How to Become a Private Investigator in Washington

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How to Become a Private Investigator in Washington

Working as a private investigator in Washington has its benefits.

If you’re thinking about choosing this career, be sure to check out this article for all the important details.

Private Investigator Requirements and Duties

Here are the typical tasks you’ll do as a private investigator:

  • Keeping watch on people by yourself.
  • Using good gear to film events from far away.
  • Taking clear and sharp photos from a distance.
  • Staying healthy to handle the job well.
  • Understanding what clients want and need.

To be a private investigator in Washington, you must be at least 18 years old. Here are some other important points to know:

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  • You need to be a U.S. citizen or legal resident.
  • If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you’ll have to talk about it on a form.
  • Military court trouble might affect your chances, and you’ll need to explain.
  • Your money history won’t affect your chance to become a PI.
  • No need for a mental health check.
  • Every PI must have enough insurance.
  • If you’ve been convicted of certain crimes, you can’t be a PI

Private Investigator Training in Washington

In Washington, you can become a licensed private investigator even if you haven’t gone to college.

You don’t need extra experience besides the required training courses.

But if you’ve worked in law enforcement or private security, you might skip some training.

After training, you must pass a written exam.

First, you need to finish a 60-hour training course within a year of applying.

Once approved, you’ll need eight more hours of training.

Even if you skip some, you still need to finish some orientation and law training.

It is also important to choose where to train.

Let’s have a look at the private investigator programs in this state.


NITA Training Academy offers online courses for aspiring private investigators.

These courses are designed to enhance your detective abilities and get you ready for the licensing exam.

You have the option to choose from a variety of classes, with prices ranging from $99 to $350, depending on your interests.

Some classes also offer extra educational content in this field.

PI Education

If you’re seeking a program before obtaining your license, PI Education provides a 70-hour course.

It’s fully online, so make sure you have a stable internet connection and a reliable computer.

Upon completion of the course, you’ll have accumulated 70 credit hours.

To register, you’ll need to pay a tuition fee of $399.

University of Washington

At the University of Washington Tacoma, you can pursue a Criminal Justice degree either on-campus or online.

This program gives you a broad understanding of crime and justice within society.

Instead of focusing narrowly on one area, it looks at the entire justice system from various perspectives.

You’ll learn about the theory behind criminal justice and how scientific methods apply to it.

The curriculum helps students analyze different parts of the criminal justice system and develop theoretical and analytical skills.

School Name Address
University of Washington 1900 Commerce St, Tacoma, WA 98402
NITA online school
PI Education online school
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Becoming Licensed as a Private Investigator in Washington

To apply, you’ll need $200, and if you want to carry a firearm, it’s an extra $100 for the endorsement.

If you want to become a principal, the fees are as follows:

  • $600 unarmed
  • $700 armed

Keep in mind that private investigators in this state will have to be at least 21 years old to carry a firearm.

The exam also requires a fee.

This is $25 for the certified trainer exam.

If you want to work as a private investigator in Washington, you have to get a license from the state’s Department of Licensing.

Your PI license lasts for one year.

You can start the renewal process up to 120 days before it expires.

Salaries for Private Investigators in Washington

Once you’ve got your license, it’s exciting to start hunting for your first job.

Before you start, you might wonder how much money you could earn.

In Washington, private investigators typically make around $54,602 each year.

But keep in mind, that this amount can change based on where you work, your level of education, and how much experience you have.

For more detailed information on salaries in the state, take a look at the table below.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Redmond $56,202
Woodinville $56,102
Port Gamble $55,202
Startup $55,102
Silvana $55,102
Southworth $55,002
Allyn $54,802
Tahuya $54,702
Roy $54,502
Yelm $53,502

Regional Salary in Washington

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Olympia-Tumwater, WA50- NA -- NA -- NA -- NA -
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA410$69,950$33.63$113,600$39,120
Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA60$50,910$24.48$100,110$34,170
* 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 Washington need a license?

The short answer is “yes.”

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

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 Washington?

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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