For many of Wyoming’s retired cops, a career in private investigations is an exciting next step. Take, for instance, Jake Carlson, whose five years with the Casper Police Department ended in a shooting that nearly killed him, and Aaron Shatto, who spent nearly 25 years with the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office. In 2019, both of these former law enforcement officers made the decision to end their careers in law enforcement in favor of a life less stressful and dangerous. But with the investigative bug still in them still alive and well, both of these former law enforcement officers took to the field of private investigations.
|Complete Education and Training Requirements in Wyoming|
|Fill Out the Applicable Forms (for Cheyenne applicants)|
|Apply for Jobs in Wyoming with Investigation Agencies or Start Your Own Agency|
Following his retirement, Carlson began performing investigative work on a contract basis for the Casper Police Department, the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office, and the Mills Police Department. Thanks to a steady supply of work investigating backgrounds of potential hires, he recruited the help of a recently retired Shatto to join him in his PI agency, JDC Investigations LLC. While their work still includes providing background investigations for local law enforcement agencies, they’ve also branched out into other areas, which most recently included helping attorneys investigate civil cases and personal injury lawsuits.
According to the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, there were just 30 private investigators working throughout the state in 2019. In the least populated state in the nation, this number isn’t surprising. What, perhaps, is more telling is that projections reveal about 10 average annual openings every year and an increase in the number of jobs through 2021 in the Cowboy State, so getting your own PI agency up and running won’t be met with much competition here.
Entering the field of private investigations in Wyoming doesn’t come with the restrictions or requirements found in many other states. That’s because no state licensing requirements exist. However, if you’re working in Cheyenne, you’ll need a license to work as a private investigator within the city limits.
It’s important to keep in mind that PIs in Wyoming are subject to the same jurisdictional laws as other law enforcement personnel. Because of this, as you prepare to become a PI, you should make it a priority to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations of the state.
Step 1. Complete Education and Training Requirements in Wyoming
Private investigating is an extremely rewarding but also extremely challenging profession. Since it is also a very competitive profession, in order to be awarded the highest paying cases you must build a reputation as being the best at what you do and diligently promote yourself.
The best way to excel in private investigations is to establish a solid foundation of knowledge upon which to build your career. Many people who get into this particular line of work are ex-military or former law enforcement officers and as such already have a significant advantage. It is highly recommended that applicants who do not have experience in law enforcement obtain as much formal education as possible before starting out.
There are a number of criminal justice and legal studies programs offered at universities and community colleges in Wyoming as well as online. Check community colleges in your area, as well as online colleges and universities, to see if they offer any courses that would be beneficial to your career as a private investigator.
It is strongly recommended that you take on an apprenticeship role with an experienced, and preferably licensed, private investigator or investigation agency in Wyoming before applying for a license.
Step 2. Fill Out the Applicable Forms (for Cheyenne applicants)
You can find the applicable application form online.
You will also need to make an appointment to have your fingerprints taken. In Cheyenne, the hours for fingerprinting are on Tuesday from 8:30AM until Noon and 1:00PM until 5:00PM and on Thursday from 8:30AM until Noon. When getting your fingerprints taken you must have your completed application form, a valid photo I.D., the $15.00 city fee for fingerprints and ID cards, and the $15.00 state fee. Payments for the latter are only accepted in cash. Call 307-637-6535 or 307-637-6508 to make an appointment.
Step 3. Apply for Jobs in Wyoming with Investigation Agencies or Start Your Own Agency
Search for investigation agency jobs in your area. Some of the top agencies in Wyoming include:
- Associated Investigation LTD – Laramie
- SJ Miller Associates LLC – Statewide
- Day and Night Process Serving LLP – Cheyenne
- Black Hills Security – Gillette
If you live in a bigger city the jobs may be easier to find than if you live in a rural community. If you believe, however, that there is a demand for private investigative services in a smaller town, or if you would like to compete with established agencies in Wyoming’s major cities, then you may consider starting your own agency.
Private Investigator Salary Information for Wyoming*
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide salary stats for Wyoming. However, the average salaries for PIs in the neighboring states of Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Utah can shed light on what you can expect to earn as a PI in Wyoming. The following BLS stats from May 2019 highlight the median-top 10% salary range for PIs in these states:
- Idaho: $60,490-$83,140
- Nebraska: $41,210-$64,610
- South Dakota: $45,840-$67,020
- Utah: $51,570-$118,280
*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 Wyoming Department of Workforce Services 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.