The investigative industry is growing all across the United States, and Texas is no exception. In fact, Texas is one of the fastest-growing states in the country when it comes to PI opportunities. According to the BLS data for 2019, the Lone Star State’s saturation of jobs within the investigative industry is well below the national average. Everything is bigger in Texas, and the data shows that this holds true for opportunities in the investigative industry.
The larger metropolitan areas, such as the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area, are especially promising, offering lucrative opportunities with private investigator salaries well above the national average. However, it’s worth noting that opportunities also abound in suburban and rural areas across the state. This post will cover how to become a private investigator in Texas and explore how much you can make as a PI in Texas.
What are the requirements to become a private investigator in Texas?
If you want to become a private investigator in Texas, there are a few things you need to know. The barriers to entry into the investigative industry are reasonable, and the ongoing requirements to maintain your PI license are quite minimal. For example, if you are an agency owner, you only need to complete eight hours of continuing education every two years to maintain your license. Here is a breakdown of the requirements to become a private investigator in Texas:
To become a private investigator in Texas, you need to be at least 18 years old, have a record free of felonies and Class A misdemeanors, must not be ruled incompetent because of mental defect or disease, and must not be required to register as a sex offender in any state. Additionally, you will be required to complete a fingerprint-based background check and pass the state-administered exam. According to the current fee schedule, you can expect to spend less than $75 to cover both the application fee and FBI background check.
According to Chapter 1702 Texas Occupations Code, in addition to completing Level III and IV training, you are required to meet one of the following four experience requirements:
- Three (3) consecutive years of investigation related experience
- A bachelor's degree in criminal justice or related course of study
- A bachelor's degree with twelve (12) months of investigation related experience
- An associate degree in criminal justice or related course of study, with twenty-four (24) months of investigation related experience
Private Investigators in Texas are regulated by the Texas Department of Public Safety and must be licensed under Private Security Act, Chapter 1702 Texas Occupations Code. Upon meeting the experience and educational requirements, aspiring PIs must take and pass an exam with a score of 70% or greater. The Texas Private Investigator License exam is an open-book test that consists of 100 questions and takes approximately two hours to complete. To receive your license, you are required to provide proof of liability insurance and hold a surety bond.
Once you are licensed as a PI in Texas, you are required to keep your license current. Texas requirements are minimal with these specific requirements for license holders:
- All individual license holders must complete a total of eight (8) hours of continuing education, seven (7) hours of which must be in subject matter that relates to the type of individual license held, and one (1) hour of which must cover ethics.
- Private investigators with more than fifteen (15) years of continued licensure as a private investigator must complete twelve (12) hours of continuing education, eight (8) hours of which must relate to investigations, two (2) hours of which must cover ethics, and two (2) hours of which must involve the review of the Private Security Act, Chapter 1702.
- Private investigators with less than fifteen (15) years of continued licensure as a private investigator shall complete a total of eighteen (18) hours of continuing education, fourteen (14) of which must relate to investigations, two (2) hours of which must cover ethics, and two (2) hours of which must involve the review of the Private Security Act, Chapter 1702.
How much does a Private Investigator in Texas earn?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for private investigators across the country is $50,510 per year— or $24.28 an hour. In Texas, the median salary comes in at $56,190, slightly higher than the national median. You can expect to make even more if you work in a major metropolitan area, such as the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where you can expect to earn an average annual salary of $65,990.
Are you interested in becoming a private investigator in Texas? If so, NITA can help you in your career path through self-paced, online pre-licensing training, as well as ongoing continuing education and professional development courses. If you have questions as you get started, please give us a call. We’ll be happy to help you get started!
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