Do Private Investigators Need A License?

When people hear about a situation involving a private investigator, they often conjure up images of a rogue detective working under the cover of darkness, playing loose with the rules in a case where the ends justify the means. While there are certainly exciting aspects of the job, the field of private investigation is actually full of oversight and regulation that keep the practice safe, legal, and fair for everyone involved.

Every state in the country except four requires private investigators to obtain some sort of license to work. Pennsylvania is one of the 46 states that do require a license.

First, applicants must meet a number of requirements before even being considered. These include being a United States citizen and being at least 25 years of age. In Pennsylvania, private investigators must also have at least three years of experience as an employee of a detective or law enforcement agency, with a ranking higher than patrolman. Finally, the applicant must not have been convicted of any of a variety of major crimes as determined by the state.

While formal education is not required to become a private investigator in Pennsylvania, a degree in criminal justice, for instance, could certainly provide some of the skills and knowledge that would make a job candidate more attractive for hire.

Once they’re ready to apply, aspiring investigators must report to their county authority, where they’ll be expected to pay a filing fee. In addition, they’ll also need to provide fingerprints, character references, photographs, a surety bond for $10,000, and a license fee of $200. It usually takes a couple weeks or more before the District Attorney issues the license. The license will then need to be renewed every two years.

While the application process in Pennsylvania can be a long and arduous process for private investigators, this helps to assure our clients that we here at Specialty Private Investigators operate with the utmost honesty and integrity, both here in Pittsburgh and across the great state of Pennsylvania.