How to Become a Private Investigator in New York

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How to Become a Private Investigator in New York

In New York, folks hire private detectives to look into all sorts of things.

These detectives might check if someone’s cheating for a company, find out who’s making threats, or recover stolen items.

Sometimes, they gather evidence for a court or the police.

If you want to be one of them, you need to learn what are the steps you need to take.

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Private Investigator Requirements and Duties

To be a private detective in New York, you need a license from the New York Private Investigations Board.

This license is important to ensure that investigators are skilled at their work.

Here’s how you can become a private investigator in New York:

  • You need to be at least 25 years old.
  • Proof of Fingerprint completion
  • Proof of a $10,000 surety bond
  • Pass the private investigator exam
    • This has to be done within 2 years right before you apply
  • Be a principal in the business entity
  • 3 years of experience
    • It can be
  • No serious crimes violence, or illegal activities with a gun
  • Those who employ security guards also need:
    • Liability insurance of at least $100,000 per occurrence
    • $300,000 in the aggregate
    • Declaration that the coverage includes:
      • False arrest or false imprisonment,
      • Malicious prosecution,
      • Libel,
      • Slander
      • Violation of the right to privacy.

You should have worked around 6,000 hours in the last five years.

This experience should include:

  • Investigating crimes and threats
  • Researching people
  • Finding stolen items
  • Gathering evidence for court

To get your license, you’ll have to pass a test with 25 questions about the law and how it relates to private investigation.

This includes: 

  • Law Enforcement
  • Military Service
  • Security guard
  • Legal Field

This test is conducted by the New York Regulations and Licensing Department.

The job involves tasks like surveillance, using high-quality equipment, taking photos, and understanding clients’ needs.

Private Investigator Training in New York

In this state, individuals have to undergo training as well.

This is done through courses that can lead to one of these diplomas:

  • Certificate in:
    • Private investigation
    • A related field
  • Associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in the following fields:
    • Criminal justice,
    • Forensic science,
    • A related field
  • Online schools

Of course, the easiest courses to attend are the ones for certificates because they don’t last for very long, as well as the online ones because you can attend from the comfort of your home.


The National Investigative Training Academy (NITA) offers online courses designed for those interested in becoming private investigators.

These courses improve students’ investigative skills and prepare them for the license test.

Course prices range from $99 to $350.

Some classes cater to individuals seeking to enhance their knowledge of private investigation.

PI Education

Another option is PI Education, which provides a 70-hour course tailored for licensing preparation.

The entire course is conducted online, so having a reliable computer and internet connection is important.

The 70 hours count as credit hours toward licensing.

To enroll, you must pay a tuition fee of $399.

School Name Address
NITA online school
PI Education online school
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Becoming Licensed as a Private Investigator in New York

To get a license, you need to pass a written exam first.

After passing, you have two years to apply for your license.

You can apply for a private investigator license as an individual, partnership, or corporation.

Your application should have these documents:

  • A signed DMV Consent form
  • Bond form
  • Receipt from electronic fingerprinting by an approved vendor
  • Application fee of $400 (or $500 for business or corporate licenses and $500 for each branch office)
  • Proof of experience (a sworn statement from each employer)
  • Sworn statements from at least 3 people who know about your experience
  • Proof of earnings for the last 3 years of full-time work

In New York, you need to renew your private investigator license every 2 years.

The renewal fee is $400.

If you are a business, you will have to pay $500.

When renewing, you must also give the Division a Certificate of Bonded Status form.

The Division will send you renewal instructions about 90 days before your license expires.

Salaries for Private Investigators in New York

Once you get your license, you may want to know how much you will earn.

On average, private investigators in this state earn approximately $54,302 annually, compared to the national average of around $50,902 per year.

Salaries for private detectives in New York depend on the region where you live and your experience.

Make sure to check out the table below, as it will give you a good idea of the salaries in various cities.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Woodside $59,802
Woodmere $59,302
Valley Stream $59,302
Yonkers $58,702
Wyandanch $58,202
Amityville $57,002
Amawalk $56,402
Levittown $56,002
Brentwood $55,902
New Suffolk $55,202

Regional Salary in New York

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY80$58,870$28.31$115,900$33,300
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY130$48,020$23.09$77,880$32,490
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA1,740$71,690$34.47$131,950$36,550
Rochester, NY40$49,630$23.86$71,070$30,020
Syracuse, NY40$57,760$27.77$83,790$35,710
* 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 New York need a license?

Yes, you definitely do need a license as a PI.

Where do private investigators work in New York?

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 New York?

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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