• Peter Sandru

How to Become a Private Investigator in Michigan

Updated: Oct 23

Becoming a Private Investigator in Michigan is different from most other places. The difference is that Michigan does not require much for you to work as a PI for a Private Investigator agency. You simply need to be employed/ registered under a licensed Michigan PI agency as a Private Investigator. You will get a "beginner's" license/ title for this called INVESTIGATIVE EMPLOYEE. You need a PI employer to get this title. However, you won’t be a full licensed Private Detective (work for yourself) but you can work as one for an agency. This can be viewed as you being a Private Investigator under supervision. A full PI license allows you to work for yourself (your own business). This requires you to have experience or education. Other than experience and education, you need to meet basic requirements such as age, language proficiency, and other usual requirements of this nature. Furthermore, you will NOT need to take a government approved PI licensing course (most other places you do). In Michigan, the government body that controls licensed Private Investigators (called Professional Investigator) is the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Once you submit the proof of your ability to meet the requirements and experience/ education to The Department, you will get your full Michigan PI license. Most jurisdictions will have a PI beginner’s license. In Michigan, this license is the INVESTIGATIVE EMPLOYEE title. Getting this beginner's title is when your struggle will begin.

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Your Private Investigator beginner’s license equivalent in Michigan is just being support staff to a Michigan PI agency with the INVESTIGATIVE EMPLOYEE title. This will allow you to work for a Michigan PI agency, but you will not be able to work for yourself (your own PI company). This means you must work under the supervision of a fully licensed Michigan PI agency. However, the term “under supervision” will be in namesake only. You will not be supervised or guided by an experienced Michigan Private Investigator. In fact, PI agencies are not economically structured to have mentor/ student surveillance teams. Furthermore, a background in non-PI investigations will give you some transferable knowledge but it will not set you up to become a successful Private Investigator. New Private Investigators still need to know how to be successful working surveillance operations. This is why practical Private Investigator education and training specifically for Private Investigators is necessary.

Learn more about Private Investigator Online Training

This lack of guidance is why so many rookie Michigan Private Investigators burn out and quit and why many experienced Michigan Private Investigators are jaded. On top of this, PI clients with small budgets typically get the new unqualified Private Investigators, nobody wins in this situation. It is also not fair to small PI clients to use their files to haphazardly train new Private Investigators.

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

Private Detective Aptitude Test

So, the time comes for you to work investigations in Michigan with no Private Investigator experience or education. If you took a PI course/ PI training, it most likely will have focused on legal matters with no real practical Private Investigator training or topics. You will always be told by Michigan employers that “soon you will get some PI training,” which never happens. It took me over five years to figure out the industry and get good at a few specialized fields. During that time, I struggled and probably lost several hundred thousand dollars due to losing work opportunities from a lack of skill and education. What is sad is that this is a common story in the industry. If you make it through this meat grinder of an industry and obtain an educational degree or experience, you be qualified to work for yourself with your own PI agency. Hopefully, when you are hiring new Private Investigators, you will appreciate the importance of proper PI education.

Full Professional Investigator License (Work For Yourself) Requirements

  1. You need to be a citizen of the United States.

  2. You need to be 25yo or older.

  3. You need a high school diploma/ GED.

  4. You need a clean criminal/ personal record.

5. You need three years of full time experience as a PI or law enforcement/ government agency.


6. You need to have a baccalaureate or postgraduate degree in a criminal justice type field.

7. You need $10,000.00 in liability insurance.

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