How to Become a Private Investigator in Alabama

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How to Become a Private Investigator in Alabama

As a child, I wanted to become a private investigator, yet, life had other plans.

Now, I get to tell you how you can pursue your dream job, regardless of the industry: 

  • Medicine
  • Law enforcement
  • Mechanics

So, if you live in Alabama and are considering becoming a private investigator, read my guide!

Private Investigator Requirements and Duties

In this state, these professionals are overseen by the Alabama Private Investigation Board.

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This means that these investigators need a license to operate.

For this, you’ll have to pass a test and meet the basic requirements.

The licensing requirements are:

  • At least 21 years old
  • American citizen
  • Clean criminal and personal records
  • Apply for the PI licensure test
  • Pass the test
  • Gain experience

Many private investigators choose to enroll in a course to gain experience and learn more about the job.

Having law enforcement experience can substitute for the need to enroll in any class.

The minimum experience needed by a PI is 100 hours.

The basic duties include:

  • Single person surveillance
  • Recording events at high resolution from afar
  • Taking good-quality pictures from afar
  • Being and maintaining good health
  • Understanding the needs of their clients

Private Investigator Training in Alabama

As mentioned earlier, there’s no legal need for a PI to undergo training.

This doesn’t mean you should completely ignore this aspect.

For starters, it can help you charge your clients more, and secondly, it will help you better perform your job.

As mentioned earlier, classes or degrees earned in law enforcement will be the most helpful.

Sometimes, any degree can be accepted for this occupation, despite it not having much in common with the position.

Through specialized classes, you’ll be able to learn which equipment you should own and which are useless or obsolete.

Of course, each PI can create their own set of job-related tools, for instance:

  • Maps
  • Computers, tablets, and peripherals
  • Binoculars
  • Cameras
  • Microphones
  • Car and/or motorcycle

You’ll also learn the NATO phonetic alphabet and common terminology.

Alabama Peace Officers Standards & Training Commission

This Academy uses some of the resources offered by:

  • Northport Police Department
  • Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office
  • University of Alabama Police Department
  • Tuscaloosa Police Department

The resources are their facilities and personnel.

For instance, the Tuscaloosa Police Department’s firing range is used for firearm training.

The basic training is made of 3 sessions lasting 3 months each.

There’s a uniform the new recruits will need to procure on their own.

This institution also offers continuing education classes for these professionals.

Northeast Alabama Law Enforcement Academy

This academy operates on a satellite campus of the Jacksonville State University.

It offers 3 basic training sessions per year.

Each session lasts for 560 hours of training completed over fourteen weeks.

Recruits must reside at the housing facility offered by LEA.

A requirement is for the recruits to be employed by an agency before enrolling.

It is the agency that will be invoiced with the tuition and other fees that must be paid.

However, even if you enroll, there’s no guarantee you can remain in the course, as you first have to pass the endurance test.

It contains of:

  • Pass the agility course within 90 seconds.
  • Do 22 push-ups in one minute
  • Do 25 sit-ups in one minute
  • Run 1.5 miles within 15 minutes and 28 seconds.
School Name Address
Alabama Peace Officers Standards & Training Commission 7601 Robert Cardinal Road, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Northeast Alabama Law Enforcement Academy 100 Gamecock Drive Anniston, Alabama 36205
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Becoming Licensed as a Private Investigator in Alabama

I already mentioned you’ll need to pass an exam and meet certain criteria.

Taking the exam means having to pay some fees.

Simply applying to take the exam will cost you $125 while the exam itself costs $100.

However, applying requires some documents too:

  • Proof you meet the minimum prerequisites
  • A recent photo of yourself
  • 3 sets of fingerprints
  • Form 46

Assuming you get approved for the test and that you pass it, you’ll become licensed as a PI in Alabama.

Your journey is not done yet, as you’ll have to maintain your credentials.

You do this every 2 years by continuing your education and paying a fee of $300.

Those who are late must pay an extra $200.

You have to accumulate 16 hours of education and keep a record of them.

Salaries for Private Investigators in Alabama

All this reading and preparation would be pointless if you got paid a few pennies.

At the national level, PIs earn an average of $50,902 per year.

Annually in Alabama, these professionals earn around $46,802.

Refer to the next table for cities with higher salaries.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Spring Garden $49,702
Toney $48,602
Baileyton $48,302
Adamsville $48,102
Brookside $48,102
Pinson $47,902
Siluria $47,901
Abernant $47,502
Woodville $48,502
Tanner $47,302

Regional Salary in Alabama

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Birmingham-Hoover, AL**$55,780$26.82$77,930$35,900
Mobile, AL30$45,470$21.86$60,370$33,280
Montgomery, AL50$58,890$28.31$82,570$34,460
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Private Detectives and Investigators, OCC Code 33-9021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do private investigators work in Alabama?

Private investigators work for:

  • Private investigation and detective agencies
  • As independent contractors

Independent PIs work for:

  • Law firms,
  • Financial institutions,
  • Insurance companies,
  • Corporations,
  • Government agencies,
  • Police departments

What are some of the skills needed by PIs in Alabama?

These skills are some of the most important for a private investigator:

  • Agility
  • Attention to details
  • Physical strength
  • Discipline
  • Knowledgable of laws and regulations
  • Able to drive
  • Comfortable approaching people
  • Able to use technology and databases

Do all PIs in Alabama need a license?

The short answer is “no.”

People who have similar jobs to private investigators and are employed by a firm, are less likely to need a license.

USA Private Investigator by State

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