Private Investigator Salary

So you want to become a private investigator?  One of the first and most important questions that you should research is “how much money does a private investigator make?

If you are looking to make it big and be rich, then private investigating might not be the career for you.  Sure you can make a decent living, but you are (probably) not going to get rich as a private eye.  You should go into the field because you love the work.  You should have a passion for working independently.  The love for the unknown and the challenge should be a motivational factor, more so than the money.

How Much Does a Private Investigator Charge?

Private investigation agencies can charge from $40 to $100 per hour for their time with the average across the country being about $50 to $55 per hour. Changing any more than $100 an hour usually means that you have some sort of advanced degree and you are working in a very specialized field.  Anything less than $40 an hour probably means that you are working in a low income area, you don’t know what you are doing, or you will be going out of business soon.

If you are just starting out and trying to get your feet wet, and you get hired by a private investigative agency, you should not expect to make much more than minimum wage if you do not hold some sort of college degree.  You should expect though to learn a lot in a short period of time and increase your value.

Average Salary for Private Investigators

A professional agency will normally pay salaried employees anywhere from $25,000 to as much as $75,000 per year.  The average salary for a typical Detective is around $41,000 a year. 

Some agencies will pay a percentage based on the number of billable hours.  So if they agency earns $60 a hours, they may pay you 40% of their rate for every hour that you work.  In this model, your pay will all be based on the number of clients that you work with per week or month.

Private Investigator Job Outlook

The demand for private detectives is at an all time high and continues to rise. The Department of Labor estimates that the demand for private eyes will grow 22% over the next decade! This is a much faster rate than other industries. You can expect there to be a lot of job openings in the coming years, but there will also be a lot of competition, so you will need to be on top of your game.

Do I Have to Have a Private Investigator license?

You do not have to have a private investigator license. In some states you can work under the investigative firm owner’s license. You might not be able to perform all the same tasks as a licensed investigator, but you can still earn a respectable living, making anywhere from $20 – $40 an hour. Check our requirements page for all requirements by state.

Visit our job search page to search all private investigator jobs OR to post a job for prospective employees. To report a broken or outdated link, please use our contact page.