How to Become a Private Investigator in New York

how to become a private investigator in new york

In New York, working as a private investigator can be a truly exciting career. Private investigators will find tremendous employment opportunity in this state, whether they work independently or for an existing detective agency. Common tasks of a private investigator include finding evidence to be used in court cases, investigating violent crimes and threats of violence, recovering stolen property and researching people and businesses.

The New York Division of Licensing Services maintains strict guidelines that you will need to follow to be granted a private investigator license.

New York Private Investigator License Requirements

Minimum Requirements

  • Age: A private investigator in New York must be at least 25 years of age.
  • Provisional Requirements: If you are applying to start a private investigator agency instead of an individual license, you must be the principal owner of the business.
  • Criminal Background Check: A criminal background check is required before you will be licensed by the state of New York. If you’ve committed any felonies, you must disclose this on your application and provide documentation about the crime.
  • Discharge from Military: Being discharged dishonorably from the military will not be an obstacle to receiving your private investigator license.
  • Financial History: You will be required to submit proof of three years’ worth of earnings.
  • Mental Health Check/Mental Disease or Defect: In New York, applicants for a private investigator license are not required to submit to a mental wellness check.
  • Insurance Needed: A $10,000 surety bond is required for anyone seeking to become a licensed private investigator in New York.
  • Automatic Disqualifications: There are no issues that would automatically disqualify you from receiving a private investigator license.

Education and Experience

  • Degree and/or Accepted Experience: Work experience is required before being licensed in New York. Three years of experience as a licensed private investigator, three years of equivalent experience where investigation was your primary duty or three years supervising at least three investigators will fulfill this requirement. Also, 20 years of experience as either a police officer or Fire Marshall will make you eligible.
  • Written Exams: All applicants to be a New York private investigator will be required to pass a private investigator exam that is offered by the state. You will need to pay $15 and score 70% or higher.

New York P.I. Training Courses

Certified training is not required for private investigators in New York. That being said, receiving training and education is the best way to guarantee a successful investigative career. To make sure you have the necessary private investigation skills, you should choose an accredited degree related to private investigation. This can include criminal justice, law, computer forensics, investigation and political science.

Forms needed for Detective License

  • Fees Required: The initial application fee for an individual private detective license in New York is $400. There will also be a fingerprinting fee, which is $87.25.
  • Registration Needed: You must take and pass the private investigators exam prior to application. After earning a passing grade, you will fill out your application and include your surety bond form, proof of your work experience, a DMV consent form, a receipt from an electronic fingerprinting vendor and 5 character statements from people who know you in the community you plan to operate in.
  • Maintenance Required for PI License: New York private investigator licenses are good for two years. When they are set to expire, you will need to pay a $400 renewal fee.

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

The employment numbers collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that there were 1,360 private investigators working in the state of New York in 2015, and that the average yearly salary for those investigators was $59,410.

Links to State Government Pages or Other State Resources

New York Division of Licensing Services Private Investigator FAQ

2015 Employment Numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Associated Licensed Detectives of New York State