How to Become a Private Investigator in Tennessee

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How to Become a Private Investigator in Tennessee

Are you interested in becoming a private investigator in Tennessee?

It’s a great choice for those seeking an exciting and unique career path.

But before you dive in, remember that you’ll need to undergo some training.

Let’s explore what it takes to become a successful private detective!

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Private Investigator Requirements and Duties

Similar to other professions, private investigators in Tennessee must meet certain requirements.

For Tennessee, these prerequisites include:

  • Being at least 21 if you plan to carry a weapon.
  • Being a citizen of the United States.
  • Having a clean criminal record.
  • Not holding a position that creates a conflict of interest, except for law enforcement officers working unofficially for Premise Companies under the Moonlighting statute.

Additionally, private investigators have daily duties such as:

  • Watching one person at a time.
  • Recording events in detail from a distance.
  • Taking clear photos from afar.
  • Staying physically fit and healthy.
  • Understanding the needs of their clients.

Private Investigator Training in Tennessee

In Tennessee, you can become a private investigator without a degree or work experience.

But to boost your chances of success, it’s wise to work in a private investigator agency or get a relevant degree first.

No written test is needed to become a private investigator in Tennessee.

While some prefer learning on the job, others choose to complete a degree program related to private investigation for a more solid career foundation.

Consider degrees in fields like:

  • Criminal justice
  • Legal studies
  • Political science
  • Forensics
  • Investigation

Now, let’s explore the criminal justice programs offered in Tennessee.

Tennessee Tech University

The Criminology and Criminal Justice Program at Tennessee Tech is part of the Sociology and Political Science Department.

This concentration lets students explore how laws are made, how they’re broken, and how society responds to criminology.

It also covers the three main parts of the criminal justice system:

  • Police
  • Courts
  • Corrections

Students also learn about criminal procedure as part of the program.

The criminology and criminal justice program is part of the sociology major.

Students in this concentration learn about:

  • Sociological theory
  • Research methods
  • Data analysis

They take classes covering various topics like:

  • Criminology
  • Policing
  • Corrections
  • Criminal procedure
  • Youth justice

There are also elective courses available, such as:

  • Social deviance
  • Crime and media
  • Victimology
  • Cybercrime
  • Violence in the US
  • White-collar crime
  • Sexual offenses

While not mandatory, many students choose to do internships with local or state agencies, like the Cookeville Police Department or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

To finish the concentration in criminology and criminal justice, students need to complete the required core of 27 hours.

They must also take specific courses like:

  • Criminology
  • Introduction to Law Enforcement
  • Criminal Law & Procedure
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Advanced Criminal Procedure
  • Corrections

Additionally, they need to take introductory courses in philosophy and American government.

Finally, they must complete 12 hours of elective courses chosen from:

  • Sociology
  • Criminal justice
  • Social work classes
School Name Address
Tennessee Tech University 1 William L Jones Dr Cookeville, TN 38505
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Becoming Licensed as a Private Investigator in Tennessee

You’ll need to cover several fees to apply, including a $150 application fee, a $60 fingerprinting fee, and a $100 initial license fee.

There is also a registration process you have to go through.

Once you meet the basic requirements, you can apply with the Department of Commerce and Insurance.

To get approval, you’ll need to send:

  • Three sets of fingerprints
  • A letter of endorsement or affiliation from a licensed agency
  • Two-color passport photos
  • Details about any past criminal activity

Once your application is accepted, you’ll receive your license.

Your private investigator license has to be kept valid, otherwise you will not be able to work anymore.

In South Dakota, your private investigator license must be renewed every two years.

To renew, you’ll need to show proof of completing twelve hours of approved continuing education and pay a $100 fee.

Salaries for Private Investigators in Tennessee

After obtaining your license, it’s time to think about landing your first job.

Before you begin your search, it’s natural to wonder about your potential earnings.

In Tennessee, private investigators typically earn around $46,802 annually.

But, this figure can differ based on factors like where you work, your education, and your experience.

For more insights into salaries in the state, refer to the table below.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Tullahoma $48,302
Alexandria $47,102
Auburntown $47,102
Christiana $47,102
Bogota $46,802
Burlison $46,802
Winchester $47,502
Winfield $46,402
Townsend $46,402
Woodlawn $46,202

Regional Salary in Tennessee

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Knoxville, TN70$55,790$26.82$99,710$24,960
Memphis, TN-MS-AR200$61,510$29.57$91,020$35,360
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN200$56,460$27.15$98,820$31,390
* 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 Tennessee need a license?

The short answer is “yes.”

This is especially true for private investigators who need to carry a weapon.

What are some of the skills needed by PIs in Tennessee?

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 Tennessee?

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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