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How to Become a Private Investigator in New York

To Become a Private Investigator in New York is different from most other places. The difference is that New York does not require much for you to work as a PI for a Private Investigator agency.

New York state
  • To work as a NY PI you simply need to be registered as support staff for a PI agency. This is basically the only NY Private Investigator requirement to work as a PI.

However, you won’t have a New York Private Investigator's license but you can work as one. You won't even need to take a Private Investigator course or official state Private Investigator training to just work as a Private Detective in NY. This can be viewed as you being a Private Investigator under supervision.

New York Private Investigator Sponsor

To become a Private Investigator in New York, you need to be hired by a local NY Private Detective agency as well as meet the basic requirements. Getting hired as a PI in NY requires experience. If you do not have investigative experience, you should take a PI course that focuses on practical skills: Intro to a Career as a PI 100.

Full NY Private Investigator License

A full New York PI license allows you to work for yourself (your own business.). This requires you to have previous investigative experience. Other than investigative experience, to become a Private Investigator in New York, you need to meet basic Private Investigator requirements such as age, language proficiency, and other usual PI requirements of this nature. Furthermore, you do not need to take a government approved PI licensing course (most other places you do). However, you will need to take a New York government PI licensing test.

The New York State Division of Licensing Services

In New York, the government body that controls licensed NY Private Investigators is The New York State Division of Licensing Services. Once you submit the proof of your ability to meet the requirements and completion of the NY Private Investigator licensing test to the NYSDLS, you will get your New York Private Investigator license. Most jurisdictions will have a PI beginner’s license, New York does not. However, being registered support staff is similar to a beginner’s PI license. This is where your struggle will begin.

New York PI Education

The problem with New York 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.

NY Private Investigator Beginner's License

Your Private Investigator beginner’s license in New York is just being support staff to a PI agency. It will allow you to work for a 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 New York PI agency. However, the term “under supervision” will be in namesake only. You will not be supervised or guided by an experienced 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 operations. This is why practical Private Investigator education and training specifically for Private Investigators is necessary.

Lack of NY Investigative Guidance

This lack of guidance is why so many rookie New York Private Investigators burn out and quit and why many experienced 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.

New York PI

So, the time comes for you to work investigations with no Private Investigator experience or education. If you took a PI course or PI training, it most likely focused on legal matters with no real practical Private Investigator training or topics. You will always be told by 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 get a New York PI license, 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 Private Eye education.

Requirements to Work as a PI in New York

You simply need to be registered as support staff for a NY PI agency. This means you need to be legally allowed to work in NY. Your PI agency is most likely going to want you to have investigative experience. This is where proper PI education can help. Your PI agency will help you with registration.

New York Private Investigator License Requirements

(work for yourself)

You need to have a NY Private Investigator license to operate a PI business

  1. Age: you must be 25yo or older.

  2. Citizen: you will have to be an American citizen.

  3. High School Graduate: you will need a secondary school diploma or equivalent education, such as a GED.

  4. Investigative Experience: you will need three years (full time) of experience as an Investigator for a PI agency or government agency. Or, 20+ years of law enforcement experience. You will need notarized/ verified documents indicating your experience to be submitted.

  5. PI Test: you will need to pass a NY state PI test.

  6. Fee: you will have to pay a $500 PI licensing fee.

Learn more about Private Investigator Online Training

Private Detective Aptitude Test

Apply For a New York PI License

Private Investigator Salary New York


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NY detective