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Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Nebraska

Private detectives in Nebraska are professionals who are licensed to engage in a private detective business (sole proprietor) without the assistance of any employee, while plain-clothes investigators are licensed professionals who work as employees on behalf of a private detective agency.

To become a licensed private detective or plain-clothes investigator in Nebraska, you must complete a number of steps:

Meet Minimum Requirements for Licensure in Nebraska
Meet Nebraska Education and Experience Requirements
Apply for your Nebraska State License
Take the Nebraska Examination for Private Investigator License
Getting to Work and Keeping your Nebraska License Current

The Licensing Division of Nebraska’s Secretary of State regulates and licenses private detectives, private detective agencies, and plain clothes investigators in the State of Nebraska, from Omaha and Lincoln to Bellevue and Grand Island.



Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements for Licensure in Nebraska

Before you can engage in any private detective business in Nebraska, you must ensure you meet minimum requirements for licensure, which include being at least 21 years old.

You may not apply for a private investigator license in the State of Nebraska if you engage in debt collection or are employed by a debt collector or have been convicted of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude.



Step 2. Meet Nebraska Education and Experience Requirements

To qualify for a private investigator license or private investigator agency license, you must show proof of the completion of one of the following:

  • A minimum of 3,000 hours of investigative experience
  • A minimum of 2,500 hours of investigative experience AND an associate’s degree in criminal justice (or a closely related field) from an accredited college or university
  • A minimum of 2,000 hours of investigative experience AND a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice (or a closely related field) from an accredited college or university

Investigative experience is defined as working in an investigative capacity for a city, county, state or federal law enforcement agency or private investigation company.

Note: Plain-clothes investigators do NOT have to meet education or experience requirements to qualify for licensure.



Step 3. Apply for your Nebraska State License

Once you have ensured you meet the minimum qualification for licensure and can provide documentation of the completion of your experience and education qualifications, you can apply for a license by completing the Application for Plain Clothes or Private Detective License or an Application for Private Detective Agency.

Along with your completed application, you must provide the following documents to the Division of Licensing:

  • Licensing Fee
    • Private Detective Agency: $100 + $38 (license plus background check)
    • Private Detective: $50 + $38
    • Plain Clothes Investigator: $25 + $38
  • Two fingerprint cards (for a national criminal history record check through the FBI), which can be completed at any local law enforcement office
  • A signed and authorized Release of Information form
  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Documentation showing proof of experience/education (not required for plain clothes investigators)
  • Proof of $10,000 surety bond (not required for plain clothes investigators)

Mail the completed application and related documentation/fee to:

Division of Licensing
P.O. Box 94608
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509



Step 4. Take the Nebraska Examination for Private Investigator License

Once the Division of Licensing has reviewed and approved your application (this can take up to 90 days), you will receive notification that you are eligible to take the examination, which includes information related to the Nebraska Private Detective Act.

Testing for all eligible candidates takes place on the third Wednesday of each month at 10:00 AM at the Nebraska State Capitol Building, Room 1305, in Lincoln. You must contact the Secretary of State’s Office at 402-471-2385 to notify them when you will be taking the examination.

You must score at least 80 percent on the examination to pass. If you fail the exam, you must wait at least 21 days to retake it.



Step 5. Getting to Work and Keeping your Nebraska License Current

Upon passing the examination for licensure, you will be licensed in the State of Nebraska. Private investigators may find a wealth of information and networking opportunities by seeking membership in a professional association, such as the Nebraska Association of Private Investigators.

The Nebraska Secretary of State also maintains a list of licensed private detectives and private detective agencies in Nebraska.

All licenses (private detective, plain clothes investigator, and private detective agency) must be renewed by June 30th of every even-numbered year, and a Renewal Application for Plain Clothes or Private Detective License or Renewal for Private Detective Agency must be completed. Renewal fees are as follows:

  • Private Detective: $50
  • Private Detective Agency: $100
  • Plain Clothes Investigator: $25



Private Investigator Salary Information for Nebraska

Three hundred and fifty private investigators worked in Nebraska in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The state can be a lucrative place to work as a private investigator or private detective.  The BLS spotlighted the state as having the fifth highest average PI salary of any state in the country.  This is particularly notable, since Nebraska has a lower cost of living than many other places in the U.S.

Some categories of private investigation are more lucrative than others in Nebraska.  The state’s Department of Labor indicated that private investigators who worked for insurance carriers and related activities in 2013 made nearly 40% more than those who worked in the field of credit intermediation.

The BLS provides 2012 salary data for Nebraska.  The median wage and the average of salary of experienced PIs in the top tenth percentile are listed below:

Nebraska City
Average Annual Salary

PI salaries increased during 2013.  The median wage in the state for that year was $66,520 according to Nebraska’s Office of Labor Market Information.

A license from the state is required to become a private investigator in Nebraska.  The fees are slightly different, depending on whether the application is to be a private detective or a plain-clothes investigator.

There are a number of requirements that are identical between these two categories of investigator, although private detectives are required to have liability insurance in the form of a $10,000 surety bond.

All applicants must undergo a background check by the Nebraska State Patrol and take a written exam.  A substantial amount of experience is required, although it varies depending on the educational background of the applicant.  The breakdown is as follows:

  • No degree:  3000 hours of experience
  • Associate’s degree:  2500 hours of experience
  • Bachelor’s degree:  2000 hours of experience

Once applicants have become private investigators, information on their salaries is tallied by the BLS.  A detailed breakdown of hourly and annual wages for 2012 in the Omaha area is provided in the table below.

Private Investigator Salaries in Nebraska

Area name
Annual mean wage
Omaha-Council Bluffs NE-IA

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