• Peter Sandru

How to Become a Private Investigator in Rhode Island

Updated: Jun 19

Becoming a Private Investigator/ Private Detective in Rhode Island is different from most other places. The difference is that Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island PI. However, you won’t be a licensed Private Detective but you can work as one. Your title will be called INVESTIGATOR. This can be viewed as you being a Private Detective under supervision. A full PI license allows you to work for yourself (your own business.). This requires you to have previous investigative experience (5 years). Other than investigative experience, you need to meet basic requirements such as age, language proficiency, and other usual requirements of this nature. Furthermore, you do not need to take a government approved PI licensing course/ test (most other places you do). In Connecticut, the government body that controls licensed Private Detectives is different local jurisdictional authorities. You will have to contact your local authorities to obtain information on a Private Detective license application. Once you submit the proof of your ability to meet the requirements and experience to the local police, you will get your Rhode Island PI license. Most jurisdiction will have a PI beginner’s license. In Rhode Island, it is the INVESTIGATOR title. Getting this title is when your struggle will begin.

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Your Private Investigator beginner’s license equivalent in Rhode Island is just being support staff to a Rhode Island PI agency. You will get a title called INVESTIGATOR. Your Rhode Island PI agency will register you with the government. This 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 Rhode Island PI agency. However, the term “under supervision” will be in namesake only. You will not be supervised or guided by an experienced Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island 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.

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

So, the time comes for you to work investigations in Rhode Island 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 loosing 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 5 years (full time average) of Rhode Island PI experience, you be qualified to work for yourself with your own Rhode Island PI agency. Hopefully, when you are hiring new Private Investigators, you will appreciate the importance of proper PI education.

Working Under a Rhode Island Private Detective Agency Requirements


-You need to be 18yo or older.

-You need to be an American citizen.

-You cannot have a history of mental illness.

-You must have a clean criminal and personal record.

-You will need to be a registered employee under a Rhode Island PI agency. When applying for a PI job, the PI agency will complete an employee registration document to send to the local police's licensing department.

Private Detective License Requirements

-You need to be 18yo or older.

-You need 5 years of full time PI experience or law enforcement experience.

-You cannot have been denied a PI license or have had one revoked.

-You cannot be currently employed as law enforcement.

-A degree in a criminal justice type field can count as hours.

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