top of page

How to Become a Private Investigator in West Virginia

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

West Virginia
  • To work as a PI you simply need to be employed under a West Virginia PI agency.


You won't even need a Private Investigator course or to take official state Private Investigator training to be able to work as a PI. However, you won’t be a licensed West Virginia PI but you can work as one. This can be viewed as you being a Private Investigator under supervision.

West Virginia Private Investigator Sponsor

To become a Private Investigator in West Virginia, you need to be hired by a local Private Investigator agency as well as meet the basic requirements. Getting hired as a PI in West Virginia 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 WV Private Investigator License

A full West Virginia Private Investigator's 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 West Virginia, you need to meet basic WV 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).

  • Another difference is that West Virginia does not require you to take a government PI test.

West Virginia Secretary of State: PI Licensing

The government body that controls licensed Private Investigators is the licensing division under the West Virginia Secretary of State. Once you submit the proof of your ability to meet the requirements to the licensing division, you will get your PI license. Most jurisdictions will have a PI beginner’s license, West Virginia does not. However, being a registered employee to a West Virginia PI agency is similar to a beginner’s PI license. This is where your struggle will begin.

WV Private Investigative Experience

The problem with West Virginia 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.

Learn more about Private Investigator Online Training

Private Detective Aptitude Test

Private Investigator Salary West Virginia

Download WV Private Investigator Application

WV Private Investigator License Info

Private Investigator Licensing Division

West Virginia Secretary of State

1900 Kanawha Blvd., East Bldg. 1

Suite 157-K Charleston, WV 25305


Your Private Investigator beginner’s license in West Virginia is just being registered staff to a West Virginia 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 West Virginia PI agency. However, the term “under supervision” will be in namesake only. You will not be supervised or guided by an experienced WV 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.

become a pi in WV

This lack of guidance is why so many rookie West Virginia Private Investigators burn out and quit and why many experienced WV 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.

  1. Be of proper age.

  2. Be a citizen.

  3. Pay a license fee.

  4. Have PI experience.

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 PI industry. If you make it through this meat grinder of an industry and get a West Virginia PI license/ relative education/ investigative 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.

WV Beginner Private Investigator License Requirements

PI Employee

You simply need to be an employee under a West Virginia PI agency. This means you need to be legally allowed to work in WV. Your PI agency is most likely going to want you to have investigative experience. This is where proper PI education can help.

Full West Virginia Private Investigator License Requirements

Work for Yourself

  1. You need to have a West Virginia PI license to operate a PI business.

  2. Age: You must be 18yo or older.

  3. Citizen: You will have to be an American citizen.

  4. Fee: You will have to pay a small PI licensing fee.

  5. Investigative Experience: You will need two years (3200hrs) of experience as an Investigator for a PI agency.


Related Education

This will typically be post-secondary education in a criminal justice type field. Contact the licensing division for a list of equivalent education.

Apply For a VW Private Investigator License

Thinking of Becoming a West Virginia Private Investigator?

“ICPI Level 100 online Private Investigator Training” is the ultimate blueprint to start your exciting and rewarding career as a real West Virginia Private Investigator.

ICPI will help you start successfully in this amazing new career, even if you know nothing about investigations.

Our team has vetted out the best training and investigative methods so that you can jump-start your journey towards having the meaningful career you’ve always wanted, immediately.

This training system will provide you, a successful detective, with all the templates that you need to succeed. A clear path on becoming a PI, understanding the PI business, becoming a successful PI, and thinking like a detective- all the tools you need to make six figures being an investigative Operative.

To date, this online PI training system consists of over 100 informational slides, videos, exercises and quizzes that provide a step-by-step path on how to achieve your dream job as a Private Investigator.

ICPI Level 100 takes about two weeks to complete with over 30 hours of high-quality training content that will make you a Private Investigator well on your way to becoming an expert in this fascinating career.


Get a certificate that "actually" matters. When you get certified by Novel Data in the 100 Level course, Private Investigator agencies will be aware that you understand the PI industry. This will give you a great competitive edge in the PI job market. Most PI applicants know very little about the PI job they are applying to. Not you. A PI hiring manager will not want to risk turnaround by hiring someone unfamiliar with the industry, they will choose an applicant who is familiar with what will be expected of them. With Novel Data's certification, that applicant will be you!

WV detective

Become a Great West Virginia PI

Yes, you can become a great West Virginia Private Investigator. How? Through Private Investigator education. Not through the short West Virginia government licensing course, but through at least 100hrs of practical Private Investigator education. This can be online Private Investigator training classes or in an in-class training environment. In order to become a successful West Virginia Private Investigator and meet Private Investigator requirements, you need to become educated on the complexities of the private investigation industry (this will also help you decide if you want to pursue the Private Eye career) and how to set yourself up to become a successful Private Investigator. Secondly, you will need to become educated on how to perform investigations.

To learn the complexities of the West Virginia private investigation industry you will need to understand a few Private Investigator industry topics. Regional licensing requirements for Private Investigators will teach you what you need to obtain your West Virginia Private Investigator license. To help you decide if you want to enter the career of private investigation you, will have to learn the common misconceptions about the Private Investigation industry. Understanding the learning curve of a Private Investigator will set you up to become a successful PI.

pi license

Before entering the West Virginia PI industry, it is useful to know the challenges encountered as a Professional Private Investigator. This will also help you make career decisions. Then you need to learn what you will be doing as a Private Investigator. Learning the areas of specialization as a Professional Private Investigator and types of clients and corresponding file requirements will help with this. You will need to learn how West Virginia Investigators obtain assignments and hours of work to determine if this work environment is right for you.

If you are concerned about your ability to perform as a West Virginia Private Investigator and how to be a Private Investigator that is successful, learning what factors will determine your aptitude as a Professional Private Investigator and what makes a “good” Professional Private Investigator will be essential. It is also important to know the physical and health requirements and health considerations. Then there is equipment. Learning about equipment needed in order to get started in a career as a Professional Private Investigator is a must.

Furthermore, you will need to educate yourself on communication devices and their role in private investigation. Lastly and most importantly, you must learn “The Investigative Mindset.” This will teach you how to think like a Private Investigator. After you learn these concepts, you will be well on your way to becoming a Private Investigator even without experience.

After learning the complexities of the West Virginia private investigation industry, you will need to develop practical skills in various areas. The most important areas are Desk Investigations, Pre-surveillance, surveillance, mobile vehicle surveillance, on-foot surveillance, obtaining evidence, and litigious reporting. To learn Desk Investigations, you will need to understand what is a Desk Investigation, Desk Investigation nomenclature, corroborated/ circumstantial evidence, The Evidence Document, The Desk Investigators Mindset, Google Basics for North America, and social media search basics for North America. Surveillance will be the largest subject to learn. Under this field you should learn about setting up a proper surveillance vehicle, surveillance spot checks, and surveillance set ups for various investigative operations.

As a West Virginia Private Investigator, you will spend the majority of your time performing investigations solo. This is why learning single person surveillance is crucial. Furthermore, you will occasionally work in surveillance teams, so you will need to learn how to perform surveillance with two or more surveillance operatives. West Virginia Private Investigators perform a lot of their surveillance from a surveillance vehicle, but also on foot, you will need to learn this also. The entire reason West Virginia Private Investigators are hired, is to obtain evidence. Obviously, learning how to obtain evidence, mostly in video form, is a must. As a West Virginia Private Investigator, you will need to obtain quality video that is litigious and that will satisfy your client. At the end of all this, you will need to learn how to create an investigative report that will most likely be used in litigation. After you learn all of this, you will have no trouble becoming a successful West Virginia Private Investigator.

It should be apparent now, why and how you can become a West Virginia Private Investigator. Yes, the government licensing course is necessary but it will not set you up for success as a Private Investigator. You will always need at least 100hrs of practical Private Investigator education. You will need to learn the PI industry, as well