Welcome to Nevada, home of the most loved and reviled place on earth – Sin City, where bad decisions are part of the appeal and where private investigators are veritable rockstars.
Take for instance Exclusive Investigations Inc., a PI firm in Las Vegas that has been featured on ABC News 20/20 and Dr. Drew’s Life Changers. Their work in surveillance and infidelity services earned them national attention as a leader in their field and put cheaters on notice. PIs don’t often benefit from the media spotlight – it’s not exactly good for business when everyone knows who you are. But there’s something about Vegas – the odds of winning here are long, but people’s memories are short.
Not surprising, the number of private investigators in the state is projected to grow by nearly 17% in the ten-year period leading up to 2026, according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. Naturally, most PIs in the state set up shop in Las Vegas, and demand keeps the numbers growing, so chances are you’ll be able to get in there and make your mark without stepping on anyone’s toes.
|Meet Minimum Requirements in Nevada|
|Meet Education/Experience Requirements in Nevada|
|Apply for a Nevada Private Investigator License|
|Pass the Examination for Private Investigators in Nevada|
|Networking and Keeping Licensure Current in Nevada|
Nevada’s Private Investigators Licensing Board regulates and licenses private investigators to protect the general welfare and safety of the people of Nevada. The Board defines a private investigator as being “any person who for any consideration engages in business or accepts employment…to make any investigation.” That’s a broad definition, and one that allows for a lot of different niche areas to specialize in – from gaming fraud, to marital infidelity, to insurance fraud, and a million other areas where people try to get one over.
Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements in Nevada
Before applying for a license as a private investigator in Nevada, you must meet the minimum requirements for licensure. Regardless of the city in which you live, from Las Vegas and Reno to North Las Vegas and Henderson, the minimum requirements for licensure are the same:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Be a citizen of the United States or allowed to work in the United States
- Have no felony convictions or convictions involving crimes of moral turpitude or the illegal use or possession of a dangerous weapon
- Be able to pass a background investigation through the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Nevada Department of Public Safety, and the California Department of Justice (if you ever lived or worked in California)
Step 2. Meet Education/Experience Requirements in Nevada
All candidates for private investigator licenses in Nevada must possess at least 5 years of investigative experience (2,000 hours each year for a total of 10,000 hours).
However, you may satisfy some of your experience requirements through a college program in police science or criminal justice, as follows:
- An associate’s degree in police science or criminal justice equals 8 months (1,333 hours)
- A bachelor’s degree in police science or criminal justice equals 18 months (3,000 hours)
Step 3. Apply for a Nevada Private Investigator License
Upon ensuring you meet the minimum qualifications for licensure as a private detective in Nevada, you must apply for your private investigator license online through the Nevada Private Investigators Licensing Board portal. Along with a completed application, you must provide the following to the Board:
- A non-refundable application processing fee of $20
- A $100 examination fee
- A $750 background investigation deposit (and $250 for each additional category of license for which the application is made)
Note: If you are a resident of Nevada, the entire cost of the investigation may total no more than $1,500 (each additional category may be up to $500), while a corporate applicant or an application who is not a resident of Nevada is liable for the entire cost of the investigation.
- A passport-style photograph
- A completed child support information form (if applicable)
- A copy of your birth certificate, naturalization papers and/or passport
- Certificate of Good Standing and a Certificate of Incorporation from the state you are incorporated in (for corporation licenses only)
Note: If your license application is a firm or partnership, the application must be signed and verified by all members. If your license application is a corporation, it must be signed and verified by the president, secretary, and treasurer. Further, if you are applying for a corporate license, you must submit your corporate financial statement in addition to your personal financial statement.
- Three (3) fingerprint cards, along with a fingerprint processing fee of $37.50 (made payable to Nevada DPS) and 1 fingerprint card for California (if applicable) and a processing fee of $32 (made payable to CDOJ). You can have your fingerprint cards completed at any local law enforcement office.
- At least 3 Notarized Certificates of Support of Experience and Qualifications forms
- At least 3 Notarized Certificates in Support of Personal References forms
- Diplomas and transcripts showing proof of education (if applicable)
- Three (3) years of tax returns, including all W2s, K1s and/or 1099s
Step 4. Pass the Nevada Examination for Private Investigators
Upon submitting your application for licensure and receiving approval from the Board, you may take the Nevada State Board Examination, which is designed to assess your knowledge of the Nevada Revised Statutes and Regulations.
The examination is given quarterly and is administered either in Las Vegas or Carson City. You must score at least 75 percent to receive a passing score. If you fail the exam, you must pay a $100 fee to retake it.
Step 5. Network for Job Opportunities and Keep your Nevada License Up-to-Date
After passing the Nevada State Board Examination, before you can receive your license you will be required to provide proof to the Board that you have an insurance policy that is no less than $200,000, written by an insurance company authorized to do business in the state.
Membership in a local or state association, such as the Nevada Society of Professional Investigators, often provides a number of opportunities for private investigators in the field, including networking events and current information on legislation affecting the private investigation industry.
All online renewals are completed online. You must provide your license number to complete the online renewal. Licenses are renewed every year on July 1, and the cost of renewal is $500 per license, per year.
Private Investigator Salary Information for Nevada*
Choose Nevada as a home base for your private investigations career and you’ll enjoy plenty of opportunities to earn a good living. According to a May 2019 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Nevada’s private investigators earned an average salary of $69,781 – nearly $20,000 above the national average salary.
Nevada is ranked fifth among the top-paying states in the nation for private investigators, so choose this state to kickstart your PI career and you’ll not only set yourself up for some really cool professional opportunities, you’ll also make bank in the process.
Private Investigator Salaries in Las Vegas
It comes as no surprise that some of the state’s top earners are found in the Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise metro area. According to the BLS, these pros (approximately 230 licensed PIs) earn an average annual salary of $60,950, with the top 10 percent earning $84,390.
*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 Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation 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.