How to Become a Private Investigator in Pennsylvania

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How to Become a Private Investigator in Pennsylvania

There are many benefits to working as a private investigator in Pennsylvania.

But, before everything, you should learn what your main duties will be as well as the training required.

This state has some specific rules and regulations, so make sure to check out our guide!

Private Investigator Requirements and Duties

To land your first job, there are certain rules you must stick to.

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Additionally, you’ll have specific tasks to tackle every day.

Here’s what private investigators mainly do:

  • They use good cameras to take clear videos from far away.
  • They snap great photos from a distance.
  • They stay fit and healthy.
  • They understand what their clients want and need.

Furthermore, there are other requirements you need to meet, such as:

  • Having an education in criminal justice or law enforcement
  • Experience in certain investigative or law enforcement roles might substitute for some or all of the required training.
  • Passing the Phase III state exam and a Phase IV Firearms Exam is necessary if you plan to carry a gun.
  • Completing a two-part training program is also mandatory.

Here are the rules for becoming a private investigator in Pennsylvania:

  • You must be 25 years old or older
  • Only people who are citizens of the United States can get a private investigator license in Pennsylvania
  • You need to provide fingerprints and pass a background check.
  • If you have been charged with a felony, you can’t get a license.
  • Even if you have been discharged from the military in a dishonorable way, you can still get a license.
  • Your financial past doesn’t affect your eligibility for a license.
  • Your mental health doesn’t impact your ability to become a private investigator in Pennsylvania.
  • You must be able to get a $10,000 surety bond.

Keep in mind that certain crimes automatically disqualify you from getting a license.

These include:

  • Illegal entry
  • Assault
  • Theft
  • Making threats
  • Burglary
  • Illegal weapons use
  • Endangering others
  • Soliciting,
  • Drug-related crimes,
  • Aiding in prison escapes

If you aim to carry a firearm, you’ll need specific training.

Private Investigator Training in Pennsylvania

While it’s not a must, it’s a smart move to improve your skills through training.

The best levels of education are associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice, or related fields.

Getting a certificate is not only helpful but easier too.

Those degrees take between 2 and 4 years to complete and usually require classroom attendance.

A certificate can easily be obtained online in just a few months.


Discover NITA!

This academy offers online courses tailored for aspiring private investigators.

These courses enhance investigative abilities and prepare students for the licensing exam.

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

Some courses are designed for those keen on delving deeper into the field.

PI Education

Interested in PI Education institution instead?

This institution provides a 70-hour course serving as a pre-licensing program.

You can complete the entire program online, so having a reliable computer and internet connection is essential.

These 70 hours count towards credit.

To enroll, there’s 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 Pennsylvania

Here’s what you need to know about getting and maintaining your private investigator license in Pennsylvania:

When it comes to your license, it will cost $200 to get your license.

In Pennsylvania, licenses for private investigators are issued at the county level, not by the state.

You will need to apply with the Clerk of Courts in the county where you intend to work.

Your application should include:

  • Two passport photos
  • Five reference letters from people who have known you for at least five years
  • Fingerprint cards
  • Surety bond.

Typically, licenses are processed within ten days.

You might need to renew your license periodically with the Clerk of Courts.

However, there’s no requirement for continuing education to keep your Pennsylvania private investigator license active.

Salaries for Private Investigators in Pennsylvania

Now that you’ve got your license, it’s time to begin searching for your first job.

You might also wonder how much money you could earn.

In Pennsylvania, private detectives usually make about $50,802 per year.

For a detailed view of salaries in this state, take a look at the table provided below.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Washington Crossing $55,502
Warminster $55,402
Warrington $54,602
Ackermanville $54,502
Abington $54,002
Worcester $53,902
West Grove $53,402
Zieglerville $52,802
Stroudsburg $52,202
Whitehall $51,302

Regional Salary in Pennsylvania

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ70$57,090$27.45$79,980$30,280
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA90$59,810$28.75$75,840$36,920
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD560$59,890$28.79$91,090$31,440
Pittsburgh, PA340$56,900$27.36$75,090$34,510
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA40$52,260$25.13$76,820$27,380
* 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 Pennsylvania?

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 Pennsylvania?

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 Pennsylvania need a license?

The short answer is “yes.”

USA Private Investigator by State

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