Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Missouri

Missouri state flag waving in the windMissouri’s private investigators are the pros on speed dial when attorneys need to collect evidence for civil liability and personal injury cases…when companies need to blow the lid off insurance fraud…and when local law enforcement agencies need solid background investigations on potential employees.

Whether they’re huddled down performing surveillance for hours on end or knocking down their to-do list by making phone calls and scouring the internet and social media sites, Missouri PIs are getting the job done and earning respect and admiration while they’re at it.

According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, there were just 250 PIs working throughout the state in 2019. This number is projected to hold steady through 2021, so there’s bound to be plenty of opportunities for new blood to make their mark in the profession.

The Board of Private Investigator and Private Fire Investigator Examiners, through the Missouri Division of Professional Regulation, regulates and licenses professional investigators. Since 2007, a license has been required to practice as a PI in Missouri. Now that you have got your basic requirements laid in front of you, let’s explore further how to become a private investigator in Missouri.

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


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.
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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 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 and choosing “Click here to access MACHS Fingerprint Search Portal.”

Once your application and related documentation are received by the government portal, 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
  • The 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), private investigators in Missouri earned an annual, average salary of $50,730 as of May 2020. Get a few years of experience under your belt and a nice list of clients and you may soon find yourself among the top 10% here who enjoy an annual average salary of $91,610.

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To earn a PI license through the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Regulation, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old, and you’ll need to pass a background investigation and written examination. You must also be able to obtain a $250,000 business general liability policy.

Private Investigator Salaries in Kansas City and St. Louis

In 2019, the following BLS stats reveal the median-top 10% salary range for PIs working in Missouri’s largest metros of Kansas City and St. Louis:

  • Kansas City: $52,130-$87,560 (approximately 150 licensed PIs)
  • Louis: $61,310-$82,210 (approximately 220 licensed PIs)

In 2020, the BLS stats reveal the annual average salary of the PIs in the largest metropolitan state areas under Missouri with Kansas City PIs earning a mean salary of $58,390.

*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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