How to be a Private Investigator in Texas is similar to most other places: you need to meet basic requirements such as age, language proficiency, have a clean criminal record, and other usual requirements of this nature.
However, there is one large difference:
you do not need to take a "government approved" Texas Private Investigator licensing course or Private Investigator training.
This is a requirement of many states but not Texas.
Texas Private Investigator Sponsor
To become a Private Investigator in Texas, you need to be sponsored (hired) by a local Texas Private Investigator agency as well as meet the basic Private Investigator requirements mentioned before. Getting hired as a TX Detective 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 Level 100.
Texas Private Security Bureau
The Texas government body that controls a Texas Private Investigator's license is called the Private Security Bureau, which is under the purview of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Once you submit the proof of your ability to meet the requirements and proof of a Texas PI sponsor, the PSB will give you your Texas PI beginner’s license. This is where your struggle will begin.
Texas Beginner's PI License
How to become a PI in Texas starts with a PI/ detective beginner's license. Your Private Investigator beginner’s license in Texas is just a regular Private Investigator license. 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 PI license means you must work under the supervision of a fully licensed Texas 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 policing/ military and criminal justice 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.
Working as a Texas PI With no Training
This lack of guidance is why so many new Private Investigators burn out and quit and why many experienced Private Investigators are jaded. On top of this, Private Investigator 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 with no experience or education. Your background in policing/ military or criminal justice will offer little to no real practical Private Investigator knowledge. You will always be told by employers that “soon you will get some 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 Private Investigator 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 with over three years of experience, you will qualify to work for yourself (run your own PI agency). In lieu of three years of experience, a Bachelor’s Degree in criminal justice, a BA in any field + six months of PI experience, and an Associate degree in criminal justice + one year of PI experience will also allow you to run your own Private Investigation agency. Furthermore, having at least 200hrs of Private Investigator education will also qualify you to work for yourself as a Private Investigator. Hopefully, when you are hiring new Private Investigators, you will appreciate the importance of proper PI education.
Texas Private Investigator License Requirements
Age: You must be 18 or older.
Sponsor: You must be hired by a Texas PI agency.
Experience: To be hired, you need PI experience or you should take a PI skills course: Intro to a Career as a PI Level 100.
Criminal Record: You cannot have a criminal record.
American Citizen: You need to be a citizen and submit a copy of government ID to the PSB.
English: You must be able to speak and write in English
Passport Photo: You have to provide the PSB with a certified passport photo.
Fingerprinting: You will need to submit your fingerprints
Fee: You will have to pay a small licensing fee. Consult the PSB for the fee amount.
Submitting: The documents can be sent to the PSB via mail or online uploading.
Private Investigator Salary Texas
Learn more about Private Investigator Online Training
Private Detective Aptitude Test
Texas Private Investigator Business License
(Working for Yourself)
Texas PI license
Business liability insurance
18hrs of continuing education in PI subjects
Two hundred or more hours of PI education
Three years of verified PI experience
BA in a criminal justice field
Any BA+ 1000hrs of verified PI experience
Associates degree+ 2000hrs of verified PI experience
Texas Department of Public Safety
5805 North Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78752-4431
Apply for a Texas PI license online
PO Box 4087
Austin, TX 78773-0001