Do you love to uncover secrets? Here is a passion you can turn to a high paying profession in the USA. Learn how to become a private investigator, PI requirements, salary, and schools to attend. Stay with us.
Do you know the licensing requirements to become a PI by states in the USA? We have written it in details.
This post is highly detailed with everything you need to know about how to become a private investigator, including the requirements in the USA. Relax, we can assure you that it will be worth the read.
- Who Is A Private Investigator?
- What Does A Private Investigator Do?
- How Long Does It Take To Become A Private Investigator?
- How Much Does It Cost To Become A Private Investigator?
- Which Schools Can I Attend To Become A Private Investigator?
- Private Investigator Salary In USA
- In Which State In The USA Does Private Investigators Earn the Most Money?
- What Are The Steps/ Requirements To Become A Private Investigator?
- How To Become A Licensed Private Investigator By States?
- How To Become A Licensed Private Investigator In Texas
- How To Become A Licensed Private Investigator In California
- Which States In USA Do Not Require A License To Be A Private Investigator?
- How To Become A Private Investigator With No Experience?
- Are There Online Private Investigation Courses?
- Scholarships Available for Private Investigator Related Courses in the USA
- Top companies for Private Investigators in United States
- FAQs on How To Become A Private Investigator In 2020: Schools, Salary, Cost, Requirements
Who Is A Private Investigator?
A Private investigator is also known as a private detective who works for organizations and individuals to find information. This information may include legal, personal, or financial information, in addition, they also perform background checks, interview people, and engaging in surveillance activities.
Furthermore, a number of states allow private investigators to carry weapons but they have to undergo compulsory firearms training, certification, and certification renewal.
What Does A Private Investigator Do?
There are many things a private investigator does. We will list the work description so when you learn how to become a private investigator, you will be aware of your job role.
A typical PI in USA and beyond investigates;
How Long Does It Take To Become A Private Investigator?
There is no specific amount of time needed. Your level and education and the time frame in passing the state licensing exam and requirements will determine how long it will take you to become a private detective.
In the USA, there is no specific education required to become a private investigator, however, it will take you reaching the age of 18 or 21, getting experience and licensing. In those states that you can work without experience like Oklahoma, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in law, criminal justice, or political science.
So, how long will it take you to become a private investigator or detective? When you meet all the state stipulated requirements.
How Much Does It Cost To Become A Private Investigator?
The typical cost to become a private investigator is the amount you will spend on processing and obtaining your license and any other course the state mandates. The cost varies by state. But, we can make an estimate. For instance, in Florida, the state PI course cots $420, and $154 for license and fingerprints.
Which Schools Can I Attend To Become A Private Investigator?
Although most states here in the USA do not need people to have an education before becoming a private investigator. Nevertheless, pursue an associate or a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, political science, or a related field. Private investigators require these degrees and knowledge.
The private investigator degree and certificate program is seen below
Universities that offer criminal justice/police science as a course;
Private Investigator Salary In USA
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a projection that there will be an 8% job growth for private investigators between 2018 and 2028.
Similarly, in 2018, private investigators had a median annual salary of $50,090, and an hourly rate of $24.08 per hour.
Indeed in 2020, agrees that the salary of private investigators with 2 to 3 years of experience and adequate qualification is $21.58 per hour. Glassdoor gives an annual average of $48,716.
In conclusion, the experience, education, industry, and licensure of the private investigator can and always affect the salaries he receives. It also affects the kind of investigative job he receives.
If the salary expectation is the motivating factor to you who is looking for how to become a private investigator in the USA, the one we have written above is high enough to kickstart your career even as there is an increase in crime rate.
In Which State In The USA Does Private Investigators Earn the Most Money?
There are states in the USA where private investigators earn the most money. Not only because of the crime rate but because of the increased exposure those states have for the activities of a private investigator.
We will just list them below with their most recent average salary.
What Are The Steps/ Requirements To Become A Private Investigator?
In order to become a licensed private investigator in the world and USA, there are specific licensing requirements, which include education and experience, application procedures, and renewal procedures.
We also wish to point out that requirements to become a private detective and investigator varies by state. However, there are some general requirements for becoming a private investigator peculiar to all the states.
Actually, most states also have strict rules prohibiting candidates who have a felony or any other criminal conviction from becoming private investigators.
What do you need to be a private investigator? Generally, these below are the requirements. Let us explain fully.
Step #1: Get A High School Diploma or Equivalent
Most employers and states require a high school diploma or equivalent before hiring and allowing someone to work as a private investigator.
Step #2: Relevant Age
Many states allow people who are up to 21 years of age to become private investigators. Also, some states have an age limit of 25 years, those below this cannot become private investigators.
Step #3: Consider an Associate or Bachelors Degree
You should consider getting an associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or related fields. If you are interested in working as private investigators, getting a bachelor’s or associate’s degree will open you up for wider opportunities.
The higher the degree, the wider the variety of job opportunities available to you.
Step #4: Get A Job Experience
Getting a job experience as a military or a police officer will enhance your qualification for the job of a private investigator.
Many private investigators in the USA have worked in law enforcement before becoming private investigators. They make this switch in careers because private investigator jobs have no formal official age for retirement.
In addition, paralegals, process servers, and collections agents may also choose second careers as private investigators.
How To Become A Licensed Private Investigator By States?
Actually, you can become a private investigator without having adequate licensing. In the next subheading, we listed the states where private investigators do not require licensing.
However, every state in the USA has its specific requirements. In light of this, we will write about some states and put a link to where you can find the requirements for licensing for other states.
Let us begin.
How To Become A Licensed Private Investigator In Texas
In Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission expects a job increase by 26.5% by 2020. The license is granted by the Texas Private Security Bureau.
In addition, applicants must be able to qualify as the manager or owner of a PI firm. If not, he must first train with a PI agency.
A private investigations agency can consist of just the agency owner working independently, or the owner and a number of employees.
Step #1. Meet the Basic Registration Requirements
The checklist below is the basic requirement to become a PI whether you want to work for an already established agency or open your own. They are;
Step #2. Fulfill Education and Experience Requirements
To work for a private investigation company
Firstly, you must be sponsored by a private investigation agency licensed in Texas before you can apply for registration as a private investigator. By this, it means you will be employed or have a firm job offer from a private investigative agency licensed in Texas.
Actually, your employer will decide the level of education it wants. Asides law enforcement experience, you can consider getting a degree in Business Administration – Legal Studies, or Criminal Justice with either the option of Homeland Security and Emergency Management or Human Service.
To start a private investigation company
To be able to open your own practice, you must meet the qualifications to become a private investigation company owner/manager. You must meet one of the following requirements;
Step #3. Register your New PI Agency or Become Registered with an Existing Agency
If you intend to work for a private investigation company
The employer will collect your personal data and have you complete the Original Registration Application Supplement. Using the online application system submit an application to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Private Security Bureau (PSB). Also, submit fingerprints.
If all goes well, your employer will be emailed your registration.
When planning to start a private investigation company
If registering a new PI company, submit a PSB-01 Company License Application Form. Before this, your company name should have been approved or just use your own name. Also, you should have identified the kind of business it is and the partners and shareholders. If you are submitting online, wait for 24 hours after completing the company application before submitting your individual owner/manager application. As the owner of the PI company, submit the Original Owner/Manager Application either offline or apply online.
Application Fee of $33 and a fingerprint receipt. Send by mail to Texas Department of Public Safety, Private Security MSC 0242, P.O. Bo 15999, Austin, TX 78761-5999. Add the PSB-50 form.
90 days within the application, write and pass the manager exam. Show proof of liability insurance using the Certificate of Liability Insurance Form.
Step #4. After Registration
Your registration must be renewed online each year.
You will need to take courses as either the manager or an employee whose company is less than 15 years (18 hours) and more than 15 years for 12 hours respectively.
Some of the major private investigating agencies in Texas include:
How To Become A Licensed Private Investigator In California
In California, the body responsible for granting license to private investigatos in the state is the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS).
With this license, you can work independently or manage a private investigative firm. Apply for the one you want with a firearm permit.
Consequently, there are other things you need to know. To obtain this license, you will write a two-hour exam, and undergo background checks through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the California Department of Justice (DOJ).
Again, you require a three-year experience working as an investigator before you will be given a license in California. In the same vein, an associate’s degree in criminal justice, criminal law, or police science will substitute for half a year of the required experience. Also, a law degree or a bachelor’s degree in police science will substitute for one year of experience.
Now the steps to become a licensed private investigator in Califoria.
Step #1. Acquire Experience/Education in California
The following experience, training, and education are needed in California to become a private investigator.
The following jobs are acceptable as an investigative work: sworn law enforcement officer, military/police officer. Also, working under a licensed PI, attorney, repossession firm, insurance agency, or arson investigation unit as an investigator.
These listed jobs are not acceptable in California: process server, public records researcher, or debt collector.
Step #2. Do your Biometrics/ Fingerprint
In California, you must fill out a Live Scan Fingerprint Application. If you want to apply for a weapons permit, fill out another one also. These forms are not available online, so, go to the centers for your application.
The standard fee is $51 for a private investigator and $89 with a firearm permit. The receipt gotten here will be in your application jacket.
Step #3. Obtain, Complete and Submit Application
To apply, you must be U.S. citizens or legal residents above the age of 18. Submit the following documents along with the application packet.
After getting these, email the entire packet to BSIS, P.O. Box 989002, West Sacramento, CA 95798-9002. They can also be called at 916-322-4000.
Step #4. Take and Pass California Private Investigator Exam
People who applied and are successful will receive an exam packet Psychological Services Industries containing a candidate handbook, study materials, and a number to call to schedule the examination.
Expect to write a test that covers topics as terminology, laws/regulations, civil/criminal liability, evidence handling, surveillance, etc. If you pass, submit a $175 fee to receive the license.
Step #5. Begin Working
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PIs in California earn an annual mean salary of $58,970. The salary in areas are;
From this list, you can check the Licensing Requirements for other States in the USA.
Which States In USA Do Not Require A License To Be A Private Investigator?
According to a survey by BLS, as at the last count, it showed there were over 33,000 private investigators working throughout the United State.
Although all the states in the United States require private investigators to be licensed, these five states do not require licensing at the state level for private investigators.
However, of these 5 states, 2 have licensing requirements at the local level. They are Wyoming and Alaska. Idaho, Mississippi, and South Dakota do not have any license requirements at both the local and state level.
How To Become A Private Investigator With No Experience?
There are some states in private investigators where you can practice without the experience of any sort.
For instance, some states, such as Oklahoma, allow candidates with no experience to become licensed, provided they complete CLEET-approved training.
Are There Online Private Investigation Courses?
Yes, there are a few private investigative courses in the USA. We mean the accredited ones.
Detective Training Institute is one of such platforms. Alongside this, we will list others. They are;
Scholarships Available for Private Investigator Related Courses in the USA
However, this segment lists some of the scholarships for USA students to take related courses in private investigation. They are below.
Top companies for Private Investigators in United States
After you have learned how to become a private Investigator in the USA, you may decide to go into private practice or work for reputable companies.
According to a survey conducted, it was found out that 57% of Private investigators in the United States agreed that their salaries are enough to cover their cost of living.
If you wish to work for a company as a private investigator, consider working for these top companies in the USA.
FAQs on How To Become A Private Investigator In 2020: Schools, Salary, Cost, Requirements
How Long Does it take to become a private detective?
There is no specific amount of time needed. Your level and education and the time frame in passing the state licensing exam and requirements will determine how long it will take you to become a private detective in the USA
What is the private investigator certification?
They are certificates given by the state in which the private investigator wants to practice in, showing that he or she has passed all the requirements of the state and can practice comfortably.
what do you need to be a private investigator?
1. High school diploma or equivalent
2. An associate or bachelors degree in criminal justice or related field
3. Obtain work experience
4. Get license
What are private investigator similar professions in USA?
You can become either a Cop or an FBI agent. They are similar professions to a private investigating job in the USA.
Can i Be an unlicensed private investigator?
Yes, you can be. If you are practicing in a state where there is no need for licensing, then you can practice as an unlicensed private investigator. The states are
Can a Private Investigator Make Arrests?
Private investigators cannot make legal arrests in the United States. However, there are some states that allow for citizen’s arrests. It is usually rare for private investigators to make arrests.
Have you long desired to become a private investigator in the USA? World Scholarship Forum has provided a detailed guide on how to go about achieving that dream. Read through and get back to us where it seems confusing.