How to Become a Private Investigator in Illinois

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How to Become a Private Investigator in Illinois

As a child, I had dreams of becoming a private investigator.

However, life took me on a different path.

Now, I have the opportunity to guide you in pursuing your dream job, regardless of the industry:

  • Medicine
  • Law enforcement
  • Mechanics

So, if you’re in Illinois and contemplating a career as a private investigator, delve into my guide!

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Private Investigator Requirements and Responsibilities in Illinois

Becoming a private investigator in Illinois allows you to contribute to your community on legal, financial, or personal matters.

However, there are stringent rules to becoming a private detective in this state.

In Illinois, private investigators must hold a valid license to operate.

They also must meet some prerequisites.

Requirements for becoming a private investigator in Illinois are straightforward:

  • At least 21 years old.
  • A clean criminal record is a must
  • No felony convictions within the last ten years.
  • No dishonorable discharge from the military or any U.S. law enforcement agencies.
  • You should be mentally fit to handle the responsibilities of the job.
  • Being a U.S. citizen

Private detectives or investigators take on various tasks like:

  • Investigating cases,
  • Collecting evidence for court use,
  • Conducting background checks for employers,
  • Obtaining crucial information,

To excel in this role, a thorough grasp of local, state, and federal laws is essential.

This ensures that any evidence gathered can be legally presented in court.

Private Investigator Training in Illinois

Private investigators in Illinois are required to undergo 20 hours of training within their first month of employment.

You can only undergo training if you’re hired for less than a month.

This training should be conducted by a certified instructor.

Here are the topics you must study, regardless of the training course you choose:

  • Illinois laws and statutes
  • Arrest and control techniques
  • Identification of terrorists and terrorist organizations
  • Use of force including lethal and non-lethal
  • Public relations and civil rights

After 6 months since you got employed, you’ll have to complete another approved class.

You must also complete a firearms course.

This class can’t be shorter than 40 hours.

Its structure should be:

  • 20 hours of classroom instruction including:
    • Law and the use of force
    • Law, private police, and law enforcement reporting
    • Fire prevention
  • Range instruction in:
    • Combat shooting
    • Double-action shooting
    • Positioning

PI Education

This institution offers a 70-hour course designed as a pre-licensing program.

The whole program is offered online, thus a good computer and internet connection are important.

These hours equal 70 credit hours.

Enrollment requires the payment of a $399 tuition fee.


The training academy offers a variety of online courses tailored for aspiring private investigators.

These courses aim to enhance investigative skills and prepare students for the licensing exam.

Prices for each course range from $99 to $350.

Certain classes cater to individuals seeking further education in the field.

School Name Address
PI Education online
NITA online
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Becoming Licensed as a Private Investigator in Illinois

To take the Illinois Class A Private Detective exam, candidates need to pay $298.

Additionally, there might be a separate fee for fingerprinting.

The Illinois private investigator application form lists all the required documents.

While certain employers or agencies might ask for ongoing training or education, it’s not a state requirement to maintain your PI license.

Meeting the criteria to become a licensed private detective in Illinois involves several components:

Candidates qualify if they have amassed three years of experience under a licensed P.I. or agency within the past five years.

Military training in fields like law enforcement can count for one year of this requirement.

A bachelor’s degree or higher in law enforcement, a related field, or business can substitute for two years of required experience.

Similarly, an associate’s degree in these areas will fulfill one year of the experience requirement.

The Illinois Class A Private Detective exam is usually held twice a year.

This exam assesses knowledge in:

  • Federal and state law
  • Evidence collection and evaluation
  • Case management
  • Safety practices

Passing this exam triggers the licensure application process.

Salaries for Private Investigators in Illinois

All the time spent studying and getting ready would be a waste if the pay wasn’t worth it.

Nationally, private investigators make an average of $50,902 annually.

In Illinois, these professionals typically earn about $52,302 per year which is a bit higher than in other states.

For cities where salaries might be higher, check out the next table.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Cicero $53,702
Winnetka $53,602
Wood Dale $53,602
Mount Prospect $53,502
Aurora $53,302
Yorkville $53,402
Verona $51,002
Thornton $50,802
Sublette $49,902
Bismarck $48,002

Regional Salary in Illinois

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI1,360$67,710$32.55$95,010$38,370
* 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

Do all PIs in Illinois need a license?

The short answer is a strong “yes.”

Where do private investigators work in Illinois?

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 Illinois?

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

USA Private Investigator by State

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