State Requirements For Private Investigator (Detective) Licensing

Find out what is required for licensure. Example: In Virginia, to operate your own business, you have to have: a business license (and there are a number of requirements to meet), a compliance agent, and any person performing the investigations has to be “registered” with the state. This entails taking a state approved course and passing a background check. NOTE: Virginia is one of the most regulated states I have heard of. In California, you had to show proof of 2000 hours of employed experience and pass an exam. In Washington DC, all you have to do is submit the paperwork, pay your fees, and pass a background check – no prior experience required.

This could mean that you can either obtain a license or not, in which case you will have to work for someone else for a number of years before hanging your own shingle. See each state’s private investigator requirements below.

Private Investigator in Alabama

State law
State P.I. Association


There is no P.I. licensing requirement in Alaska, although some cities, such as Fairbanks, have their own, and a state business license is required to operate any business in Alaska.
Fairbanks, Alaska
State P.I. Association (email)

Private Investigator in Arizona

Dept. of Public Safety, Licensing Division
P. O. Box 6328
Phoenix, AZ 85005
(602) 223-2361.
Web site
State law
Full state law   (Scroll down page to Chapter 24)


Arkansas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies
#1 State Police Plaza Dr.
Little Rock, Arkansas 72209
(501) 618-8600
State Police web site – contact for further information
Fees and exemptions

Private Investigator in California

Licensing Division, Bureau of Security and Investigative Services
400 R Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(800) 952-5210
Web site
State law  (check the box marked Business and Professions Code, type in private investigator at the bottom, click on the search button, then click on the top choice that returns )
State P.I. Association


None required.
State P.I. Association

Private Investigator in Connecticut

Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police
294 Colony St.
Meriden, CT 06450-2098
Web site  (scroll down page for PI information)


Detective Licensing, Delaware State Police
P. O. Box 430
Dover, DE 19903
(302) 736-5900
Web site

Private Investigator in District of Columbia

Security Officers Management Branch, Metro Police
Security Unit 2000
14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 939-8722


Department of State, Division of Licensing
P.O. Box 6687
Tallahassee, FL 32314-6687
(904) 488-5381
Web page
State law

Private Investigator in Georgia

State Board of Private Security Agencies
166 Pryor St. SW
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 656-2282


Board of Private Detectives & Guards
DCCA, PVL, Licensing Branch
1010 Richards St.
P.O. Box 3469
Honolulu, HI 96801.
(808) 586-3000 or (808) 586-2701

Private Investigator in Idaho

None required.
State P.I. Association (email)


Illinois Department of Professional Regulation
320 West Washington Street, 3rd Floor
Springfield, IL 62786
Web page
State law
State P.I. Association

Private Investigator in Indiana

Private Detective Licensing Board
100 N. Senae Ave., Rm 1021
Indiana Government Center North
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2246
(317) 232-2980
State law


Administrative Services Division, Iowa Department of Public Safety
Wallace State Office Bldg.
Des Moines, IA 50319
(515) 281-3211
State law
State P.I. Association

Private Investigator in Kansas

Office of the Attorney General
Kansas Judicial Center, 2nd Floor
Topeka, KS 66612-1597


Bush Building
406 Wapping St., 2nd Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 564-7554

Private Investigator in Louisiana

Secretary of State
P.O. Box 94125
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125
(504) 925-4704
Web page
State P.I. Association


State Police Licensing Division
State House Sta #164
Augusta, ME 04333
(207) 624-8775

Private Investigator in Maryland

Maryland State Police, PI Licensing Division
Jessup, MD
(410) 799-0191, ext. 331
State law


Massachusetts State Police
Special Licensing Unit
20 Somerset St., Boston
MA 02108
(617) 727-6128
State P.I. Association

Private Investigator in Michigan

Department of State Police
Private Security & Investigative Section
7150 Harris Dr.
Lansing, MI 48913
(517) 322-1964
Web site


Department of Public Safety
Private Detective & Protective Agent Services Board
445 Minnesota Street,
Saint Paul, MN 55101
State law

Private Investigator in Mississippi

None required.


P.O. Box 720
Jefferson City, MO 65102
None required on the state level, but Kansas City, St Louis, Joplin, St Joseph and Springfield require licensing.
State law requiring licensing in Kansas City and St Louis

Private Investigator in Montana

Board of Private Security Patrolmen & Investigators
Arcade Building
11 North Jackson
PO Box 200513
Helena, MT 59620-0513
(406) 444-3728, Fax: (406) 444-1667
Web site


Secretary of State
State Capitol, Suite 2300
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2554
Web site
State law

Private Investigator in Nevada

Office of the Attorney General
Private Investigator’s Licensing Board
100 N. Carson St.
Carson City, NV 89701-4717
(702) 687-5534
State law

New Hampshire

State Police
Division of Licenses and Permits
Hazen DR., Concord, NH 03305
(603) 271-3575
State P.I. Association

Private Investigator in New Jersey

State Police
Department of Law & Public Safety
Private Detective Unit
P. O. Box 7068
W. Trenton, NJ 08688-0068
(609) 882-2000
Web site

New Mexico

Bureau of Private Investigators
P.O. Box 25101
Santa Fe, NM 87504
(505) 827-7172

Private Investigator in New York

Department of State
Division of Licensing Services
84 Holland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208-3490
Web site
State law
State P.I. Association

North Carolina

Private Protective Services Board
P. O. Box 29500
3320 Old Garner Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27626-0500
(919) 662-4387 Fax: 919-662-4459
Web site
State P.I. Association

Private Investigator in North Dakota

Private Investigative & Security Board
P.O. Box 7026
Bismarck, ND 58505
(701) 222-3063


Ohio Department of Commerce
Division of Licensing
77 South High St.
Columbus, OH 43266-0546
(614) 466-4130
State law
State P.I. Association

Private Investigator in Oklahoma

Council on Law Enforcement Education & Training
Private Security Division
P. O. Box 11476-Cimarron Station
Oklahoma City, OK 73136-0476
(405) 425-2775
State law
State P.I. Association


Oregon Board of Investigators
445 State Office Bldg.
800 NE Oregon Street #33
Portland, OR 97232
(503) 731-4359
FAX: (503) 731-4366
Email: [email protected]
State law
State P.I. Association

Private Investigator in Pennsylvania

State law
State P.I. Association

Puerto Rico

Policia De Puerto Rico
GPO Box 70166
San Juan, PR 00936
(809) 781-0227
State P.I. Association (email)

Private Investigator in Rhode Island

State of Rhode Island
Providence Plantations
345 Harris Ave.
Providence, RI 29221
(402) 277-2000
State law
State P.I. Association (newly formed – this is an email link to the president)

South Carolina

State Law Enforcement Division
Regulatory Services
P. O. Box 21398
Columbia, SC 29221-1398
(803) 737-9000
Fax: (803) 896-7041
State law
State P.I. Association

Private Investigator in South Dakota

No P.I. license, but business license through Department of Revenue required.
Main Department of Revenue Office number: 800-829-9188
Department of Revenue Offices


Department of Commerce & Insurance
Private Protective Services Division
500 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243-1158
(615) 741-6382
Web site
State P.I. Association

Private Investigator in Texas

Board of Private Investigators & Private Security Agencies
4930 S. Congress, Suite C-305
Austin, TX 78745
P. O. Box 13509
Austin, TX 78711
(512) 463-5545
FAX: (512) 452-2307
Web site
State law
State P.I. Association


Department of Public Safety & Law Enforcement Services
Bureau of Regulatory Licensing
4501 South 2700 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84119
(801) 965-4461
State law
State P.I. Association

Private Investigator in Vermont

Board of Private Investigative and Armed Security Services
Office of Professional Regulation
109 State St.
Montpelier, VT 05609-1101
(802) 828-2837
State law
State P.I. Association (email)


Department of Criminal Justice Services
Private Security Section
P.O. Box 10110
Richmond, Virginia 23240-9998
(804) 786-4700
State law
State P.I. Association

Private Investigator in Washington

Department of Licensing, Professional Licensing Services
Private Detective Licensing
2424 Bristol Ct., SW
Olympia, WA 98504
P.O. Box 9045
Olympia, WA 98507-9045
State law
State P.I. Association

West Virginia

Secretary of State
Licensing Division
Private Investigator Licensing
Charleston, WV 25301
Web site
Info on requirements  (Scroll down to S.)
State P.I. Association (email)

Private Investigator in Wisconsin

Department of Regulation & Licensing
P.O. Box 8935
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-0829
Web site
Professional Association of Licensed Wisconsin Investigators

Private Investigator in Wyoming

Regulated by local jurisdictions.

How to become a PI

First, locate the agency that regulates Private Investigators in your area. This will most likely be a state agency, like the secretary of state, department of justice, department of consumer affairs. Simply call a general information number for your state and follow all the leads they provide.

Get educated on general legal practices:

Take some classes in Criminal Justice and Civil Procedure.

Reserach PI schools in your area. But be cautious.

Go to a good law library and read up on the following and know what they mean. Also, put this on your resume under education or independent study.

  • Rules and Regulations of Private Investigators
  • Rules of Evidence
  • Burden of Proof
  • Plaintiff and Defendant
  • Prosecution and Defendant
  • The difference between civil and criminal law
    A preponderance of evidence v. beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • The difference between a Tort and a Crime
  • Personal Injury
  • Service of Process
  • Attorney Client Privilege
  • Forensic Photography
  • Preservation of Evidence
  • Witness testimony

Make a budget for yourself:

Make sure you can live on $15.00/hr. This is what you can expect to get paid to begin with. Of course, you may be able to get more, or less for that matter. You should also budget on not getting paid or not working. Most PI companies are small and simply cannot afford to pay someone a salary, and oftentimes they cannot afford to pay you until they have been paid. Keep this in mind as you go applying for jobs.

Find Some Investigators

Go to the telephone book and call the PI’s in the book.

Check out The National Association of Legal Investigators ,
or the Council of International Investigators

Send them your resume and follow up with a phone call several days after you sent your resume. Be smart and be honest. Also, contact the agency in your area that regulates PI’s and obtain from them a list of Investigative companies in your area. You may also do well if you are willing to relocate.

Try to get employed by a Federal Agency that conducts investigations. Example: OSHA, FBI, Secret Service, CIA, etc. All of these agencies have excellent investigators and working for these agencies may be a very good career decision in of itself. And if you choose to go out on your own you can always use your background with these agencies greatly to your advantage.

Also consider a training program in Arson Investigation and begin working for your areas Fire Department. Again, if you decide to go out on your own, you will have that experience as an excellent background.

Another approach would be to study some kind of engineering, hard science, computer science, or accounting. With an educational background in these fields, you can go far in the legal investigative field. ³How?² you may ask. Take, for example, a white colar crime case, where some large business suspects one of itıs executives of misappropriate use of funds. Neither myself, nor most investigators I know could completely handle this situation. We would most likely need the use of a numbers expert. And we know that this can be pricey. Now, if you were able to establish yourself as an expert in audit trails, I am sure you could do quite well in the legal field as an investigator AND an expert witness. And as an engineer, you may understand mechanics of why a crane collapsed and caused injury, hence making yourself very employable.

NOTE: Keep in mind that investigators who specialize will always demand a higher rate than a general investigator.