How to Become a Licensed Private Investigator Online

Explore information about licensure requirements and online study options for private investigators. Although individuals cannot become licensed private investigators completely online, they can take advantage of private investigator training and licensing exam prep courses that are available online.

Licensed Private Investigator Overview

Most states require that private investigators be licensed, with specific licensing requirements varying from state to state. Many states require private investigators to be a certain age, have a combination of education and work experience, pass a criminal background check and pass a written examination. Private investigators who wish to carry guns or other weapons may have to obtain additional licenses.

Online Study Options

While you can't become a licensed private investigator online, there are a number of avenues to take to complete education and training requirements, including online private investigation courses and programs. These courses and programs include certificates and diplomas. Topics of study include:

  • Investigation and interview techniques
  • Information gathering
  • State and federal laws
  • Crime scenes
  • Surveillance
  • Undercover work

Online license exam prep courses focus on subjects such as gathering and using information and basic investigative techniques. These courses prepare students to take the licensing exam and are often required in order to obtain a license in the state in which the student resides.

On-Campus Study Options

On-campus courses and degree programs are also available in private investigation, criminal justice or police science. Criminal justice and police science degree programs often offer courses that provide the background necessary for a career as a private investigator. General course topics include:

  • Criminal investigation
  • The U.S. criminal justice system
  • Research methods
  • Criminology

Salary Information and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported average salaries for private detectives and investigators in May 2014. The mean annual salary for this profession was $52,880. However, those working for manufacturing industries, especially aerospace and other fabricated metal products, earned mean salaries of $77,320 and $81,500, respectively. The BLS anticipates a 5% increase in jobs for private investigators from 2014-2024, largely due to concerns about Internet threats, data protection and property safeguarding.

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