How to Become a Private Investigator in North Carolina

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How to Become a Private Investigator in North Carolina

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

However, life steered me in a different direction.

Now, I have the opportunity to help you pursue your desired career, regardless of the field:

  • Medicine
  • Law enforcement
  • Technicians

So, if you’re in Illinois and contemplating a career as a private investigator, let my guide illuminate the path forward!

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Private Investigator Requirements and Duties

In North Carolina, there are specific steps you need to take to become a private investigator.

However, if you’re licensed in California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Virginia, or Tennessee, you can also work in North Carolina.

Here are the minimum requirements:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • North Carolina doesn’t offer provisional licenses.
  • A background check ensures you have a good character with no criminal convictions.
  • If you’re in the military, you need to provide discharge information or a letter from your commanding officer.
  • There’s no check on your financial history.
  • While not mandatory for licensing, having bonding is important to protect you from liability
  • Criminal convictions will prevent you from getting licensed in North Carolina

Lots of private investigators decide to join a course to get better at their job and gain knowledge.

If you’ve worked in law enforcement, you might not need to take a course.

You need at least 100 hours of experience to be a PI.

Basic tasks include:

  • Watching people alone
  • Capturing events from a distance with good quality
  • Taking clear pictures from a distance
  • Staying healthy
  • Knowing what your clients want

Private Investigator Training in North Carolina

Before you can get a license to be a private investigator in North Carolina, you need three years of experience doing investigations.

This could be with:

  • A private person, company, or security firm
  • Any US military or law enforcement agency

This experience is like 3,000 hours of training.

One way to get this experience is by getting a degree in criminal justice.

This teaches you how to be a good and legal private investigator and helps experienced investigators with their cases.

You can get this degree from schools in North Carolina or online.

Here’s how much credit you get towards your experience requirement with different degrees:

  • Associate’s degree: 400 hours
  • Bachelor’s degree: 800 hours
  • Graduate degree: 1200 hours

If you want to carry a gun while working, you need to finish the training for armed security guards in North Carolina.

You only need to finish the first four types of classroom instruction for unarmed guards:

  • The Security Officer in North Carolina
  • Legal Issues for Security Officers
  • Emergency Response
  • Communications

If you don’t have the right training for a PI license in North Carolina, you can apply to be an Associate and work under a fully licensed PI’s supervision.


The National Investigative Training Academy provides different online courses made specifically for people who want to become private investigators.

These courses help students better investigatators and prepare for the licensing test.

The cost of each course varies from $99 to $350.

Some classes are for those who want to learn more about being a private investigator.

PI Education

This school offers a 70-hour course meant to prepare you for getting licensed.

The entire course is available online, so having a good computer and internet connection is important.

The 70 hours count as credit hours towards your license.

To sign up, you need to pay a $399 tuition fee.

School Name Address
PI Education online school
NITA online school
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Becoming Licensed as a Private Investigator in North Carolina

Here are the details about fees, registration, and license renewal for becoming a private investigator:

You’ll need to pay $38 for both your SBI and FBI fingerprint checks, along with a $150 application fee.

When you apply, make sure to include:

  • A fingerprint card
  • Proof of high school graduation or college transcripts
  • Proof of citizenship or residency
  • A personal reference questionnaire for each reference listed on your application
  • A DD214 form if you’re a discharged veteran or a letter from your commanding officer if you’re still in the military.

You’ll receive your renewal notice 60 days before your license expires, along with instructions on how to renew it.

Salaries for Private Investigators in North Carolina

The next step you should take after getting your license is to look for jobs.

You might also want to know how much you can earn.

In this state, private investigators typically earn around $48,902 annually, which compares slightly lower to the national average of around $50,902 per year.

Look at the below table so you can get info on salaries in different areas of South Carolina.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Alexis $50,002
Connellys Springs $49,602
Clayton $49,502
Ayden $49,302
Battleboro $49,302
Claremont $49,102
Boiling Springs $48,802
Alamance $48,502
Camden $48,002
Candor $48,002

Regional Salary in North Carolina

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC390$75,060$36.09$98,480$39,520
Raleigh, NC40$58,370$28.06$99,920$30,480
* 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 South Carolina need a license?

The short answer is “yes.”

What are some of the skills needed by PIs in South Carolina?

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

Where do private investigators work in South Carolina?

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

USA Private Investigator by State

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