• Peter Sandru

How to Become a Private Investigator in Wisconsin

Becoming a Private Investigator/ Private Detective in Wisconsin is similar to most other places: you need to meet basic requirements such as age, language proficiency, and other usual requirements of this nature. Furthermore, you need to take a government PI licensing exam. Also, you will need to be sponsored/ employed by a Wisconsin PI agency in order to get a license. In Wisconsin, the government body that controls licensed Investigators is the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. So, it is the WDSPS that will administer the PI exam. Once you submit the proof of your ability to meet the requirements and a PI agency sponsor, you will be contacted regarding the PI exam. After you complete the Wisconsin PI exam, the WDSPS will give you your PI license. Most jurisdiction will have a PI beginner’s license, Wisconsin does not. You will get to start out with a full Private Investigator license. This is where your struggle will begin.

Private Detective Aptitude Test

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Your Private Investigator beginner’s license in Wisconsin 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). In Wisconsin, they use the term Private Detective so it will be a Private Detective license you'll have. This PI license means you must work under the supervision of a fully licensed Wisconsin 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, the Wisconsin PI licensing exam 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.

Private Detective License Requirements

  1. You must be 18yo or older.

  2. You need a high school diploma/ GED.

  3. You need a clean criminal and personal record.

  4. You must be an American citizen.

  5. You must be sponsored/ employed by a Wisconsin PI agency.

  6. You need to take a PI license exam. After you submit your application, you will be contacted regarding information on the exam. PI application.

  7. You need to include an authorization of release of information document and include it in the application. Authorization of release of information document.

  8. If you you would like leave/ quit a PI agency and work for another, you need a transfer document.

Mail Application:


P.O. Box 8935

Madison, WI 53708-8935

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This lack of guidance is why so many new Wisconsin Private Investigators burn out and quit and why many experienced Wisconsin 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.

Private Detective Aptitude Test

So, the time comes for you to work investigations in Wisconsin with no Private Investigator experience or education. The licensing exam you took 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 and get a Wisconsin Private Investigator business license, you will 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.

For more information on opening Wisconsin PI agency, click here.

More information on Wisconsin licensing

Thinking of Becoming a Wisconsin Private Investigator?

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To date, this online 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.

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Get a certificate that "actually" matters. When you get certified by Novel Data in the 100 Level course, Wisconsin 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!