They say that everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes working as a private investigator. As a PI, you’ll be responsible for some of the most important investigative jobs that there are, including fraud detection, personal background checks, missing persons location and recovery of stolen property.
When looking into how to become a private investigator in Texas, you must be aware that Texas considers private investigators to be a form of private security, and holds very strict licensure requirements for anyone seeking entry into this profession. Following the professional requirements that have been outlined by the Texas Department of Public Safety will allow you to earn your license and seek employment in private investigation.
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Texas Private Investigator License Requirements
- Age: A Texas private investigator should be 18 years of age or older.
- Provisional Requirements: You must be legally allowed to work in the United States to earn a license.
- Criminal Background Check: Background checks are required for anyone wishing to work as a private investigator in Texas.
- Discharge from Military: If you have been dishonorably discharged from the military, you cannot work as a Texas private investigator.
- Financial History: Your finances are not a determining factor when becoming a licensed private investigator in this state.
- Mental Health Check/Mental Disease or Defect: Having been declared incompetent by a court of law due to mental disease will prevent you from receiving a private investigator license.
- Insurance Needed: No insurance is necessary to become licensed in this state.
- Automatic Disqualifications: If you have been convicted of a Class B misdemeanor in the previous five years, are currently charged with a Class A or Class B misdemeanor, are charged with a felony or are required to register as a sex offender, you cannot receive a license.
Education and Experience
- Degree and/or Accepted Experience: Texas requires that you either have three years of full-time private investigator experience or a four-year degree in criminal justice in a related field. Additionally, you must be sponsored by a licensed investigator, which means you must be employed in a private investigation agency.
- Written Exams: Texas does not require a written exam to be licensed as a private investigator.
Texas P.I. Training Courses
You are required to complete 40 hours of Level III or Level IV training from a school approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Training courses cover multiple areas related to private investigation work, including first aid, crowd control, observing, weapons, disaster response, traffic direction and ethics. After you have completed and submit proof of training, you will be able to submit your license application.
Forms Needed for a Detective License in Texas
- Fees Required: A $33 application fee and a $25 application fee must be paid directly to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
- Registration Needed: You will apply on the online system provided by the Department of Safety. Create an account and then follow the provided instructions. You will need to mail two fingerprint sets or an electronic fingerprint receipt directly to the Department. If your application is approved and your criminal history is clean, you will receive your license.
- Maintenance Required for PI License: You will also renew your license online through the Texas Online Private Security (TOPS) system. Renewal takes place every two years.
Salaries — According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Texas has one of the largest private investigator workforces in the country. Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 3,320 PIs were working in Texas in May of 2015. If you choose to work as a private investigator in Texas, your salary will average $49,460 per year.