How to Become a Private Investigator in Illinois

Working as a private investigator offers an exciting opportunity to serve your Illinois community in matters of a legal, financial or personal nature. A private detective or investigator works without police authority to investigate cases, gather evidence to be used in court, perform background checks for employers and obtain needed information.

To be successful in this field, an in-depth understanding of local, state and federal laws is necessary. This will ensure that all collected evidence may be used in a court of law. Private investigators in Illinois must have a license in order to work as a private investigator. Qualification requires a combination of experience and education, which we’ve outlined below.

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Illinios Private Investigator License Requirements

Minimum Requirements

  • Age: In Illinois, you must be at least 21 years old.
  • Criminal Background Check: You must pass a criminal background check which proves that you have not been convicted of a felony or that at least ten years have passed since the completion of your sentence.
  • Personal History: Your personal history must indicate that you are of good moral character.
  • Military History: Applicants should not have been dishonorably discharged from the military or another U.S. law enforcement agency.
  • Mental Health Check: Qualified private investigators in Idaho will be psychologically fit to fulfill the job’s required duties.
  • Automatic Disqualifiers: You are not a U.S. citizen; you have a history of drug or alcohol addiction; you are a registered sex offender; you have no experience.

how to become a private investigator in illinois

Education and Experience

  • Accepted Experience: According to Section 15-10(a)(6) of the Private Detective Act of 2004, private detectives are qualified for licensure in the state of Illinois if they have completed three years of experience working for a licensed P.I. or agency. This three years of experience must be completed in the five years prior to application. One year may be completed through a military training program in a relevant field such as law enforcement.
  • Degree: Applicants may fulfill two of the three required experience years by completing a bachelor’s degree or higher in law enforcement or a related field or a business degree. Those with an associate’s degree in the above fields will fulfill one year of the experience requirement.
  • Written Exams: The Illinois Class A Private Detective exam is usually offered twice a year. It will cover subjects such as federal and state law, how to collect and evaluate evidence, case management and safety practices. A licensure application will be sent upon receiving a passing exam score.

Illinois Training Courses

Within 30 days of employment, private investigators in Illinois must complete 20 hours of training by a qualified instructor. A certificate or other proof of your training should accompany your application. Once the form is added to your permanent record, you will not be required to repeat the course.

Forms Needed for Detective License in Illinois

  • Fees Required: Exam fees for the Illinois Class A Private Detective test total $298. The state will also likely require a fee for fingerprints.
  • Required Forms: All necessary documents are outlined on the Illinois private investigator application form.
  • Maintenance Required for PI License: Some employers and agencies may require continued training or education, however it is not mandated by the state.

Illinois Private Investigator Salary and Job Outlook

The average yearly wage for private investigators and detectives in the state of Illinois is $46,840, according to 2015 data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Helpful Illinois Links and Resources

Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation

Study Guide for the Illinois Private Investigator Written Exam

Occupational Outlook Handbook for Private Investigators

Education Programs for Private Investigators in Illinois

  • Homeland Security, MA
  • Criminal Justice, MA
Keiser University Graduate School
  • Homeland Security, AA
  • Criminal Justice, AA
  • Homeland Security, BA
Keiser University eCampus
  • DEM - Emergency Management
Capella University
  • BS - Criminal Justice
Capella University
  • MS - Cybersecurity
Capella University
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Public Administration
  • JM: American Legal Studies
  • JM: General
  • JM: Health Law
  • JM: International Legal Studies
  • JM: Special Student (Non-Degree Seeking) - Legal Studies
  • LLM: International Legal Studies
  • MPA: Law & Public Policy
  • MS: Criminal Justice
  • MS: Criminal Justice: Forensic Psychology
  • MS: Criminal Justice: Homeland Security
Liberty University - Online
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Online Teaching in Higher Education
  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) - Homeland Security
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Emergency Management
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Global Leadership
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Homeland Security Policy and Coordination
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Law and Public Policy
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Public Management and Leadership
Walden University
  • DBA - Criminal Justice
  • DBA - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
  • Doctor of Criminal Justice
Northcentral University
  • MBA - Criminal Justice
  • MBA - Homeland Security
Northcentral University
  • BSCJ – Law Enforcement
  • BSCJ – Juvenile Justice
  • BSCJ – Homeland Security
  • BSCJ – Forensic Psychology
  • BSCJ – Crime Scene Investigation
  • BS in Criminal Justice
  • MSCJ - Corrections
  • MSCJ - Global Issues in Criminal Justice
  • MSCJ - Law
  • MSCJ - Leadership/Executive Management
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Fire Science
  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology
  • Associate of Applied Science in Public Safety and Security
  • Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Management
  • BS in Corrections
Purdue University Global
  • MS in Criminal Justice
  • MS in Criminal Justice: Advanced Counterterrorism & Homeland Security concentration
  • MS in Criminal Justice: Public Safety Administration concentration
Southern New Hampshire University - Online
  • Associate in Science Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with concentration in Criminology
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with concentration in Homeland Secu
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with concentration in Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with concentration in Police Admini
  • BS Criminal Justice w/conc Human Services
  • BS Criminal Justice w/conc in Corrections
  • Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security
  • Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security with concentration in Secure Programming
Southern New Hampshire University - Online
  • AA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Homeland Security
Saint Leo University - Online
  • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
  • Master - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
  • CTU - Criminal Forensics
Colorado State University - Global