How to Become a Private Investigator in Virginia

Private investigators participate in a wide array of activities including investigating the cause damage of individuals or their personal property, investigating crimes or civil wrongdoing, obtaining information on stolen property and acquiring evidence to be used in front of a board, court, investigative committee or officer.

It’s important to note that in the Commonwealth of Virginia, individuals must obtain registration through the Department of Criminal Justice Services in order to become private investigators. They cannot operate independently of a licensed PI business, unless the individual also obtains a PI business license.

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Virginia Private Investigator License Requirements

Minimum Requirements

  • Age: You must be at least 18 years old to become a private investigator in Virginia.
  • Provisional Requirements: Applicants must be citizens or legal residents of the U.S.
  • Criminal Background Check: If you have been convicted of a crime, you must fill out and submit the Criminal History Supplemental Form with your application.
  • Military Discharge: If you experienced a military court martial, this may affect your ability to become a PI in Virginia. You will need to include information regarding your offense in the Criminal History Supplemental Form.
  • Financial History: Your financial history does not have an impact on your ability to become a registered PI in Virginia.
  • Mental Health Evaluation: Applying to become a PI in Virginia does not involve a mental health evaluation.
  • Insurance Needed: Every private investigator is required to maintain a reasonable amount of comprehensive general liability insurance that is determined by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.
  • Automatic Disqualifications: You may not become a private investigator in Virginia if you have a criminal conviction of a misdemeanor involving damage to real or personal property, moral turpitude, controlled substances or imitation controlled substances, firearms, battery and assault or prohibited sexual behavior. If you were convicted of any felony, you may not become a private investigator.

how to become a private investigator in virginia

Education and Experience

  • Degree: You do not need a degree to become a registered private investigator in Virginia.
  • Experience: You do not need any additional experience other than the required training courses for becoming a PI. However, if you have prior law enforcement or private security service experience, you may be eligible for a partial training exemption.
  • Written Exams: At the end of your training course, you must complete a written comprehensive exam.
  • Training Courses: Before you apply to become a private investigator, you need to complete a 60-hour entry-level training course. You must complete this course within 12 months of submitting your application. After your application is approved, you need to complete eight hours of in-service training as a PI. If you qualify for a partial training exemption, you are still required to complete six hours of training orientation and 16 hours of law training.

Forms Needed for Detective License

  • Fees Required: The initial registration application fee is $25.00. The fingerprint processing application fee is $50.00. If you intend on carrying a firearm, there is also a $10.00 fee for the firearms endorsement application.
  • Registration Needed: Individuals wishing to become private investigators in Virginia must apply to become legally registered. If you wish to operate as your own individual business, you also need to acquire a business license.
  • Maintaining Your PI License: You need to renew your PI license every two years. The renewal fee is $20.00, and the firearms endorsement application, if applicable, is $10.00. If you do not renew your license within 60 days after your license expires, you must reapply as an initial applicant, pay the applicable fees and complete the required training.

Virginia Private Investigator Salary and Job Outlook

As with most occupations, the salary for private investigators varies by locality. On average, private investigators in Virginia make $57,100 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those working in the southern portion of the state near the Virginia Beach area are on the lower end of the pay scale at $55,660. Those working to the north closer to the Washington DC metropolitan area are on the higher end at $64,270 per year.

Helpful Virginia Links and Resources

Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Information for Private Investigators

Private Investigator Application Checklist

Search PI Training Schools

Private Investigators Association of Virginia


Education Programs for Private Investigators in Virginia

  • Homeland Security, MA
  • Criminal Justice, MA
Keiser University Graduate School
  • Homeland Security, AA
  • Criminal Justice, AA
  • Homeland Security, BA
Keiser University eCampus
  • DEM - Emergency Management
Capella University
  • BS - Criminal Justice
Capella University
  • MS - Cybersecurity
Capella University
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Public Administration
  • JM: American Legal Studies
  • JM: General
  • JM: Health Law
  • JM: International Legal Studies
  • JM: Special Student (Non-Degree Seeking) - Legal Studies
  • LLM: International Legal Studies
  • MPA: Law & Public Policy
  • MS: Criminal Justice
  • MS: Criminal Justice: Forensic Psychology
  • MS: Criminal Justice: Homeland Security
Liberty University - Online
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - 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
  • DBA - Criminal Justice
  • DBA - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
  • Doctor of Criminal Justice
Northcentral University
  • MBA - Criminal Justice
  • MBA - Homeland Security
Northcentral University
  • 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
Purdue University Global
  • MS in Criminal Justice
  • MS in Criminal Justice: Advanced Counterterrorism & Homeland Security concentration
  • MS in Criminal Justice: Public Safety Administration concentration
Southern New Hampshire University - Online
  • Associate in Science Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with concentration in Criminology
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with concentration in Homeland Secu
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with concentration in Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with concentration in Police Admini
  • BS Criminal Justice w/conc Human Services
  • BS Criminal Justice w/conc in Corrections
  • Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security
  • Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security with concentration in Secure Programming
Southern New Hampshire University - Online
  • AA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Homeland Security
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