• Find A Program

Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in South Dakota

If you wish to become a private investigator in South Dakota, these are the steps you need to take:

Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in South Dakota
Set up your Business in South Dakota
Obtain a South Dakota Sales Tax License
Start Work as a Private Investigator in South Dakota

Private investigators obtain information about people or businesses for clients ranging from attorneys to insurance companies.  The business of being a PI can include the following types of investigations, among others:

  • Providing information for defense attorneys to prepare their case
  • Examining whether potential investors are reliable
  • Determining whether people on workman’s compensation are really disabled
  • Investigating a spouse to see whether the person is involved in an infidelity

The state of South Dakota does not license private investigators.  If you will be working independently, you will need to establish yourself as a business.  You will also need to obtain a sales tax license and check with your city and county to see if there are any local ordinances that you would need to follow.



Step 1.  Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in South Dakota

Although there are no stated education and training requirements to become a private investigator in South Dakota, you will need strong analytical skills and a working knowledge of the legal system.  You can obtain these skills by working as an employee for a detective agency or by obtaining a degree in criminal justice.

An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice would strengthen your analytical skills and give you a firm grounding in the state and federal legal system.  You can obtain this type of training from schools located in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Yankton, Vermillion, and Mitchell.  In addition, you can obtain criminal justice degrees from one of the many online schools that offer degrees in this field.



Step 2.  Set up Your Business in South Dakota

If you plan on working alone as a private investigator, you will need to set up an independent PI agency business.  You should consult with a tax specialist to determine if you want to have a sole proprietorship or incorporate as an LLC.

There are advantages to incorporating.  If someone were to sue you over the course of your investigations, your personal assets would be protected.  This is not the case if you are the sole proprietor.

If you decide to name your company as something other than your name, you will need to register the fictitious name:

  • Sole proprietors:  register with the county Register of Deeds
  • Corporations:  register and start your business process with the Office of the South Dakota Secretary of State

Once your business has been approved by the state, you will need to obtain a federal tax ID number from the IRS if you have incorporated the business.  This is not necessary for sole proprietors.  You will also need to register with the Unemployment Insurance Tax Unit.



Step 3.  Obtain a South Dakota Sales Tax License

Your services as a private investigator fall under the Department of Revenue’s Business Tax Division’s Sales and Service Tax License.  You will not need to worry about this if you are an employee, but if you have established yourself as a principal of a new PI agency business, you will need to charge sales tax.

The state of South Dakota charges a 4% tax on all of the services you provide.  You will need to obtain a license to charge sales tax from the South Dakota Department of Revenue.  In addition, approximately 53% of the municipalities in the state have an additional tax.



Step 4.  Start Work as a Private Investigator in South Dakota

Once you have obtained your sales tax license and checked with your city or county to make sure you have complied with any local rules, you can start work as a private investigator.

If you want to work for a detective agency, there are several prominent ones that sometimes offer jobs to aspiring private investigators in South Dakota:

  • Executive Services Consultants
  • Investigative Services of Nebraska/South Dakota/Iowa
  • South Dakota Private Investigators
  • Stealth Investigative Agency



Private Investigator Salary Information for South Dakota

South Dakota is a good state in which to find employment as a private investigator or private detective.  The state had the second highest concentration of these types of jobs per population in the country according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

One hundred and sixty private investigators were employed in South Dakota in 2012, and their ranks are expected to swell by 15.6% between 2010 and 2020 according to the state’s occupational employment projections.

The BLS has provided information on the salaries of private investigators in South Dakota in 2012.  They earned an average salary of $33,720, while those with experience who were in the top tenth percentile made $59,340 per year.

It is relatively easy to become a private investigator in South Dakota, since there are no licensing requirements for private investigators.  Aspiring PIs should be prepared to establish themselves as sole proprietors or to incorporate and then obtain a business license.

A number of different types of jobs are available for private investigators.  The largest group of employers is typically investigative and security firms.  These professionals also work for insurance companies, helping them to prevent fraud in their worker’s compensation policies.

Many private investigators work for stores helping them to minimize their losses from shoplifters or theft from employees.  Local and state governments employ PIs to perform background checks on potential employees and license holders.

A smaller percentage of private investigators work in the more lucrative fields of the manufacturing of aerospace components or medical devices.  They help to protect trade secrets.

Individuals are a common source of employment for PIs.  Before making substantial investments, the potential investors often want to ensure that their deposits are being made with an ethical person.  Other individuals hire PIs for more personal matters, such as investigating a spouse’s potential infidelity or helping them with child custody situations.

Back to Top