applicants must be at least 21 years old and pass a background check and a two hour licensing exam to obtain a license from the.  Liability insurance is also required in the form of a $250,000 business general liability policy.

Once they have been licensed, most private investigators work for investigation and security services.  Others work for state or local government.  Additional sources of employment are with the management of companies.  A substantial number of private investigators work in legal services.

The highest salaries for private investigators tend to be in technical fields such aerospace manufacturing, computer systems design, and the manufacturing of navigational and electromedical devices.

Employment and detailed salary data for private investigators working in Missouri is available from the BLS.  A detailed breakdown of hourly and annual wages by percentile is provided in the table shown below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Missouri

Area name
Annual mean wage
Kansas City MO-KS
St. Louis MO-IL

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