Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Rhode Island

Rhode Island flag at sunrise

Within the borders of a state known for its tiny footprint are a lot of big opportunities for anybody who’s got the right combination of skills and character it takes to be a private investigator. What you’ll uncover in this line of work isn’t always pretty, but sometimes closing a case brings a whole different kind of closure to the clients you work for.

PIs aren’t interested in making headlines, as a matter of fact, it can be bad for businesses to have a name and face people recognize from the 6 o’clock news, but sometimes the work we do is enough to get the media interested. So when the press went nuts in 2020 after the Moses Brown School in Providence hired investigators to uncover abuse that occurred over a decades-long period from the 1950s to the 1980s, the PIs on the case took the paparazzi with a grain of salt. In this line of work, even if you can’t stand all the attention, you can always feel good knowing the work you did meant something.

 

The state of Rhode Island defines a private investigator as a person who has been hired to conduct investigations and clandestine surveillance related to inquiries into unsolved crimes, the search for stolen or lost property, and the search for missing persons.

And it just takes a handful of steps to qualify for a license.

Meet Rhode Island Requirements to Obtain a License
Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in Rhode Island
Submit your Rhode Island Application
Start Work as a Private Investigator in Rhode Island

 


 

Step 1.  Meet the Rhode Island Requirements to Obtain a License

There are several requirements that you must meet before you can apply for a license to be a private investigator in Rhode Island.  They include the following:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Not have had any previous PI license revoked or have been denied a license
  • Not have been declared incompetent because of mental disease or defect
  • Be of good moral character
  • Not suffer from narcotics or alcohol addiction (ok if sober and recovery period completed)
  • Have one of the following:
    • Five years experience as a law enforcement investigator or police officer
    • A criminal justice degree from an accredited university or college
    • Five years of employment as an investigator for a private detective
    • Equivalent training or experience

 


 

Step 2.  Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in Rhode Island

If you are not already a law enforcement official, you will need to have either a criminal justice degree or a substantial amount of experience working in the field of private security.  You can obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from schools in cities such as Providence, Warwick, or East Greenwich. Another option is to seek training from the online schools that offer this type of education.

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In addition to fulfilling a requirement, formal training in criminal justice should help you as you navigate the legal system and improve your analytical skills.

 


 

Step 3.  Submit Your Rhode Island Application

You will have to contact your local city or county to find out the particulars of applying in your jurisdiction. The state of Rhode Island requires that you provide the following along with your application:

  • $150 license fee
  • A surety bond for $5,000

 


 

Step 4.  Start Work as a Private Investigator in Rhode Island

Once your license has been granted, the licensing authority will send you an identification card to carry as you go about your work. You may want to join the Licensed Private Detectives Association of Rhode Island. They offer informational meetings and opportunities to network with fellow private investigators throughout the state.

There are a number of different types of jobs available to a licensed private investigator.  Some PIs work for individuals, while others work for insurance companies to investigate suspicious claims.  Yet others work for criminal or civil attorneys to assist them with their cases.

Your license will expire in one year, and you will have to renew it at least thirty days before its expiration date. There is a $150 fee to renew it. You will be able to keep working while your renewal is pending.

The occupation of private investigation is expected to grow by over 20% nationally in the period from 2010 to 2020. The average annual salaries for these professionals in Rhode Island are available from Indeed.com for September 2013:

  • Private investigator:  $39,000
  • Private detective:  $26,000

 


 

Private Investigator Salary Information for Rhode Island

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has provided 2012 salary information for the Norwich-New London area. The annual mean salary was $44,880, while experienced professionals made $78,550 a year.

 

As with most states, a license is required to work as a private investigator in Rhode Island. In contrast to most, though, licenses are issued at the county or municipal level.  That state does require that applicants have liability insurance in the form of a $5,000 surety bond.

The state of Rhode Island requires a substantial amount of experience or training to be able to apply to be a private investigator.  One of the following is required:

  • Being a law enforcement officer or investigator for 5 years
  • Having a criminal justice degree
  • Being employed as an investigator for a private detective for 5 years
  • Having equivalent training or experience

Once a license has been obtained, it is good for one year.

 


 

Private Investigator Salary Information for Rhode Island*

Careers in private investigations in Rhode Island often come with a pretty impressive income. In fact, according to May 2020 statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual average salary for PIs in Rhode Island was $60,736 – nearly $7,000 above the national average. And among those PIs with long client lists and their share of success stories, the average salary jumps to $90,000 – a cool $30,000 above the state average.

As with most states, a license is required to work as a private investigator in Rhode Island.  In contrast to most, though, licenses are issued at the county or municipal level. The state does require that applicants have liability insurance in the form of a $5,000 surety bond.

To qualify for licensure in Rhode Island, you’ll need to come to the table with significant experience, which includes meeting one of the following:

  • At least 5 years of law enforcement officer or investigator experience
  • Criminal justice degree
  • At least 5 years of experience as an investigator for a private detective
  • Equivalent training or experience

Private Investigator Salaries in Providence

In 2019, the following BLS stats reveal the median-top 10% salary range for PIs in the Providence metro area:

Providence: $59,490-$88,810 (approximately 50 licensed PIs)

The 2020 BLS stats reveal the median salary of the MSA including parts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts Providence-Warwick, earned a median salary of around $60,570.

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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