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How To Become a Private Investigator by State

Alabama

Since August 2013, the state requires PI to get license from APIB or Alabama Private Investigation Board. To become a PI in Alabama, read through.

The applicant should meet the licensure’s minimum requirements, such as 21 years of age and above, no criminal records (moral turpitude), no records from court or any other capable jurisdiction of incompetency due to mental diseases or defects, has not been convicted of any felony crime/s. They need to pass the examination managed by the APIB

After passing the exam, you can now apply for a license particularly for an Alabama Private Investigator, and start looking for a job here.

Maintain and renew your license as it expires every 2 years, April 30th of even numbered years.

Alaska

The state does not require training or licensing other than the regular business license. Though, Fairbanks and Anchorage requires special licenses, so if you are planning to work for the entire State, follow the guidelines below.

Anyone can get a business license in Alaska for a $50.00 annual fee (for senior citizens: $25.00). Make sure that the name of the business is unique to avoid re-application due to duplication.

Applicants must meet requirements for PI license in Fairbanks and Anchorage.

For Fairbanks, the applicant must be a U.S. Citizen, no convictions of felony, has a valid driver’s license, has good moral character, must secure surety bond of $1000 and pass background check for Criminal cases

For Anchorage, applicant must be 18 years old and above, submit information about work history, secure Alaska business license and notarized applications.

There is no specific education requirement to get a license, but since the job requires deep knowledge about courtroom procedures, criminal justice system, relevant laws and the like, education to perform the work is necessary.

Once all of the above is satisfied and license is secured, you can start to apply for a job as a PI.

Arizona

To become a PI in Arizona, applicant must meet Arizona Application requirements like, must be 18 years old and above, a legal resident or U.S. citizen, no felony convictions and accusations, no offense of sex related case/s, he or she is not on probation or parole, there is no incidence of trying to act/work as a private investigator without license, no convictions of misdemeanor case for the last 5 years for fraud, theft, violent acts, narcotics violations or sexual misconduct

The applicant must acquire bachelors or associate’s degree in any subjects related to criminal justice. To get a license, you must have three years experience performing investigative work.

Now that you accomplished all of the above you can apply for a PI license. You can download the form at the website of the Department of Public Safety or request a form from DPS.

If your fingerprints are not available on file, you must have it for $22 fee.

Fees to pay are a one-time application fee of $250 and license fee of $400.

Arkansas

A valid license from Arkansas State Police Regulating Services Division is required to work as a PI in the state. To get license, applicant must be a legal resident or U.S. citizen, no Class A misdemeanor convictions or felony, zero history of immoral or violent behavior, applicant must pass background checking and be fingerprinted.

Other than the requirements mentioned above, you have to work side by side by a PI licensed in Arkansas for 2 years.

Then after, the applicant should pass the private investigator examination in Arkansas

Once you pass and get 70%, submit your application in Arkansas State Police Regulatory Services Division with requirements such as confirmation of 2 years experience from a licensed PI, passing examination scores, if not a US citizen, proof of your legal residency, money order or check for license fee of $450, fingerprint cards and background checking fee of $38.50.

California

It is not easy to become a licensed PI in California, as you must acquire stipulated education/experience in California. The training, education and experience is necessary to become a PI in California. Education and training for a paid 6000 hours of investigative work, for a duration of 3 years, or 2000 hours/year or paid 5000 hours of investigative work for a duration of 2 years and 6 months with an Associate’s degree in police science, law or criminal justice or paid 4000 hours of investigative work for a duration of 2 years with bachelor’s degree in police science or law.

It is required for a PI license applicant to fill out the Live Scan Fingerprint Application.

The PI license applications are only for legal residents and U.S. citizens, and 18 years old and above. The packet to submit must include, application form, Certificate to support the experience acquired, personal identification form, 2 passport type photos, Live Scan receipt, money order or check for $50

Packet should be mailed to respective drop box.

Colorado

In this state licensing falls in the jurisdiction of DORA or Department of Regulatory Agencies, Office of Private Investigator Licensure. Colorado is the first in the United States to institute PIs to get license.

Getting a degree in fields like criminal justice is required to ensure they understand the process of investigation.  There are 2 successive levels for Colorado licenses PI, and their requirements are different, for level 1, applicant must be 21 years of age and above, a legal resident of the US if not a US citizen, and pass the Colorado Jurisprudence Exam.

For level 2, applicant must furnish all from the level 1 requirements, plus minimum investigative work experience of 4,000 hours, the minimum, as a private investigator or with federal law enforcement agencies or a local, state and Colorado Office of Private Investigator Licensure director may stipulate other college education as specified in the Colorado Revised Statute 12 – 58.5 – 106.

The requirements are easily met by former military police officers or police detectives.

Whether you are level one or level 2 PI license applicant, it is required that you pass the Colorado PI Jurisprudence Examination online.

In case the taker fails, he/she should wait for 5 days for a retake. After passing the examination, you can submit online application together with jurisprudence exam passing result report, license application fee of $330 and Surety affidavit.

PIs in Colorado are required to renew their license every 31st of May of every year. If the license was acquired 120 days before the renewing date, licenses should be renewed 31st of May of the following year.

Connecticut

The Connecticut State Police, under the unit of Special Licensing & Firearms, handles PI licensing in the state. To become a private investigator in Connecticut, following these guidelines is necessary.

PI in Connecticut should be able to meet the state’s fundamental requirements, such as 25 years of age and above, possess good/excellent moral character, minimum of 5 years experience as full time investigator, otherwise 10 years experience as municipal or state police officer, has no records of felony convictions, no convictions of misdemeanor for 7 years, no offense involving any moral turpitude, can post a performance surety bond of $10000 and applicant should get general liability insurance worth $300000.

Training in any work related to the discipline as private detective for a year, as per the requirement of the PI licensure in the state.

Getting courses related to the field can help a PI become successful in getting a license in Connecticut.

For PI license experience requirement, full time work experience/s like 5 years experience as licensed or registered PI in a different jurisdiction or 5 years operating a detective agency or 5 years experience working in the state, federal or local government as investigator or 5 years working as a detective in state, federal or local police department or 5 years of investigative experience in a recognized industry or ten years of working experience as a police officer in a state, federal or local police department.

Once you have completed all the above requirements, you are now ready to apply for a license, by downloading forms online, completing documents and sending it to the Connecticut State Police.

After documentation and application packet are submitted and reviewed, you will receive a call for oral interview/s. Before getting a license, the insurance and bond should be completed.

Columbia

Dreaming to become a private investigator in the District of Columbia, you must meet initial requirements for PI licensure, like 18 years of age and older, a resident of the state, pass criminal history review and background check, has financial capability to keep and file in force of at least $5000 license bond, has no conviction of felony on record, has a firm employment offer from a private detective agency, licensed in the District of Columbia.

There is actually no educational requirement for such license, other than GED or high school diploma, but it is of massive help when acquiring license as a private investigator.

Submit supporting documentation and licensing application to MPD or Metropolitan Police Department, calling them at their hotline, 202 671 0500 to get necessary forms, including PI license application form is recommended.

You need to present application form from your employer/s, signed by authorized representative of the company or the employer him/herself, proving that you were or you are employed, or have an existing employment offer coming from them. Application should be brought to the SOMB or Security Officer Management Branch, including any of your ID cards, like driver’s license.

Included on the application are notarized affidavit form issued by SOMB, stating applicant’s past employment/s, arrest history and residences, final court disposition copies, for charges ( if any) on the arrest record, $206  license fee to be paid through certified check, money order or cashier’s check, passport sized, colored photos (2 pcs), birth certificate copy from the Statistics Office from state you were born, documents that state name changes (divorce decrees, adoption papers and marriage certificates), and if applicable, copy of military separation.

Your fingerprinting will be scheduled, and background checking will be done (usually takes 2 weeks). Once everything is complete and you successfully passed background screening, PI license will be issued.

Delaware

How to become a licensed Private Investigator in Delaware? You must follow the guidelines below.

The applicant must meet licensure criteria in Delaware, such as 21 years of age and older, hired or received firm employment offer from a private investigative agency, no felony conviction, no misdemeanor conviction involving moral turpitude, theft or drug offenses, and no convictions of assault III for the past 3 years

You must also satisfy experiential and training qualifications to get license as a PI in Delaware. For training and education, there is no formal requirement to get a license in Delaware, except to those who want firearms permit. Education in any field related to criminal justice can help a lot in increasing PI chances to be successful in this field.

For experience on the other hand, there is no specific experience required to get a PI license in Delaware, but the applicant must be employed or has an outstanding offer for employment from a private investigative agency licensed in Delaware.

After completion of the above requirements, you can submit to the State Police in Delaware your supporting documentation and licensing application, including accomplished Private Security Employee and Private Investigative application, $69 using a credit card or cash etc, go to authorized locations (SBI/Professional Licensing) for  photos and fingerprints to be taken and they will let you know if there are additional documentations you must submit. You are only given 30 days to complete and submit them

Once your ID is available, SBI will give you a call and will let you know where to get your license

Florida

If you want to work as a PI in Idaho, there is important information you should consider. And to start, these are the basic qualifications you must meet 18 years of age and older, legal resident or a U.S. citizen, no criminal history, has good moral character, no mental illness history, never used illegal drugs, no alcoholism issue and has 2 years experience related to private investigative roles.

After verifying that applicant has the basic requirements stated above, it is important that he completes training and experience required. For training, applicant for the Class CC PI license needs to have 2 years experience, some applicants choose to apply Class CC PI licensure intern first, before applying for this kind of license, he has to complete at the least, 40 hours of professional PI training offered by selected, accredited schools.

The training can provide applicants with a diploma, but some pursue college degrees to maximize their chance to succeed in this field.  

Once training is completed and the applicant received intern license, he can start to work under a Florida licensed PI sponsorship. Part of the requirements for Class C PI is acquiring 2 solid years of private investigative experience.

Once the minimum requirements, requirements and training are met, taking the examination is next, the fee to take the examination is $100 and duration of the exam is about 2 hours. Results will be mailed to the applicant in 2 to 4 weeks after examination.

After applicant passes the examination, he can apply for the Class C licensure. And other requirements he has to submit are complete Application for the Class C PI license, include passport sized, colored photo of his, include a notarized and signed Affidavit of Experience, certificate to confirm he passed the exam, proof of educational and/or training requirement completion, like transcript, diploma etc, set of his fingerprints, he also has to include money order or check payable to Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worth $167.

Mail everything at PO BOX 9100, Tallahassee, FL 32315 to receive license.

Georgia

If you want to become a private investigator in Georgia, you must first decide on the route you want to pursue as a PI in Georgia. First route is working as a PI for someone else, and the second route is working for yourself.

If what you want is working for an established private investigative agency, all you need is to meet all the requirements & your employer/company will register you to the Board of Private Detective & Security Agencies.

If what you plan is working for yourself, this is a bit more complicated and expensive at the same time. Working for yourself necessitates a license & years of experience either in private investigations or law enforcement, or a degree in university.

The fees to pay include exam fee, $125, application fee, $400, and/or any of the ff: $1,000,000 liability insurance, $25,000 bind or $50,000 or more net worth.

Moving on some basic requirements to meet are 18 years of age and above, good moral character and high integrity, permanent resident or U.S. citizen, no conviction/s for crimes of moral turpitudes or crimes involving weapon/s, and has never committed any act of dishonesty or fraud.

Completing a basic training course is required to become a PI in Georgia. You can complete the course within 6 months after hired, and course should be from a state certified/approved provider and course includes: Classroom instruction for 70 hours that include, surveillance, suspect and witness interviewing, investigation in a crime scene, seizure and search, criminal law and industry history.

Your employer can complete the registration form for your employment, submitting the following is required: fingerprint and consent for your background investigation, both are administered by Cogent Services Gaps. And pay online application is worth $52.75 and additional requirements are as follow: Verification Code: 920240Z, ORI Number: GA920240Z and proof to verify that you completed private detective certification classes. If not, this should be completed 90 days after getting hired)

The detective company is also obliged to pay registration fee of $45.

Hawaii

If you choose Hawaii as the state you will work on as a PI, it is important that you read through the following information.
Hawaii’s basic qualifications should be met to ensure you are qualified to get a license. Basic qualifications are, 18 years of age and older, have no psychiatric and psychological disorders that would directly impact your capability to conduct the responsibilities of a PI negatively, no convictions for any crimes that could reflect on you negatively while working as a PI, and have financial and personal history of truthfulness, honesty and equality.

There are experience and education requirements in the state to follow before applying for a license. To get in a PI school in Hawaii, you are mandated to complete high school (or equivalent). Along with it is 4 years experience working on any of these fields, investigator in a government, at any level (city, county, state or federal), law or attorney firm investigator, and PI working under strict supervision of a licensed private investigator.

Just like to almost all states, there is no strict requirement with education. But, completing a course related to private investigative field can give PI with higher advantage.

In the event you failed the 4 year work experience requirement, you can decide to work under a PI supervision. You have to complete background check and fingerprint with Fieldprint, Inc for $64. While the hiring agency in turn needs to accomplish the Completion of the minimum requirement, register you to Board of Private Detectives and Guards two times a year, 31st of July and 31st of January.

Idaho

Idaho is one out of the 6 states in the US that does not require PI license. Some thought that it is a good news, but actually, that is not the case. As a private investigator, responsibilities are massive, hence despite the fact that a PI needs no license in Idaho, education and training is still needed.

Make yourself ready for the job

It is necessary that you acquire enough education and training to perform the job as a private investigator in Idaho. Finishing a course can help you a lot to be successful in the industry.  

It is necessary that you know not only the basic of performing personal investigative jobs but far beyond that.

Illinois

If you have dreams of becoming a private investigator in Illinois, getting a license is necessary. First you have to determine the application route you want to pursue in IL. Applying for a license in Illinois is based on the two set of qualifications, experience and experience and education.

After finishing the required training, passing the exam, completing all other materials for applications and getting a license, you have the option to consider working for a PI, be a sole proprietor, getting into a private investigator partnership, creating a private investigator corporation and creating a private investigator LLC.

If the license exam you are applying for is based on experience you have to submit proof that you work 3 of the past 5 years to any of the ff field: Full time PI, full time investigator to any of the following fields: City, county, state, or federal law enforcement department, Public Defender’s or State Attorney’s office or military police.

For based on experience and education, you can also qualify for a license if you meet PI school requirements. An associate’s degree in the field of law enforcement or any fields related to that can replace 1 year of experience requirement mentioned above. Bachelor’s degree on the other hand can replace 2 years of experience requirement mentioned above.

Some other requirements, you must meet are, 21 years of age and above, completely no felony convictions, if there is any, it should happen 10 years back, no sex offender case registered, good moral character, be physically and psychologically fit for duties as a PI and no alcoholic or narcotic addiction.

20 hour training course completion is necessary. And before or 30 days after being hired, completing the private detective course is a must. The course is led by a highly qualified instructor.

Within 6 months of being employed you must complete additional 8 hours of training in pertinent subject/s. Basic training certification should be submitted as proof of training completion.

Other than the requirements stated above, you also have to submit the following to the Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation (agency issuing license): criminal background checking, proof of your 1,000,000 liability insurance, examination fee of $291, once eligible, you will be informed of the fee and authorization of background and fingerprints with the State Police.

As part of your application, you must register to take the PI exam. The exam is administered by the Continental Testing Services, a private vendor. They will provide study guide and practice test and you must know the law in Illinois regulating PIs.

Once you passed the exam, you can apply for your license and start working as a PI.

Indiana

Indiana does not provide license to individual private investigators, only to agencies. Hence to become licensed in private detective jobs, they need to apply for firm application instead. To get license, you have to make sure you meet Indiana’s Basic Qualifications, such as 21 years old and above, have 2 years of working experience (40,000 hours) in the security or investigation field; otherwise meet the required education equivalent, get liability insurance for at the least $100,000, and states that Indiana as an additional insured, no convictions of crimes or felonies that could directly bear on your capability to work as a private investigator and not currently on parole or probation.

Since 2 year experience is part of the requirement, working with a licensed PI is what private investigators aspiring for a license do. In exchange of the 2 year work experience, an aspiring PI may get a 4 year degree in the field of criminal justice instead.

Now that you accomplished all the requirements on the above, you can apply for a firm application.

Requirements for application are 2 years of work experience and/or educational requirement, fingerprint and criminal background check, liability insurance of at the least $100,000, and application fee of $300.

After completion of the requirement and receiving license, you can start to look for a job as a PI.

Iowa

To become a licensed private investigator in Iowa, it is imperative that you meet the minimum requirements in Iowa, not currently a peace officer, like police officer, sheriff’s deputy and the like, 18 years of age and above, no aggravated felony or misdemeanor convictions, has good moral character, never been convicted guilty of crime/s related to fraud or moral turpitude, no history of illegally carrying weapons or violence and not currently addicted to drugs or alcohol.

There is no training and educational requirement to get a license in Iowa, but there are good reasons why you have to consider pursuing certification, training classes and/or a degree in related fields, like future career advancements, wider knowledge about the job and higher competency about the job.

Now that all basic requirements are satisfied, you can apply for a private investigator licensure in Iowa. Include other requirements to your application, such as, 2 fingerprint cards, licensing, ID card and fingerprinting fee of $140, at the least $5000 surety bond and liability insurance for subsequent consequences, wrongdoings and accidents

PI license will expire in 2 years, renewing 30 days before the expiration date is required to keep license valid.

Kansas

To become a licensed private investigator in Kansas, it is necessary that you meet requirements set by Kansas like, 21 years of age and older, a citizen of the U.S., zero felony convictions, PI applicant must not have misdemeanor convictions for the past ten years, should be mentally competent to perform duties of a PI and good moral character.

Another requirement is high school diploma or a GED equivalency. A PI can also get degree programs, as this can help him/her become more successful in the private investigative field.

The form to be filled out is the same when you are planning to work for an agency or you are putting up a private investigative business, only that you have to accomplish another form for business.

For initial application, applicant must prepare, passing the Private Detective Licensing Act examination, and $100,000 to any of the following: State Treasurer cash deposit, general insurance liability covering bodily injury due to errors, omissions, or negligence, or property damage

Submit application to the Attorney General in Kansas. And complete the application form, proof of passing the examination, authorization to perform background investigation, fingerprint cards, proof of insurance coverage, cash deposit or surety bond, education proof, 5 personal references who know you for 5 years or more, must be U.S. citizens. Application fee: $100 for associate of a private investigator agency, a partner or the owner; $250 for agencies or working independently.

Maintaining your license by renewing every 2 years is necessary.

Kentucky

If you want to become a private investigator in Kentucky, getting a license is necessary. And you should meet the initial requirements set by the state of Kentucky, such as 21 years of age and older, good moral character, lawful resident or a U.S. citizen, in case you are convicted of felony, you must wait 10 years after you completed the sentence before applying for a license, there is no conviction of crimes involving moral turpitude or dishonesty for the past 5 years, for a military veteran, he/she should not have been discharged dishonorably while serving, in good mental capacity, zero misdemeanor or any higher convictions in the last 3 years for crimes that involve controlled substances, he or she should not be in a program or facility due to substance abuse for the last 3 years, and/or not habitually or chronically using drugs or alcohol.

Kentucky only requires PI to finish high school or equivalent, but if you want to be more attractive and reliable in the field, finishing a degree or an academic certification is a good idea.

Submit application to Kentucky Board of Licensure for PI license. For individual application, the requirements and fees should be completed such as, application fee of $100, license fee of $300, licensing request fee of $20, combined single limit liability insurance of $250,000 – in the event that the applicant is solely employed by a lawyer, this isn’t required, background check for criminal history with 3 fingerprint cards fee: $36.50, and signed release for psychological and medical records.

Passing the PI exam is necessary to acquire a license. Examination may include, federal and state constitutional principles, pertinent court decision/s that have beating on liabilities, laws regarding assault, computer access, seizure, search and assault.

Louisiana

If you consider working in Louisiana as a private investigator, it is necessary that you meet Louisiana’s minimum requirements, such as 18 years of age and above, must be authorized to work in U.S. or a U.S. citizen, no conviction of crime/s of felonies or moral turpitude, and not addicted to drugs or alcohol.

There is no strict educational requirement to become a PI in Louisiana but needless to say, getting education relevant and related to private investigative jobs can help one get employment easy and fast.

Part of the requirement to get a PI license in Louisiana is accomplishing a basic training course and after that, passing the examination. The training must be attained at an approved agency. Training length should be at the least, 40 hours.

To be able to pass the exam, PI should get 75% score at the least and pay the $50 fee.

There are different licenses in Louisiana, Apprentice license where apprentice should finish the 40 hour training course, take the examination and pass within a year of being employed. A private investigation agency must sponsor the PI and this license is non renewable, license Fee: for this type is $192.50. Individual license, on the other hand, lets an individual acquire business as a PI with registered sponsor agency. License fee for this type is $192.50, while renewal fee is $100. For Journeyman license, they are only working with private investigation agencies, they do not give services to government agencies, private or public businesses. License Fee for this type is $342.50 while renewal fee is $250. Lastly, is the Agency License which allows for the sponsorship or hire of more than 1 licensed PI. The director/s should have journeyman or individual license and have more than 3 years experience. License Fee is $342.50 while renewal Fee: $250.

All applicants of the above should complete, 2 fingerprint cards, needed sponsor agency forms and criminal identification details/information.

Maine

To become a PI in Maine, the applicant must meet the basic qualifications set by the state, such as, 21 years of age and above, a resident alien or a U.S. citizen, finished GED or high school, has good moral character, meet experience and educational requirement and pass the examination.

As per the state of Law, a PI should meet any of the following: 60 Private Investigative college credits or any related field or get certification for private investigation study, and finish at the least 1200 hours in a program in investigative assistant sponsorship supervised by a sponsoring licensed PI/s, or 3 years at the least, working experience as a full time federal investigator or detective of a federal investigative agency or U.S. Armed Forces, or 3 years working as law enforcement officer of either a jurisdiction or state and was able to meet training requirements.

Or have at the least 6 years experience with any of the following, 2 years working experience in a field related to criminal law or justice, in a non clerical profession, education consisting of any of the ff: Associate degree coming from accredited institution/s in criminal justice, investigation, law, computer forensics, police administration or other acceptable related discipline or 60 credits of any of the above stated disciplines, acquired from an accredited institution.

After meeting the above qualification, you can submit Application for PI license in Maine. Additional information to submit are, money order or check for $71, for application fee and identification record checking, GED or high school diploma copies, resident alien card or birth certificate, work history documentations, 3 certifications from anyone who know you for 3 years at the least, signed Form P3, which gives permission to all courts, military forces, law enforcement agencies, mental institution and hospitals to provide information for your application evaluation, and authorization to release form to give permission to Riverview Psychiatric Center and Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center to provide information for your application evaluation.

Pass the examination consisting of fifty, true or false and multiple choice questions. The passing rate is 76%. Once passed your insurance company will receive an approval letter from Maine State Police.

Maryland

A license is required for one to perform private investigative roles in Maryland. To get license, it is important that you meet qualifications such as, must be 25 years old and above, good reputation and moral character, pass criminal background checking by FBI, and must have an offer or employed in a licensed private detective agecy/ies.

Education is not necessary to work as a registered PI in Maryland, but nevertheless, education is highly important for one to perform the role and impress employers, agencies and clients. Education related to the field, is a good start.

Submit registration form and supporting documents such as, Multiple Licensing Application, pages seven and thirteen notarized, completed fingerprint cards (one set), 2 recent passport type photos (white background), and $15 registration fee and $37.25 background checking fee, via money order or check, payable to the Maryland State Police, and mail all to the Licensing Division of Maryland State Police.

Massachusetts

It is vital for individuals to get the right experience and training to become a PI in Massachusetts and to name what you need to meet, read through.

Meet prerequisites to become private detectives in Massachusetts, such requirements are experience required (read below), have no record of felony, no records violating section 99 and 99A, good moral certification from 3 reputable citizens and should pass background investigation.

There is no strict education requirement for one to become a PI in Massachusetts, but training plays a vital role for this dream profession, such as 3 years experience in the field of private investigation, and/or ten years experience working as a police officer (for patrolman, 3 of those 10 years should be above patrolman’s rank).

Submit your application and documents, including, application for Private Detective license, Certificate page by 3 citizens of Massachusetts, living within the community where you live, where your business is located, where you work or where you plan to work as a PI. They must know you for the last 3 years, complete the Investigative Employment Certificate, including experience in the investigative role for the past 3 years, notarized bond form, authorization for Release of Information, completed and must be notarized, $5,000 surety bond, and money order or check of $550 for the licensure fee

Submit all of the above to Department of Massachusetts Police Certification Unit.

Michigan

Private investigators in Michigan are licensed and registered. And if you are dreaming to become one in Michigan, you initially need to meet the basic requirements of Michigan, such as be a citizen of the United States, 25 years of age and older, High school diploma and/or equivalent, no convictions of felony, no conviction of misdemeanor related to, Fraud or dishonesty, Unauthorized divulging or selling evidence or information, Impersonating any law enforcement official/s, Illegally possessing or using dangerous weapon/s, Assault and /or Controlled substances, no more than two misdemeanor offense related to alcohol, and was not discharged dishonorably from the U.S. military.

To be a licensed PI in the state of Michigan, applicant should have 3 years full experience in an investigation business working as a licensee, registrant or investigator, or in intelligence or investigative activities, or as in-house investigator or full time proprietary employed by a lawyer or a business, or as investigator reported employed to a media outlet/s.

For education requirements, bachelor’s degree or higher is necessary in any of the ff: Computer forensics, Criminal justice, Law, Investigation, Security engagement and/or Police administration.

To apply for licensure, submit requirements, such as 2 passport size photos, either official transcript or employment verification, insurance Amendatory Endorsement or Professional Investigator Surety Bond, if using a different name, DBA or Assumed Name Certificate must be included, 5 personal references notarized where the 5 individuals should know you for at the least 5 years and $750 for individual license fee.

Once all is satisfied and you receive your license, you can work as a PI in Michigan.

Minnesota

To get a PI license in Minnesota, meeting basic requirements of the state is a must. Requirements are, 18 years of age and above, no felony convictions and during application, you must be able to supply a surety bond of $10000 and proof of financial responsibility

There is no strict educational requirement set by Minnesota to acquire for a PI license, but should have at the least 6000 hours working in an investigative field, like in a sheriff’s office or police department, investigative service in the U.S. government, or with a licensed private investigator.

After all requirements, employment and basic qualifications are satisfied, you can ask for an Application Package, which costs $25, stating your interest of becoming a PI.

After receiving the packet, complete and submit all the documentations, you have to prove completion of requirements, including, a recent photo, fingerprint complete set, 5 references from individuals not blood related, but should know you for more than 5 years.

Once you receive your license, you can start to work as a PI in Minnesota

Mississippi

As of the writing, Mississippi has no regulation or licensing requirements for PI. But, because of the criticality and sensitivity of such profession, it is highly recommended that education and training must be obtained to perform the job well and right.

To gain the trust of clients and employers, a private investigator should pursue education related to private investigative field and/or get as much related and relevant experience. Getting hired in a registered private investigative company and/or agency, and acquiring studies would definitely help a private investigator become successful in this field.   

You find out more here.

Missouri

To become a private investigator in Missouri, you must achieve basic requirements, such as 21 years of age and above, a U.S. citizen and can secure $250,000 liability insurance.

Although a college degree is not required, getting one can help big time becoming successful in this field.

Applying for a PI license other requirements include, Application fee of $500, 2 passport style photo, Liability & worker’s compensation insurance ($250,000 at the least) and Fingerprinting complete set.

Passing the examination is another requirement; exam that consists of 75 questions, passing is necessary to qualify to get a license. Two hours will be given to the PI aspirants and one must get 70% to pass, examination fee is $80

After passing the examination, you can secure your PI license in Missouri.

Montana

To get a PI license in Montana, you must meet the requirements set by Montana, such as having a diploma in high school or equivalent, 21 years of age and older, a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S., no convictions of felony or anything that involves turpitude or illegal possession or use of dangerous weapon/s, was not discharged dishonorably by the United States military, no addiction or dependence to narcotics or alcohol, and the applicant should agree to undergo fingerprint and background investigation.

Other than the above basic requirements, you must have 3 years of working and/or education and training experience related to the investigative field. But training and education should not go beyond half of the 3 year requirement.

After meeting all the requirements above, you can submit PI license application, including Application fee: $250, Examination fee: $20, General liability insurance of at the least $500,000 coverage, One passport style photo, copy of birth certificate or driver’s license to attest age, U.S. passport, birth certificate or immigration card for permanent legal residency or citizenship proof, GED certificate or copy of diploma, 3 references not marriage or blood related and proof of experience and education.

After your application is received and approved, you will receive information about your examination schedule. Call the Board a week before the exam to let them know the location you plan to take the exam.

Once examination is passed, you can start working as a private investigator in Montana.  

Nebraska

To become a licensed PI in Nebraska, you first have to meet the basic requirements set by Nebraska, such as must be 21 years of age and older, no crime or felony involving moral turpitude, and no engagement to debt collection or even working as a collector of debt.

You also have to meet experience and education requirements of Nebraska, Minimum of three thousand hours of experience in the field of investigation or Minimum of two thousand five hundred hours of experience in the field of investigation plus associates degree in criminal justice or Minimum of two thousand hours of experience in the field of investigation plus bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

After all of the above are accomplished, you can apply for license and prepare the rest of the requirements, such as, Licensing fee: Private Detective of $50+$38, Private detective agency of $100+$38 and/or Plain Clothes Investigator of $25+$38, 2 fingerprint cards, Authorized and signed release of information form/s, 2 passport size photo, proof of education/experience (plain clothes investigators do not require such), and proof of surety bond for $10,000 (plain clothes investigators do not require such)

Taking the examination is your next step after submitting and passing step 1, 2 and 3. The score to pass the examination is 80%; to those who fail to pass, can do a retake 21 days after.

Once you pass the test, you can start to look for a private investigator job in nebraska as a PI in Nebraska.

Nevada

To become a PI in Nevada, you have to meet basic requirements such as 21 years of age and older, U.S. citizen or authorized to work in the U.S., no convictions of felony or convictions that involve illegal possession or use of dangerous weapon/s or crimes related to moral turpitude and pass background investigation.

Five years of experience in the field of investigation, two thousand hours every year or a total of ten thousand hours for five years. Although, college program in criminal justice or police science through college programs can replace the required experience.

After completing the above, you can apply for a PI license using the portal of Nevada Private Investigators License Board. Together with the application, requirements are, processing fee: $20, examination fee: $100, background investigation deposit: $750, passport style photo, Copy of naturalization papers, birth certificate and/or passport, 3 fingerprint cards together with $37.50 processing fee. This can be completed in a local law enforcement office, 3 certificates notarized, stating support of Personal References, Proof of education, transcripts and diplomas and 3 years of your tax returns (K1s, 1099s and/or W2s.

To pass the examination, you must achieve the grade of 75%.

New Hampshire

To work as a private investigator in New Hampshire, you must meet basic requirements set by New Hampshire such as 18 years of age and older, a U.S. resident, no abuse, domestic violence, or felony convictions, and no convictions of misdemeanor associated to use or sale of uncontrolled substances, fraud, honesty or theft

Education requirement is not needed if any experience such as, 4 years of working experience in any of the following: senior officer or director of security of a corporation or a company or a security service; Full time risk manager, claims investigator or adjuster for an adjusting company or insurance carrier; Law enforcement officer, working full time, for a municipal police department, university or college, federal, state or county or 2 years employment as a full time PI plus associate’s degree and/or certification related to private investigative field or 4 years employment as an investigator for an agency or a PI or 4 years employment as a firefighter and certification from International Association of Arson investigation, are met.

When applying for a license, you must meet requirements, like 2 year surety bond of $50,000 on approved form, PI or Individual application / Employee application for PI, application fee: $150, criminal record checking fee: $25 and background investigation fee: $10

All form must be printed and submitted personally to the Department of Safety.

New Jersey

To become a PI in New Jersey, you must meet minimum requirements such as a U.S. resident and 25 years of age and older.

There is no education requirement to become a PI in New Jersey, but there is for experience. You have to show proof of at least five years experience as a police officer or an investigator with a state or local police department or with a state, federal organization, county, or city investigative agency.

Fingerprinting is a critical part when applying for a PI license. Before fingerprinting, it is necessary you contact New Jersey State Police at 609 – 633 – 9835 to get a temporary agent license number. The license number is what you will enter in block #7 of the universal form.

After accomplishing all requirements above, you can apply for PI license. Accomplishing application, under individual license, plus documents such as Application fee: $250, one passport size photo, references from 5 reputable U.S. citizens of age 21 and above, who can verify your competency to work as a PI and notarized and signed Authorization for Release information form.

Send all documents to the private detective unit of the New Jersey State Police.

New Mexico

There are requirements you shall meet to become a licensed PI in New Mexico, and few of the basic requirements are a U.S. citizen, no convictions of felony or anything else involving illegal possession or sue of deadly weapon/s or violent act, must get diploma in high school, pass the jurisprudence examination, secure a surety bond of $10,000 (minimum) and should pass background investigation.

In the last 5 years, the applicant must complete investigative work of no less than 6000 hours. Other than experience, education may not be required, but highly recommended to ensure success in the profession.

To get a license, one should pass the jurisprudence examination facilitated by the department.

Here are the important documents you must submit, application fee of $200, proof of experience/s, 2 passport style photos, proof of your age (driver’s license, state issued ID or birth certificate), surety bond copy of $10,000 (minimum), employment proof from a private investigation agency or company you worked with and fingerprint cards.

New York

If you want to become a licensed PI in New York, you must meet the minimum requirements, such as, must be 25 years of age and older, a U.S. citizen and has diploma in high school.

Possessing at least one of these work experiences is necessary: full time investigative experience for at the least 3 years, working as a licensed PI or an employee or with a police agency or government investigative agency or 3 years equivalent experience where your primary duty is to conduct investigations or 3 years supervising the work of 3 or more people who are performing investigations or 20 years serving as a Fire Marshall or a police officer.

Meanwhile, there is no educational requirement but getting a degree or certificate related to the field is recommended.

You must pass the exam that will take about two and a half hours and taker must get 70% to pass.

After passing the exam, fingerprinting is next. Fingerprinting should be conducted either in MorphoTrust USA or IdentoGo.

Once everything above are satisfied, you can apply for a license, and documents to prepare are,  DMV consent form, Bond form, Electronic fingerprinting receipt, application fee: $400, proof of experience to qualify, sworn statement from 3 people who know you directly and earning proof for the last three years.

North Carolina

If you are planning to become a PI in North Carolina, you must initially meet the state’s minimum requirements such as, 18 years of age and older, high school diploma or GED, Resident alien or a U.S. citizen and good moral character.

3 years experience conducting investigations is required to get a PI license, and this experience is equivalent to the three thousand hours required for training. For trainings on the other hand, you can get it from accredited North Carolina schools or online schools offering degrees in the field of criminal justice.

The credits such as Associate’s: total of 400 hours, Graduate: total of 1200 hours, Bachelor’s: total of 800 hours will be accumulated during training.

After accomplishing the required training, application can be submitted Other than the above, documentations required are, Fingerprint application card, application for unarmed or armed registration, photo from head to shoulder taken from the last 6 months, Credit check by Equifax run w/in the past thirty days, Money orders or check, $15 application fee and $38 for fingerprint check, Proof of education, Signed and notarized release of records form and reference questionnaires filled by each of your chosen references

Documents, and information can be sent to [email protected].

North Dakota

If you wish to become a private investigator in North Dakota, you must get a license. There are many requirements before one can get a license and basic requirements are a must to meet. Basic requirements such as, GED certificate or High School diploma, 18 years of age and older, not involved or found guilty to any crimes such as Misdemeanor involving intimidation, controlled substances, or violence, Felony, and/or Theft of any types, including shoplifting, no mental condition or defect that may affect the ability of the person to competently give services and not committed any acts that may indicate bad moral character.

You may still be qualified to become a PI even if you committed any of the above, provided that the board thinks that you are completely rehabilitated and/or the offense committed will not have a negative implication when you are serving the community/public.

The applicant must be a registered employee of a detective agency, in which 2000 of his/her hours are spent in investigative services.

Education is not a requirement, but if you want to be an attractive PI and be ready when taking the examination, getting a degree in any field of criminal justice is recommended.

Before applying for a PI license, you must pass North Dakota’s examination of 150 questionnaires. In the event you fail the exam, you can retake it after 30 days, but when you fail the exam twice, you have to wait for a year before taking the exam again.

Now that all of the above are satisfied, you can apply for a license. You are required to pay $130 for the license fee and for first time applicants, he/she must pay onetime fee of $100.

Number of forms should be submitted, including, Application, Authorization for criminal background check, 10 years employment history, and Certification of training.

Forms can be downloaded on North Dakota’s website.

Ohio

Before one can become a private investigator, getting a license is required. To get a license in Ohio, you must meet their minimum requirements such as, good integrity reputation, not convicted of any crimes related to moral turpitude, such as, Felony violence of first to second degree, Murder, Aggravated murder, Sexually related offense, not convicted for the past 3 years of cases such as Felony that may affect your capability to work as a private investigator and was never found incompetent to get a license

Ohio demands PI applicants to have 2 years experience or minimum of four thousand hours, working in investigatory job. If you worked as a law enforcement officer, military policemen, or officer, this requirement can be waived.

If you receive formal training/s in criminal justice, like getting bachelor’s or associate’s degree, this can be counted as half of the experience requirement. You can either finish the bachelor’s or associate’s degree at accredited schools in the state or from online school/s.

When submitting your application for PI license, you must include, recent photo of your full face, at least 5 character references of reputable citizens, fees: License fee for $375 and examination fee of $25, fingerprints for criminal background check and Liability insurance proof, at the least: Property damage: $100,000, $100,00 for every investigator and Every occurrence or incident of bodily injury: $300,000

Forms are available and accessible on Ohio’s website.

After submitting the application for PI license, you will be informed where and when is your exam schedule. In the event you cannot attend as scheduled, you have to present medical certificate as a proof you are sick on that date.

The total number of questions is 75 and the applicant must get 80% score to pass the exam.

Oklahoma

If you are planning to become a private investigator in Oklahoma, you must meet requirements such as 18 years of age and older, legally residing in the U.S. or a U.S. citizen, has good moral character and was not convicted of a crime/s of moral turpitude/s or felony

There are training requirements, part of the PI license application. Trainings are for unarmed Phases I (twenty hours) and III (thirty five hours) and for armed, Phases I (twenty hours) and III (thirty five hours), and IV (thirty two hours)

If you have experience, this training can be waived. The professions to consider are: Correctional officers Oklahoma, Peace officers Oklahoma, Reserve officers Oklahoma, Military police, full time out of state Police Officer/s and security guards or PI.

Together with the application form, you must submit, application, certified court sentence and judgment or letter of no record, fingerprint cards, two passport sized photo, record checks from sheriff department or local police department, proof of insurance/bond or employment letter, proof of comparable training or experience, and CLEET fee for Unarmed Personal Investigator: $91 and for Armed Personal Investigator: $141.

Taking and passing examination is required to get PI license. The score to pass the examination is 70% and the fee to pay is $25.

Once you pass the exam, you will be notified to get a license.

Oregon

You must be licensed to become a private investigator in Oregon. To get a PI license, one must meet all the requirements set by Oregon, such as, must be a U.S. citizen, 18 years of age and above and have a verifiable experience doing investigative work (1500 hours or can be substituted with education of 500 hours)

Part of the PI license requirement is 1500 hours of experience doing investigative work. Contacting a private investigator or detective agency to provide them your service as one of their apprentice is a must.

The number of work hours can be reduced by 1/3 by getting advanced education, 3 hours in class is equivalent to an hour of required experience. Anyway, getting a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in the field of criminal justice can give you an edge in this field.

When applying for a license, you have to submit documents such as, exam and background check fee: $79, License fee of $550, application form, 3 letters of references, fingerprint cards, 2 recent photos, insurance or bond of Corporate surety bond of $5000 or Omission and errors insurance of $5000, resume that shows qualifications, work experience and education and Professional Code of Ethics for private investigators

The process may take four to eight weeks

After processing your application packet, you will be notified to take the examination. You must get the score of 86% to pass the exam.

You will be given 3 attempts to try passing the exam, if after the third attempt you fail, you must wait for one year to retake the examination.

After passing the examination and submitting all the required documents, you can start working as PI in Oregon.

Pennsylvania

Getting a license is necessary if you want to become a private investigator in Pennsylvania, part of the requirements getting a license is meeting the state’s minimum requirements, such as being 25 years old or older, a citizen of the U.S., 3 years of work experience as a law enforcement agent (rank should be higher than patrolmen) or an employee of a detective agency, and never been convicted of criminal cases, like felony, possessing, using or carrying dangerous weapon/s, entering a building/facility illegally, helping a prisoner to escape, committing simple assault/s and so on.  

Since there is no strict requirement for both education and training, anyone who meets the requirements above can apply for a license. The application should include, 5 character references that can attest to their character and know them for at the least five years, fingerprint cards, $10000 of surety bonds, 2 passport size photos, and $200 for license fee.

Once all are done, and you receive a feedback, you can work as a PI. Although, there are some counties within the state that wait for ten days after filing date before issuing a license.

Rhode Island

Thinking of working as private investigator in Rhode Island? Then securing a license is a must. To get a license, you must start by assessing whether you meet the state’s minimum requirements or not. Requirements are being a resident or a U.S. citizen, no felony convictions, never denied or revoked a license, never declared incompetent because of mental defect or disease, has good moral character, never suffer from alcohol or narcotics addiction, and have experience on any of such, 5 years working as a police officer or law enforcement investigator, or finished degree in criminal justice in an accredited college or university, or 5 years of employment as one of the investigators of a PI, or equivalent experience or training.

After satisfying the minimum requirements above, you are also required to pay license fee of $150 and $5000 worth of surety bond. Once everything has been submitted and your license granted, you can start to work as a PI in Rhode Island.

South Carolina

If you want to become a PI in South Carolina, you must meet their minimum requirements such as 18 years of age and older, a U.S. citizen, no conviction of moral turpitude or felony and not employed where conflict of interest is possible.

If all of the minimum requirements are met, an aspiring PI can send license application together with forms you can get from South Carolina’s website, such as PS-9/PD, Disclosure of Principal, DD-214, contract sample and qualifications, notarized and signed application, $350 license fee, two sets of fingerprint cards, $10000 surety bond, photo, and proof from your county’s court’s office that you do not have outstanding civil judgment.

After all requirements and forms are submitted, and license is received, you can start to work as a private investigator in South Carolina.

South Dakota

To become a private investigator in South Dakota, education and training is not required, but if you are planning to work alone as a PI, you have to start an independent private investigator agency business. Consulting a tax specialist is recommended to determine whether it is best for you to have sole proprietorship or an incorporate as LLC.

Know the advantages and disadvantages of each and decide for yourself which is best for you. Moving on, after the business is approved by your respective state, you have to get a federal tax identification number from the IRS.

Tennessee

A license is required if you want to work as a PI in Tennessee, and their minimum requirements are 21 years of age and above, a resident alien or a U.S. citizen, never affirmed incompetent because of mental defect or problem, have your own license or be connected with a private investigator that is licensed, good moral character, never suffer from habitual drunkenness or narcotics dependence or addiction, and never practiced fraud, misrepresentation or deceit.

In terms of education and training, Tennessee does not require any strict requirement, yet, getting education will give you a huge edge in terms of employment and career opportunities. Moving on, after completion of the requirements above, submitting your application is next. Application should include, application forms, fees including $150 for application fee, $60 for fingerprinting and $100 for license fee, 2 passport photos, fingerprint cards, and letter of affiliation/endorsement coming from a PI company.   

After submitting application form, you must take and pass the examination after. Once completed, you can start to work as a PI in Tennessee.

Texas

If you are dreaming to work as a private investigator in Texas, getting a license is necessary. The minimum requirements to apply, both for private investigator aiming to be employed in an established investigation agency and PI planning to put up his/her own agency, are 18 years of age at the least, never been convicted of any felony cases in all jurisdictions, no Class B misdemeanor convictions for the last 5 years, not under indictment or currently charged of Class A felony or misdemeanor, no Class B misdemeanor convictions, and never affirmed incompetent because of mental disease or disorder by court.

If you are just planning to work as an employee of a licensed private investigation agency, education and training is not a requirement but of course, expect that employers are more attracted to hire PIs that have finished Bachelor’s degree or at the least attended training.

Your employer will be the one to arrange and collect your documents and submit it to Texas Department of Safety. After your employer submitted and completed all requirements, they will receive a notification on where to perform your fingerprinting.   

After your background check is complete, and you passed all the requirements your license will be sent to your employer’s address.

Utah

It is the Utah Department of Public Security that issues license for PI in Utah. Before a license is issued, there are requirements one must acquire. Basic requirements of Utah includes, 21 years of age and older, a legal resident, has good moral character, has the ability to post surety bond and collect the right amount of experience (2000 hours minimum experience in an investigative field).

Education is not a requirement to get a license in Utah, but needless to say, it would help a lot if you get a bachelor’s degree related to the field. Once all of the minimum requirements are completed, you can apply for a license. License application requires fees of $100 for apprentice license or PI registrant and $16.50 fingerprinting and criminal background check, passport sized photo, a photocopy of state identification card/driver’s license, one fingerprint card, surety bond of $10000 and proof to verify experience.    

After submission, thorough background checking will be performed, and when all is passed, you will receive your license and you can start to work as a PI in Utah.

Vermont

License is necessary to work as a private investigator in Vermont. Minimum requirements to qualify for a license are 18 years of age and older, have 2 years investigative experience, legal resident or a U.S. citizen, currently employed to a private investigative agency in Vermont, completed the necessary training, pass criminal background check, and good standing to taxes, child support orders, judicial bureau and district court fines.    

Although education is not required when getting a license, experience and trainings are. Before taking the examination, you must have 2 years investigative experience under a licensed PI in Vermont or worked for 2 years as a police officer, and while you are waiting to receive your permanent registration approval, forty hours training in Board approved program must be satisfied as well.

Once all of the above are satisfied, you can apply for a license. To apply, you must download forms, fees of $60 for unarmed and $120 for armed, passport sized photograph, temporary registration/statement signed by your supervisor, and arrange for an FBI background checking by calling 802 828 1134 (Kara Shangraw – A Licensing Board Specialist).    

Virginia

If your goal is to work as private investigator in Virginia, you must keep a license. There are basic requirements one must possess to apply for a license, such as 18 years of age and above, completed all trainings and a legal resident or a citizen of the U.S.

Initial training and fingerprinting must be completed prior applying for a license. The training requirement includes sixty hours of training involving orientation, law, general investigative skills and documentations. After finishing the training, exam should be taken and passed.

Once you completed all of the above, you can start to work as a PI in Virginia.

Washington

To become a PI in Washington, you must comply with the state’s basic requirements, such as 18 years of age and above, a citizen of the U.S. or a resident alien, currently employed or has an existing offer from a licensed PI agency, and no criminal conviction that is related to duties of a PI.

4 hours of trainings is required to each of the following, legal powers and limitations, permissible purpose of reports, activities that can violate criminal statutes sources of public information, court systems, privilege/confidentiality, courtroom testimony, report writing, and evidence.

In Washington license is not required to seek for a job as a PI, but needless to say, getting a license can offer you a better edge. Along with the PI license application, are fees to pay, $200 for unarmed PI and $300 for armed and $25 for the trainer exam.

There is no specific educational requirement to become a PI in Washington, but you must pass the exam to get a license.

West Virginia

To become a PI in West Virginia, you must pass their minimum requirements, such as 18 years of age and above, a legal resident or U.S. citizen, has good moral character, and no convictions including alcohol and drug related crimes, crimes that involve moral turpitude, stolen property or firearms.

Experience or experience and education is required to get a license in West Virginia. For experience you must have 32 hours/week for 100 weeks work experience in the field of PI. Some of the hours required on experience can be compensated by education, 2 year or 4 year course related to the field of private investigating.

Once all of the above are satisfied, you can submit application for a license. On your application, you must get 5 references to attest your competency in the field, references should not be related by marriage and blood. Together with the references, you should be photographed and fingerprinted and fees of $50 for the license and additional $150 for WV residents and $550 for non residents.

After all are satisfied you can start working as a PI in WV.

Wisconsin

A license is required to become a PI in Wisconsin, and completing all basic requirements such as 18 years of age and above, completed high school, clean criminal record and should be employed by a licensed PI or an agency.

After the above, you must submit application and get fingerprinted, and get $2000 surety bond. One of the hardest parts of getting a license is the examination, where the applicant must take after documentation and fingerprinting is completed. But, after passing the examination, you can start to work as one of the state’s private investigator.

Wyoming

Depending on the jurisdiction, one must get a license to perform work as a PI, hence if you want to work as a PI in the entire Wyoming, getting a license is recommended. To get a better edge in this kind of job, getting education and training, such as apprenticeship is recommended.

Moving on, filling out the application form and fingerprinting must be completed to pursue PI license. For fingerprinting, you must present completed application form, a photo ID and pay $15.00 for the state fee and another $15.00 for the ID cards and fingerprints.

Once done, you can start to look for jobs and work as a PI in the entire State of Wyoming

Do you want to become a PI?

The excitement and thrill of solving puzzles and digging for clues have made many people interested in pursuing career as a Private Investigator. People become inspired to work in this field for many reasons, from watching James Bond movies to reading Sherlock Holmes stories, while others simply just have a love for solving mysteries and finding the truth. Many pursue educational paths focused in this field, like criminal justice or forensics, which help educate the would-be investigator in the subjects of law and criminal procedure. Other Private Investigators have law-enforcement backgrounds from working as Police Officers or Federal Agents. Although these factors certainly help, they are NOT necessary.

Anyone can become an investigator, and diversity in race, age, and gender is actually good. You can be young or older, male or female, and of any race and background. What you will need is excellent speaking and writing skills, dedication to your craft, and an impeccable work ethic.  Charisma is always a huge advantage, if people enjoy speaking with you, and you are a great listener, then you are well on your way to developing sources and locating persons who otherwise do not wish to be found.

Unlike what you read at online websites or other “Schools” which specialize in parting would-be investigators from their money, there is no “Certification” required to become an investigator, and companies will not hire you based on passing any of these programs or classes. If you would like to learn the skills required, it is recommended that you apply to companies and learn what their specific needs are. Most will train new investigators, and assign you with a manager or a person with experience so you can follow and learn from someone in the field. Do you wish to become an insurance or corporate investigator? Financial or liability cases? Do you like to investigate marital cases, or criminal? Defense or Plaintiff? Do you like conducting surveillance or taking statements? Although you can learn to do all of these (and will probably work all of these in your career), companies will typically train and assign you to one specific specialty area at first.   

In many states, there is a big difference between a Private Investigator and a Licensed Private Investigator. Many states require years of background experience as well as a bond and insurance coverage before awarding you a license, while other states have no prerequisites other than to apply in order to become an investigator. 

Requirement to become a private investigator varies from state to state, and just because you are qualified to work as a Private Investigator in New York does not mean you can conduct investigations in California. Read above to find out qualifications and requirements for becoming a PI in every US state.