Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in New Hampshire

New Hampshire State HouseYour grit, determination, and tenacity probably make you the perfect candidate for a career where late-night stakeouts are all in a day’s work and professional successes feel like personal victories. Whether you see yourself investigating fraudulent L&I claims, collecting evidence for divorce proceedings and custody cases, or helping desperate families find the whereabouts of missing loved ones, the Granite State offers a rock-solid foundation for building a business in private investigations.

According to the New Hampshire Economic & Labor Market Information Bureau, there’ll be more boots on the ground in the coming years, with the number of jobs in private investigations expected to grow by 8% between 2016 and 2026. But with only 270 PIs expected to be licensed here by 2026, you still won’t be running up against a lot of competition.

Meet Minimum Requirements in New Hampshire
Obtain the Necessary Experience and/or Education in New Hampshire
Complete New Hampshire Firearms Training
Apply for your New Hampshire License
Get to Work and Maintain your New Hampshire License

The New Hampshire Department of Safety, Division of State Police regulates and licenses private investigators, private investigator employees, and PI agencies in the state. ‘Private investigators’ in New Hampshire are defined as independent investigative professionals with no employees and who are not themselves employed by any PI agency.

According to the Department of Safety’s Permits and Licensing Unit for Security/Detectives, properly credentialed PIs are allowed to conduct investigations and clandestine surveillance related to unsolved crimes, insurance claims, civil litigation issues, missing persons or property, and the location of fugitives from justice.



Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements in New Hampshire

To qualify for a private investigator license in New Hampshire, you must meet a number of minimum requirements. You must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a resident of the United States
  • Have no felony, domestic violence, or abuse convictions
  • Have no misdemeanor convictions associated with theft, honesty, fraud, or sale or use of controlled substances



Step 2. Obtain the Necessary Experience and/or Education in New Hampshire

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Eligible candidates for private investigator licenses (private investigator employees are exempt from the education/experience requirements) in New Hampshire must possess one of the following:

  • At least 4 years of experience in one of the following positions:
    • As a director of security or senior officer of a company or corporation or licensed security service
    • As a full-time adjuster, risk manager, or claims investigator for an insurance carrier or adjusting company
    • As a full-time law enforcement officer for a county, state, federal, college or university, or municipal police department
  • At least 2 years of employment as a full-time investigator for a private investigative agency AND one of the following:
    • An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from an accredited college or university
    • Certification from the American Society for Industrial Security as a certified professional investigator
    • Certification from the National Association of Legal Investigators as a certified legal investigator
  • At least 4 years of employment as a full-time investigator for a licensed private investigator or agency
  • At least 4 years of experience as a full-time experience as a full-time firefighter and certification by the International Association of Arson Investigators

Certification by the American Society for Industrial Security in security operations and at least 2 years of experience.



Step 3. Complete Firearms Training in New Hampshire

If you want to carry a firearm as a private investigator in New Hampshire, you must complete one of the following firearms training courses (or equivalent approved courses):

  • Firearms instructor school through the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • National Rifle Association police firearms instructor course
  • Police standards and training council firearms instructor school
  • Firearms instructor school through SIG Sauer or Smith & Wesson



Step 4. Apply for your New Hampshire License

To apply for a private investigator license, you must complete the appropriate Application for Licensure:

And provide the following to the Department of Safety:

  • A two-year, $50,000 surety bond on an approved form
  • $150 application fee (or $500 application fee for a private investigator agency license)
  • $25 criminal record check fee
  • $10 background investigation fee
  • $26.50 fingerprinting fee (for armed status applicants only)

To schedule your fingerprints, you must make an appointment by calling 603-223-3873. You must make the appointment prior to dropping off your application for licensure.

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Note: All forms must be printed out, completed, and delivered in person (DO NOT mail forms) to:

Department of Safety

Room 106 (Permits and Licensing)

33 Hazen Drive

Concord, New Hampshire



Step 5. Network and Maintain your New Hampshire License

You may choose to seek membership in a professional association, such as the New Hampshire League of Investigators, as you can find a wealth of information regarding state investigative agencies, events, and networking groups.

All licenses for private investigators in New Hampshire must be renewed every 2 years, and individuals must complete the renewal application, pay the renewal fee and provide evidence that their surety bond is in force upon renewal.

Renewal fees are as follows:

  • Private Investigator Employee: $50 (plus $10 background investigation fee and $25 criminal record check)
  • Private Investigator: $150 50 (plus $10 background investigation fee and $25 criminal record check)
  • Private Investigator Agency: $500 50 (plus $10 background investigation fee and $25 criminal record check)

All armed private investigators in New Hampshire must meet the minimum requirements in the proficiency in the use of firearms every year, which include completing the practical police course or tactical revolver course (with a minimum score of 75 percent) and completing at least four hours of instruction, including:

  • Firearms techniques and safety
  • Laws on the use of deadly force
  • Moral and ethical use of force


Private Investigator Salary Information for New Hampshire*

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual median salary for private investigators in New Hampshire, as reported in May 2020 is estimated to be around $54,308 – that’s just above the national average of $53,331. But the real money comes to those whose hard work has earned them an impressively long client list and a solid reputation in the business. According to BLS stats, the top 10% earn an average of $98,930.

A license from the State Police of New Hampshire is required to become a private investigator or private detective in the state:

  • To earn licensure, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old, and you’ll undergo a criminal background check. 
  • Liability insurance in the form of a $50,000 surety bond is also required.

Before you can apply, you’ll also need to make sure you’ve stacked up quite a bit of experience by satisfying one of the following:

  • Two years of investigative experience with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in fire service or criminal justice
  • Four years as a law enforcement officer
  • Four years as an investigator
  • Four years as a firefighter and professional certification by The International Association of Arson Investigators

Private Investigator Salaries in Manchester

In Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest metro area, the annual average salary for private investigators comes in at $53,788, which is just below the state average and rivals the national average. The top earners in Manchester earn an average salary of $72,700.

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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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