How to Become a Private Investigator in South Carolina

In South Carolina, businesses and individuals depend on the information provided by private investigators. Using high-level investigative skills and legal knowledge, private investigators can locate evidence for court cases, investigate a wide variety of crimes and will sometimes work to find stolen property and return it to its proper owner.

South Carolina requires private investigators to be employed by a private investigator agency, which is why many people entering this profession apply for a private investigator business license. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) requires meeting strict standards before a license will be granted.

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South Carolina Private Investigator License Requirements

Minimum Requirements

  • Age: A private investigator in South Carolina must be at least 18 years of age. However, if you plan to carry a firearm while working as an investigator, you will need to be over the age of 21.
  • Provisional Requirements: Only US citizens can apply to be a private investigator in South Carolina. You also may not hold a position that would result in a conflict of interest.
  • Criminal Background Check: You will need to submit to a background check to receive your license, and if your background check reveals a felony, you will not be able to receive your license.
  • Discharge from Military: If you have been discharged from the military, your discharge must either be honorable, general or uncharacterized. Dishonorable discharge make you ineligible to work as a private investigator.
  • Financial History: South Carolina does not examine the finances of aspiring private investigators.
  • Mental Health Check/Mental Disease or Defect: No mental health check is required.  
  • Insurance Needed: To receive your private investigator license, you will need to acquire a $10,000 surety bonding.
  • Automatic Disqualifications: Crimes of moral turpitude and certain pending criminal charges will prevent licensure.

how to become a private investigator in south carolina

Education and Experience

  • Degree and/or Accepted Experience: South Carolina has very specific experience requirements for becoming a licensed investigator. You can either have three years of experience as a police officer tasked with investigation or three years of employment in a licensed investigation business. A PI Study Certificate or associate’s degree counts as six months of experience, bachelor’s degree one year and graduate degrees are 1.5 years.
  • Written Exams: A written exam is not required for licensure as a private investigator in South Carolina.

South Carolina P.I. Training Courses

Training is a vital step on the road to becoming a South Carolina private investigator. The state maintains a list of approved training courses, which can be used either to learn private investigation skills or to fulfill continuing education requirements. You could also pursue a related degree in varying fields like forensics, criminal justice, political science or law.

Forms Needed for a Detective License in South Carolina

  • Fees Required: You will need to pay a $350 license fee to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). This is in addition to the $10,000 surety bond.
  • Registration Needed: The application you send to SLED should be signed, notarized and include the following items: two fingerprint cards, your surety bond, a statement from your Court of Clerks that you have no outstanding civil judgments, a color photograph, a sample contract, disclosure of the principal owners of your business, proof of work experience and forms PD/PS-9 and DD-214 — DD-214 is only for former serviceman.
  • Maintenance Required for PI License: Your license will last for two years. Renewal depends on having participated in twelve hours of continuing education during this two-year period.

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

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide employment or salary information for South Carolina private investigators. The statistics for the national level, however, can give some idea of prospects for this career. The 2015 median pay for private investigators at the national level was $45,610 per year. Private investigator jobs are expected to grow nationwide at a rate of 5% between 2014 and 2024.

Links to State Government Pages or Other State Resources

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED)

Approved Training Courses

South Carolina Association of Legal Investigators

Education Programs for Private Investigators in South Carolina

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice
South University, Online
  • Criminal Justice - Bachelor
Baker College Online
  • Homeland Security, BA
  • Criminal Justice, AA
  • Criminal Justice, BA
  • Homeland Security, AA
Keiser University eCampus
  • DEM - Emergency Management
Capella University
  • BS - Criminal Justice
Capella University
  • MS - Cybersecurity
Capella University
  • B.S. in Criminal Justice
  • B.S. in Human Services / Criminal Justice
  • B.S. in Criminal Justice / Law Enforcement
  • A.S. in Criminal Justice
  • B.S. in Emergency Management & Homeland Security
Post University Online
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Public Administration
Liberty University - Online
  • General
  • General-Advanced
  • 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
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminal Justice - Homeland Security Policy and Coordination
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminal Justice - Law and Public Policy
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminal Justice - Policy Analysis
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminal Justice - Terrorism, Mediation, and Peace
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminal Justice - Emergency Management
  • MS in Criminal Justice - Global Leadership
Walden University
  • DBA - Criminal Justice
  • DBA - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
Northcentral University
  • MBA - Criminal Justice
  • MBA - Homeland Security
Northcentral University
  • MPA - Criminal Justice
Kaplan University Online
  • 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
Kaplan University Online
  • A.S. Criminal Justice
  • B.S. Criminal Justice
  • B.S. International Relations and Security - Cybersecurity
  • B.S. International Relations and Security - Global Security
Indiana Wesleyan University - Online
  • Master of Science in Information Assurance
  • MS in Criminology
  • BS in Criminology
  • Graduate Certificate in Information Assurance and Cyber Security
  • Master of Science in Criminology - Cybercrime and Terrorism Focus
  • Master of Science in Criminology - Human Behavior Focus
  • Master of Science in Criminology - Leadership Focus
  • Master of Science in Information Assurance - Cybersecurity Specialization
Regis University- Online
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice
  • MS in Computer Science - Cyber Security
Lewis University - Online
  • BS in Cybersecurity - Information Assurance
  • BS in Cybersecurity - Cybercrime and Fraud Investigation
  • BS in Cybersecurity - Network Forensics and Intrusion Investigation
  • BS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations
  • Masters in Financial Crime and Compliance Management
  • MBA Economic Crime and Fraud Management
  • MS Cybersecurity - Intelligence
  • MS Cybersecurity - Computer Forensics
  • MS Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations
  • BS in Criminal Justice - General
  • BS in Criminal Justice - Homeland Security
  • BS in Criminal Justice - Legal Issues in Criminal Justice
  • BS in Criminal Justice - Public Policy and Leadership
  • BS in Criminal Justice - White Collar Crime
  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
  • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
  • BS in Criminal Justice - Cyber Criminology and Policy
  • Computer Forensics Certificate
  • Cyber Crime and Fraud Investigation Certificate
  • Cyber Network Defense Certificate
  • Cyber Operations Certificate
  • Cyber Policy Certificate
  • Cybersecurity Technologies Certificate
  • Financial Crime and Compliance Operations Certificate
  • Financial Crime Investigation Certificate
  • Master of Professional Studies in Cyber Policy and Risk Analysis
  • MBA - Cyber Policy
  • MBA - Cybersecurity
  • Monitoring, Surveillance, and Intelligence Operations Certificate
  • MS in Cybersecurity - Electronic Crime
  • MS in Cybersecurity - Malware Analysis
  • MS in Data Science: Cybersecurity
  • MS in Data Science: Financial Crime
  • Online Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation
  • Online Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Fraud Prevention and Detection
  • Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity
Utica College - Online
  • Master of Science Criminal Justice Critical Incident Mgt
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice - Corrections
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice - Criminal Investigation
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice - Forensic Science
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice - Legal Studies
Saint Leo University - Online
  • AA in Criminal Justice
  • BA in Criminal Justice
  • BA in Criminal Justice - Criminalistics Specialization
  • BA in Criminal Justice - Homeland Security Specialization
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