Two types of licenses are provided: one for unarmed and one for armed private investigators. Here are the steps involved in becoming a private investigator in Oklahoma:
Private investigators provide information for clients that range from individuals to insurance companies. In Oklahoma, the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) licenses private investigators according to the regulations of the Oklahoma Security Guard and Private Investigator Act.
Step 1. Meet Oklahoma Requirements to Obtain a License
You must meet some basic requirements to be able to apply for a private investigator’s license in Oklahoma. They include the following:
- Be at least 18 years old (21 years old for an armed license)
- Be a U.S. citizen or an alien who is legally residing in the country
- Be of good moral character
- Have not been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude or a felony*
*There is a list of several dozen crimes that you must not have committed on page 80 (89 in the pdf) in Appendix A of the 2013 CLEET Rules of the private security industry.
Step 2. Obtain the Necessary Training in Oklahoma
Oklahoma has very specific training requirements that you have to follow to receive your PI license. You will need to take the following phases of training:
- Unarmed: Phases I (20 hours) and III (35 hours)
- Armed: Phases I (20 hours) and III (35 hours), and IV (32 hours)
There is a list of approved schools that offer training in these phases in Oklahoma.
If you have equivalent experience, you may be able to get this training requirement waived. This may apply to the following professions:
- Oklahoma Correctional Officers
- Oklahoma Peace Officers
- Oklahoma Reserve Officers
- Military Police
- Out of state Police Officers (full time)
- Private investigators or security guards
- Employed full time for one year during the past three years
The one exception is firearms training. The requirement for firearms training cannot be waived.
Step 3. Submit your Oklahoma Application
When you first apply for your license, you will need to provide a number of items along with your application. You must submit the following:
- Application (including notarized signature)
- Arrest history: letter of no record or certified court judgment and sentence
- Fingerprint cards (usually available from your local Sheriff’s Office or Police Department)
- Photographs (2 current passport sized or 3 for armed licenses)
- Record checks
- Local Police Department
- Sheriff Department
- Proof of bond/insurance or letter of employment
- Documented proof of experience or comparable training
- Fee made out to CLEET (no personal checks; cash only at offices)
- Unarmed PI: $91
- Armed PI: $141
- Agency application (if self-employed)
Applicants for an armed license have additional requirements:
- Passage of a psychological evaluation from a licensed psychologist
- Certification of firearms training
If you do not have the required training, but you are employed as a trainee or full time investigator at an agency, you can apply for a conditional license that is good for 180 days. During that time, you will have to obtain the required training. The cost of a conditional license is the same as for a regular one.
Step 4. Take the Oklahoma Examination
As part of your application process, you will have to take an online examination that is provided by CLEET. The fee for this exam is $25. You can take it at any one of several dozen locations throughout Oklahoma. The tests start at 9 AM, and you will have to achieve a score of 70% to pass it.
Step 5. Start Work as a Private Investigator in Oklahoma
Now that you have passed your exam, the state will send you a license that you are a bona fide private investigator. You will need to carry this card on you at all times while you are working as a PI and be prepared to present it to a law enforcement officer or CLEET representative.
If you change your name, telephone number or address, you will need to notify the Council. This must be within ten days for changes of your phone number and address.
When you are self-employed, you will need to have your own liability insurance or surety bond provided by a company that has a license to do business in the state.
In addition, you may want to join the Oklahoma Private Investigators Association (OPIA) that provides networking opportunities throughout the state. This can provide opportunities for jobs.
Step 6. Fulfill your Continuing Education Requirement in Oklahoma
Both armed and unarmed private investigators are required by the state of Oklahoma to get 16 hours of continuing education a year to renew your license. Your initial training to get your license will suffice for your first year. After that, you have a number of options for your training.
One option is to get training in your field such as formal criminal justice training. One credit hour will count for 15 hours of your mandated training. You can take such courses from instate schools or online courses that offer options in criminal justice.
Another option is to obtain training from established entities such as the National Legal Association or the Oklahoma Bar Association. You will be granted one hour of credit for each hour of training, provided that the training directly relates to your work as a private investigator.
Your final option is to take part in CLEET seminars, conferences, or accredited schools. You will also receive one hour of credit for training if you obtain your training in this manner. OPIA seminars can also count towards this continuing education requirement.
Private Investigator Salary Information for Oklahoma
The field of private investigation is growing in Oklahoma, and the state’s Employment Security Commission estimates the job growth of private investigators to be 22.3% in the period from 2008 to 2018. These professionals earned a median salary of $36,300 a year in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Experienced private investigators earned nearly double that. The average salary of those in the top tenth percentile was $64,080.
Many of the private investigator and private detective jobs in Oklahoma are concentrated in the southeastern nonmetropolitan part of the state. In 2012, 44% of the state’s PIs were located in this area according to the BLS. This area has the third highest level of employment and concentration of jobs of any nonmetropolitan area in the country. It also has the third highest wages of all of the nonmetropolitan areas that were analyzed by the BLS.
To become a private investigator in Oklahoma, a license from the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) is required. Investigators must be at least 21 years old if they want to apply for an armed license or 18 years old for a regular license.
Specific training is required to get a license in Oklahoma. Applicants who have worked as correctional, peace, or reserve officers in the state may be able to get this requirement waived. This is also true for applicants who have a year’s full-time work experience as a private investigator or security guard.
Applicants who will be working independently are required to have proof of liability insurance. CLEET also requires that applicants pass an online exam as part of their application process.
Those who are applying for an armed license have to pass a psychological exam and have a certification that they have been trained in the use of firearms.
The BLS provides salary information on the PIs who were licensed and employed in Oklahoma in 2012. A breakdown of annual and hourly salaries for the nonmetropolitan area of southeast Oklahoma is listed in the following table.
Private Investigation Salaries in Oklahoma