How to Become a Private Investigator in Rhode Island

Even in a small state like Rhode Island, there is still the need for private investigators. Private investigators specialize in finding the information that other people cannot, and can perform such vital services as recovering stolen property, identifying the culprit of violent crimes or threats, discovering fraud in a business or locating evidence to be used by the courts or police officers.

Although the General Assembly in Rhode Island maintains standards for the profession, application and licensure occurs at the local level. Once you meet the minimum requirements for Rhode Island private detectives, as they are referred to in this state, you can apply for a license wherever you plan to work.

Rhode Island Private Investigator License Requirements

Minimum Requirements

  • Age: Applicants for a Rhode Island private detective license should be over the age of 18.
  • Provisional Requirements: You must be a citizen of the United State to receive a private detective license in Rhode Island.
  • Criminal Background Check: A criminal history check is required for anyone seeking a private detective license in Rhode Island. A felony charge automatically excludes you from licensure.
  • Discharge from Military: Rhode Island does not examine military discharges when considering a candidate for a private detective license.
  • Financial History: You can receive a private detective license without having your financial history examined.
  • Mental Health Check/Mental Disease or Defect: If you have ever been declared incompetent due to a mental defect, you will have to prove that a court restored your competency before you will be licensed.
  • Insurance Needed: A Rhode Island private detective is required to obtain a $5,000 surety bond prior to licensure.
  • Automatic Disqualifications: If you have ever had a private investigator license revoked or application denied in another state, you cannot be licensed in Rhode Island. Additionally, anyone who suffers from a narcotic or alcohol addiction is disqualified, unless they can prove they have completed a recovery program.

Education and Experience

  • Degree and/or Accepted Experience: Like many states, Rhode Island mandates private detectives acquire experience prior to licensure. You either need five years of experience as an investigator or police officer, a criminal justice degree from an accredited institution or have been employed by a licensed private detective for a period of five years.
  • Written Exams: There is no written exam for private detectives in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island P.I. Training Courses

The State of Rhode Island General Assembly does not certify courses to train private detectives. The best way to learn how to work as a private detective is to enroll in a degree program, which can also fulfill the work requirement if you earn an accredited criminal justice degree. In addition to criminal justice programs, private detectives can also complete programs in forensics, practices of investigation, multiple areas of forensic and the law.

Forms Needed for Detective License

  • Fees Required: In addition to the required $5,000 surety bond, you will need to pay a $150 license fee.
  • Registration Needed: Applications for private detective licenses in Rhode Island will be submitted to the jurisdiction in which you plan to work, whether at the city or county level. For specific application instructions, you will need to directly contact the city or county, as every jurisdiction has their own application procedure.
  • Maintenance required for PI license: Maintenance for license may depend on the jurisdiction where you have applied. The Court of Clerks or other legal authority will have more information about license renewal.

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

As you would expect from a small state like Rhode Island, very few detectives work in this area. According to the 2015 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 60 private detectives work in Rhode Island for an average yearly salary of $46,180.

Links to State Government Pages or Other State Resources

Rhode Island Private Detective Act

Rhode Island General Assembly

Licensed Private Investigators Association of Rhode Island