PI 101

What are the requirements for becoming a P.I.?



The majority of United States states and the District of Columbia require private detectives and investigators to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary, however.

Only eight states have no statewide licensing requirements:

  • Alabama (some municipalities require a city-license, and a state business license is required)
  • Alaska (some municipalities require a city-license, and a state business license is required)
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri (some municipalities require a city-license)
  • South Dakota (a state business license is required)
  • Wyoming (locally regulated)

Some states have very few requirements, but the majority have more stringent regulations.

Mandatory training programs for private detectives and investigators are being established in several states. In California, for example, the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services for the Department of Consumer Affairs has established that private investigators must be at least eighteen years and must have at least three years or 6,000 hours of invesigative experience, background education in a police science, criminal law, or criminal justice. They must also pass a criminal history background check conducted by the California Department of Justice and the FBI. They must also pass a two-hour written examination on laws and regulations and meet additional requirements if they wish to carry a gun.

Most states that require a license also require ongoing continuing education. Those states include Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.