How to Become a Private Investigator in Rhode Island

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How to Become a Private Investigator in Rhode Island

Working as a private investigator in Rhode Island has plenty of perks.

But before you jump in, it’s important to understand your main responsibilities and the training you’ll need.

Rhode Island has its own set of rules, so be sure to read through our guide for all the details!

Private Investigator Requirements and Duties

If you want to get your first job, there are important rules to follow.

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In Rhode Island, becoming a private detective means :

  • Having either five years of experience as an investigator or police officer
  • A criminal justice degree from an accredited school
  • Five years of employment under a licensed private detective

Unlike some states, there’s no written exam required for private detectives in Rhode Island.

You’ll also have specific tasks to do each day.

Here’s what private investigators mainly do:

  • They use good cameras to take clear videos from far away.
  • They take great photos from a distance.
  • They stay healthy.
  • They understand what their clients want and need.
  • Having an education in criminal justice or law enforcement can help a lot.
  • Experience in certain investigative or law enforcement jobs might count instead of some or all of the required training.
  • Passing the Phase III state exam and a Phase IV Firearms Exam is necessary if you want to carry a gun.
  • Completing a two-part training program is also a must.
  • You have to be at least 21 years old or older

Private Investigator Training in Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s General Assembly doesn’t endorse specific training courses for private detectives.

The best route to learn the job is by enrolling in a degree program.

A degree in criminal justice not only provides education but also counts towards the experience requirement.

Apart from criminal justice, training in forensics, investigation practices, various forensic areas, and law can also be beneficial.

Roger Williams University

Their Criminal Justice program sets you up for a great career in law enforcement, counseling, or probation.

The university has 3 programs:

  • Criminal Justice Minor
  • Criminal Justice Major
  • Criminal Justice 4 + 1 program

There are requirements for each of these.

The prerequisites are mostly related to the courses you’ll have to attend.

Obviously, the Criminal Justice Major has the most courses.

The Criminal Justice 4+1 program allows you to earn a master’s degree in this subject.

However, they can enroll in this course in their senior year, though they have to prepare for it starting their sophomore year.

Franklin University

Franklin University is a great option for adults who have busy lives and need to manage school alongside other responsibilities.

The university offers a bachelor’s degree program, offered online.

Luckily, you can transfer your credits from other schools to this one, if you want to take less than 4 years to complete your degree.


At the NITA Training Academy, there’s a range of online courses perfect for those wanting to become private investigators.

These courses focus on improving investigative abilities and getting students ready for the licensing test.

Each course has different prices, starting from $99 and going up to $350.

Some classes are tailored for people who want to deepen their knowledge in the field.

PI Education

This institute provides a 70-hour course specifically designed as a pre-licensing program.

The entire program is accessible online, so having a good computer and internet connection is essential.

These 70 hours count as credit hours towards your training.

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

School Name Address
Roger Williams University 1 Old Ferry Rd, Bristol, RI 02809,
NITA online school
Franklin University online school
PI Education online school
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Becoming Licensed as a Private Investigator in Rhode Island

Besides the $5,000 surety bond you have to get, there’s also a $150 license fee to pay.

To get your private detective license in Rhode Island, you’ll need to apply to the area where you plan to work, either the city or county.

Each place has its own way of applying, so you’ll have to contact them directly for the steps.

Of course, you will need to renew your license after a while.

Keeping your license valid might vary depending on where you applied.

The Court of Clerks or another legal office will give you details on how to renew your license.

This state requires private investigators to renew their licenses every 2 years.

Salaries for Private Investigators in Rhode Island

Now that you have your license, it’s time to start looking for your first job.

You might be curious about how much money you can make.

In Rhode Island, private detectives typically earn around $53,402 per year.

To see a detailed breakdown of salaries in this state, check out the table below.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Ashaway $54,302
Exeter $54,302
Adamsville $54,102
Tiverton $54,102
Middletown $54,002
Narragansett $53,902
Wakefield $53,802
Greenville $53,602
Providence $53,602
Coventry $53,502

Regional Salary in Rhode Island

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA190$57,270$27.53$81,880$37,440
* 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 Rhode Island need a license?

The short answer is “yes.”

What are some of the skills needed by PIs in Rhode Island?

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 Rhode Island?

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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