How to Become a Private Investigator in Iowa

Earn your accredited, affordable private investigation career diploma online with Penn Foster!

See more details >>Sponsored

How to Become a Private Investigator in Iowa

Being a private investigator can be fun and rewarding.

This profession is on the rise in Indiana, but you need to have an idea of the requirements first.

Below, we have brought you all the info you need to become successful.

Private Investigator Requirements and Responsibilities in Iowa

In Iowa, private investigators are regulated by the Private Investigator Licensing Services Bureau.

Featured Program

Earn your accredited, affordable private investigation career diploma online with Penn Foster!

Request Information

Popular Programs

The Bureau is part of the  Department of Public Safety and strict rules oversee the state’s PIs.

To obtain this license, individuals must meet certain criteria:

  • Being at least 21 years old
  • AU.S. citizen,
  • Having a clean record both personally and criminally.

Applicants must apply for and pass the PI licensure test, in addition to gaining practical experience in the field.

Many aspiring private investigators opt to enroll in courses to gain knowledge and hands-on experience.

Prior experience in law enforcement can sometimes be accepted in place of formal training.

A minimum of 100 hours of experience is required for licensure, with duties like:

  • Surveillance
  • Remote event documentation
  • High-quality photography
  • Maintaining good health
  • Catering to the needs of clients

Private Investigator Training in Iowa

As noted previously, private investigators aren’t legally required to undergo training.

However, neglecting this aspect entirely wouldn’t be wise.

Training can not only justify higher fees for your services but also enhance your effectiveness on the job.

Specifically, classes or degrees related to law enforcement can be highly beneficial.

While any degree might suffice for this occupation, those with a background in law enforcement are often most relevant.

Specialized training can also help you discern essential equipment from unnecessary or outdated tools.

Every private investigator can customize their toolkit, which may include items like maps, computers, binoculars, cameras, microphones, and vehicles.

Additionally, training typically covers topics such as the NATO phonetic alphabet and common terminology used in the field.

The University of Iowa

This university offers a Ph.D. program for those interested.

The application is done online and a $60 fee is mandatory.

International students must pay $100.

The application has 2 steps, with the first one including the application form and fee.

For the second step, candidates will receive instructions.


This training academy offers numerous online courses tailored for aspiring private investigators.

You can enroll in several classes designed to enhance your investigative skills.

Additionally, there are modules specifically aimed at helping you pass the licensing exam.

The prices for each course vary, ranging from $99 to $350.

Some of the classes are intended for individuals who need to continue their education.

PI Education

This institution offers a 70-hour pre-licensing course, which is fully online.

Upon completion, students will accumulate 70 credit hours.

The tuition fee for enrollment is $399.

Topics covered in this course include:

  • The Fundamentals Of Georgia Criminal Procedure
  • An Introduction To The Georgia Rules Of Evidence
  • Courtroom Testimony
  • Sources Of Information
  • Surveillance & Observation
  • Undercover Operations
School Name Address
The University of Iowa 2900 University Capitol Centre 201 S. Clinton St. Iowa City, IA 52242
NITA online
PI Education online
Featured Program

Earn your accredited, affordable private investigation career diploma online with Penn Foster!

Request Information

Becoming Licensed as a Private Investigator in Iowa

When applying for a private investigator license in Iowa, remember to include the following documents with your application:

  • Two fingerprint cards
  • A total fee of $140 covering fingerprinting, licensing, and ID card
  • Evidence of a surety bond worth at least $5,000
  • Proof of liability insurance that covers accidents, misconduct, and their consequences

To maintain your Iowa private detective license, follow these steps:

Your license needs renewal every two years.

Ensure compliance with initial qualifications and submit the following at least 30 days before expiration:

  • Two completed FBI fingerprint cards
  • Renewal form
  • Proof of completing 12 hours of continuing education
  • Proof of ongoing insurance coverage and a maintained surety bond

You can select suitable continuing education courses as long as they are formal programs enhancing your professional competence.

If you opt for a firearm permit and carry a firearm, it’s crucial to abide by relevant state laws.

Salaries for Private Investigators in Iowa

In Iowa, obtaining and keeping a private investigator license is relatively straightforward compared to many other states nationwide.

But, you are probably wondering about your salary.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private investigators in Iowa typically earn an average annual salary of $48,702.

However, keep in mind that your salary depends on a few factors like where you live and your experience level.

Have a look at the table below for a better understanding of private investigator salaries in this state.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Riceville $50,602
Toeterville $50,602
Scarville $50,602
West Des Moines $49,202
Urbandale $49,202
Slater $48,902
Adel $48,902
Zearing $48,702
Winterset $48,702
Stratford $48,702

Regional Salary in Iowa

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA30$59,550$28.63$96,730$30,540
* 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 Iowa need a license?

The short answer is “yes.”

Where do private investigators work in Iowa?

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 Iowa?

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

Leave a Comment


Earn your accredited, affordable private investigation career diploma online with Penn Foster!

See more details >>Sponsored