How to Become a Private Investigator in New Jersey

how to become a private investigator in new jersey

New Jersey, the Garden State, has many interesting career opportunities, but perhaps the most thrilling is becoming a private investigator. Contrary to what many people believe, private investigation is a very involved career, and can include such high-level tasks as fraud investigation and tracing fugitives and missing citizens.

The New Jersey State Police regulates private investigators, referring to them as private detectives. If you’re interested in becoming a New Jersey private detective, you will need to follow the steps outlined by the state police and pay their mandatory fees.

New Jersey Private Investigator License Requirements

Minimum Requirements

  • Age: Private detectives in New Jersey must be over the age of 25 before a license will be granted.
  • Provisional Requirements: While only residents of the US can become New Jersey private detectives, you do not have to be a resident of New Jersey to receive a license.
  • Criminal Background Check: A background check is required before you will be licensed. You will also need to be fingerprinted, which is the first step in applying for a private detective license.
  • Discharge from Military: If you received a dishonorable discharge from the military, you can still be a private detective in New Jersey.
  • Financial History: Your credit history will be reviewed before your license will be granted. If there are any delinquent accounts on your report, you will have to address each issue before receiving your private detective license.
  • Mental Health Check/Mental Disease or Defect: A psychological background check is not required to be licensed as a private investigator in New Jersey.
  • Insurance Needed: You must have a $3,000 surety bond.
  • Automatic Disqualifications: There are no automatic disqualifications for private detective work in New Jersey.

Education and Experience

  • Degree and/or Accepted Experience: New Jersey has no degree requirements for individuals seeking a private detective license. However, there are experience requirements. You will need either five years of experience in a State, County or Municipality police department, five years of experience in a federal investigative agency, or five years of professional investigative experience with documentation.
  • Written Exams: New Jersey does not have a written exam for private detectives.

New Jersey P.I. Training Courses

Because private investigation requires a very specific skill set, it’s extremely important to participate in training. Typically, private detectives will complete a degree in a discipline closely related to the profession. Some of these degrees include criminal justice, forensics, law, investigation and political science.

Forms needed for Detective License

  • Fees Required: You will be required to pay a $250 application fee and a $65.45 fee for being fingerprinted.
  • Registration Needed: Your first step in receiving your license is to be fingerprinted. After fingerprinting, you must complete an application and submit it to the New Jersey State Police. Documents to submit with your application include a passport-style photo, five character references from citizens who are older than 21, a Detective Surety Bond form and a notarized, signed Authorization for Release of Information form.
  • Maintenance Required for PI License: New Jersey private detective licenses must be renewed every two years. You will submit a renewal form with a current passport photo and updated information.

Salaries — According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In May of 2015, there were 730 private detectives working in the state of New Jersey. This is according to the last available information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The typical yearly salary for a private detective employed in New Jersey in 2015 was $63,480.

Links to State Government Pages or Other State Resources

New Jersey State Police Information for Private Detectives

Salary/Employment Data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

The New Jersey Licensed Private Investigators Association, Inc.