• Peter Sandru

How to Become a Private Investigator in Iowa

Updated: Jun 19

To become a Private Investigator in Iowa does not require education or investigative experience. The state of Iowa will issue you an Iowa Private Investigator license if you meet the basic requirements. Furthermore, Private Investigator licenses don't really exist in Iowa. A Private Investigator business license is what you will get. As a PI, you are a licensed Iowa PI business. If you just want to work as a Private Investigator for a PI agency, there are no government requirements other than you being legally allowed to work in Iowa. When you get your PI license, you'll need to know how to perform investigations. After learning how to perform investigations, you can simply work as a Private Investigator in Iowa. It is recommended that you first learn how to perform investigations relevant to the PI industry. The fact that Iowa does not have education/ experience requirements does not mean that the quality of investigations is less in Iowa than in other states. In fact, due to poor state industry standards, having a PI license in general does not make you a qualified Investigator regardless of experience/ education requirements. The poor industry standard come from the non-relevant experience most, if not all, states require of you to become a licensed Private Investigator. This non-relevant experience can be education degrees and non-PI investigative experience.

The Department of Public Safety

Private Investigator Licensing Services Bureau


-You must be 18yo or older.

-You cannot be currently employed as law enforcement.

-You need a clean criminal and personal record.

-You must be an American citizen.

Iowa PI Application Documents

Learn more about Private Investigator Online Training

An industry standard flaw most states have is regulations regarding law enforcement experience. Most states allow you to obtain a PI license if you have law enforcement experience. Some states also accept non-PI investigative experience to obtain a PI license. The problem with states requiring previous investigative experience is that there is no such thing as equivalent Private Investigator experience. Sure, a career in law enforcement will gain you some transferable skills to bring to the PI world. However, an investigative career outside of PI work will not provide you the skill-set to perform what we do the most: single person surveillance for insurance fraud investigations. Furthermore, PIs typically obtain all evidence via quality and litigious video. This is uncommon for most other investigative careers. Being a police officer will not make you a good PI the same way being a PI will not make you a good police officer.

Some states also require you to take an approved PI licensing course. However, these courses typically focus on what laws you need to be aware of. This is of course useful, but new Private Investigators still need to learn how to perform investigations. The required courses do not focus on what we do most: single person mobile surveillance. Often, these courses do not not even mention single person mobile surveillance. If you are becoming a PI, you need at least 100 hours of surveillance experience to be able to perform safely and meet client's high standards.

Another requirement issue is the acceptance of post-secondary degrees. These degrees that are accepted for PI licensing are typically in the criminal justice field. However, some states accept any post-secondary degree. The issue is, having an educational degree will offer almost no help to you in the Private Investigation industry.

Novel Data Investigative Learning offers the only Private Investigator education courses that focuses on mobile surveillance and understanding the PI industry. For more information on PI education, click here.