How To Become A Private Investigator In New York | Schools, Requirements,

If you are good at digging deep truths and facts of any case and you want to take it up as a career, then becoming a private investigator is the right career for you.

To be exceptional in this career, you must know everything it entitles beyond just digging truths. This article has been written to give you detail information on how to become a professional private investigator in one of the biggest states in the USA.

New York is among the US states with the highest level of private investigator employment. That means you will have many job opportunities once you have an NYC license as a private investigator.

So, if you are passionate about building this career, we will advise you to read this article carefully.

Before we continue, let’s go through the table of content below to get an overview of what the article entails.

Who Is A Private Investigator?

A private investigator or detective is a person who can be hired by individuals or groups to undertake investigatory law services. Private investigators often work for attorneys in civil and criminal cases.

Also, they dig into things, find facts, and analyzes information about legal, financial, and personal matters. 

Furthermore, a PI can work either as full-time staff or contract staff with private detective firms, police departments, private businesses, attorneys, and organizations, as well as individual clients.

Also, private investigators are not state-employed officials, they don’t have special rights for carrying weapons. Basically, they have the same ability to carry a gun as any other citizen.

What Are The Roles Of A Private Investigator?

There are a lots of activities private investigators engage themselves in like, searching for information about legal, financial, and personal matters. They offer many services, such as verifying people’s backgrounds and statements, finding missing persons, and investigating computer crimes.

Also, there are other things private investigators/detectives do that are:

  • A PI interview people to gather information
  • They search online, public, and court records to uncover clues
  • Also, private detectors conduct surveillance
  • They collect evidence for clients
  • Private investigators check for civil judgments and criminal history.

Why Do You Need to Become a Private Investigator in New York?

You need to become a private investigator considering a place like New York for many reasons.

New York is one of the biggest states that have numerous job opportunities for private investigators. That means once you become a private investigator with a New York license, you are sure of securing a legal job immediately.

Furthermore, Private detectives and investigators offer many services for individuals, attorneys, and businesses. Like performing background checks, investigating employees for possible theft from a company, proving or disproving infidelity in a divorce case, and helping to locate a missing person.

 Also, they can work with insurance companies and employers to verify on-the-job injury claims. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), New York’s private investigators earned an annual, average salary of $53,700.

What Education Qualification Do You Need To Become A PI In New York?

PI  can take a variety of paths into the profession. So, before becoming a private detective in New York you must have the following education or academic qualifications.

  • Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • You must have an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field.
  • You must consider obtaining work experience in the military or as a police officer.
  • Also, you must obtain licensure according to state guidelines.

What are New York Private Investigator License Requirements?

To get a license in New York to practice private investigation, it requires specific requirements. Like background, age, education, and training.

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In other words, state licensure ensures that private investigators work within the parameters of the law at all times and adhere to a strict set of laws and regulations.

Also, requirement for state licensure differ from state to state, although most states require the following:

  • Firstly, you must have a high school diploma or GED
  • You must be at the minimum age (state requirements range from 18 to 25)
  • You must have a clean criminal record of felony convictions or convictions involving crimes of moral actions.
  • Also, have an Industry experience and/or a college education
  • A United States citizen or legal resident.

In addition, Some states require passing a state jurisprudence examination before becoming licensed, while other states require the completion of continuing education during every license renewal period.

A standard requirement for licensure as a private investigator is a thorough background invest investigation, which often involves providing the licensing board or agency with a full set of fingerprints.

What Skill Are Required As A Private Detective?

Being a successful private detective, requires you to exhibit some particular traits and skills that will prove useful in this particular line of work.

But, if you don’t have these skills, it will cost you many business opportunities or cost. Here are the skills required to become a private detective in New York.

#1. Effective Communication Skills

To be a successful private investigator, you must have a good communication skills. Because you will be asking people some questions that, if they should decide to hold back answers, your investigation will suffer a setback.

So persuading, convincing, and listening to people is vital.

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#2. Computer Proficiency

Another critical skill that you need as a private investigator is the ability to use the computer to conduct research on the Internet and search for information needed to work on the assignment.

Like you being able to locate hidden information about a person. Also, this skill is important because without credible information, a case may go unresolved.

#3. Sound Knowledge Of The Law

In the United States of America, there are laws that restrict certain actions to only police and law enforcement agencies. So, if you do not have a good working knowledge of the law where you are operating, you may engage in some illegal activities, such as illegal bugging or wiretapping.

And this may revoke you, your licensure when caught, Irrespective of how convincing the evidence may be. So, you need to have a good knowledge of what is right and what is not, of what is legal and what is illegal.

#4. Photography Skills

There is this popular saying that says “pictures don’t lie,” and that is why photographic evidence is one of the most credible types of evidence in a courtroom.

Whatever your conviction may be, you will need photographic evidence to prove any of your claims. And that means having good photographic skills is something a private investigator will need.

#5. Organization

There will be a time when you will have more than one job at hand. If you handle more than one case at the same time, you must possess good organizational skills to prevent you from mixing evidence from various cases together and in the long run, even losing the focus of a case.

So, Being a private investigator is the type of job that requires you to be careful because it is really sensitive.

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#6. Thoroughness

To solve cases that even the police have abandoned because they don’t have the leads. So, you will need to pay attention to every details, even the smallest ones. It would be best to be thorough and never leave anything out during an investigation.

#7. Patience

This is a very important skill you need to cultivate even more information. You may not find what you are looking for even after repeated efforts, you may not solve that case even after many clues, but you should learn to be persistent.

If you give up, the case may remain unsolved because you missed the important details necessary to get to the root of that case.

Where Can A Private Investigator Work?

Skilled investigators are in-demand in several industries. Also they can work in so many places that, includes

How much does a Private Investigator make?

According to 2025 BLS states, the average, annual salary for private investigators in New York is $53,700. Hence, you will earn higher if you have an impressive resume and a few years of experience. In short, the top 10% here earn an average salary of $123,390.

While Albany-Troy is $70,810-$81,330 and New York City is $52,350-$84,100.

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How Long Does It Take to Become a Private Investigator?

Having an education is something that employers will look for that may give you an edge in getting hired. So, to become a private investigator in New York, you should complete your high school diploma.

Also, you will need to complete a 2 or 4 years degree in the field such as criminal justice, criminology, law, or a related field from an accredited university, and you may also need an associate degree in private investigation, which is an added advantage and it takes about two years to complete.

How To Become A  Private Investigator in New York

To qualifier for a private investigator in New York, you need to meet the state requirements. Here are steps on how to become a private investigator in New York.

  • Meet Minimum New York Requirements for Licensure
  • Meet Education and Experience Requirements in New York
  • Take the New York Private Investigator Examination
  • Complete Fingerprinting Procedures in New York
  • Apply for a New York Private Investigator License
  • Get to Work in New York
  • Maintain your New York License

#1. Meet Minimum New York Requirements for Licensure

Candidates who want to become a licensed private investigators in New York must meet several minimum requirements:

  • You must be at least 25 years old.
  • You must be a United States Citizen.
  • Also, you must possess a high school diploma

#2. Meet Education and Experience Requirements in New York

To meet New York’s requirements for licensure, you must possess ONE of the following:

  • At least 3 years of full-time investigative experience as an employee or a licensed private investigator or investigator for a government investigative agency or police agency.
  • At least 3 years of full-time equivalent experience where primary duties were to conduct investigations
  • 3 years of full-time experience supervising the work of at least 3 people who performed investigations
  • You must possess at least 20 years of service as a police officer.
  • Also, At least 20 years of full-time service as a Fire Marshall

Although education requirements for licensure as a private investigator in New York are not required. But, many individuals in this line of work pursue a degree in criminal justice or a related program for more expertise.

#3. Take the New York Private Investigator Examination

Before you can apply for a private investigator in New York, you must take and pass the state exam for private investigator and your passing score must be at least 70 percent.

After the exam you will be notified by a mail, of your passing or failing score. If you pass the exam, the Division of Licensing Services will mail you a license application to complete.

Also, before taking the examination, you will be thumb printed, and all electronic devices, including cell phones, must be turned off during the exam. 

On the exam day, you must bring a government-issued photo ID (driver’s license, military ID, passport, state-issued identification) and the $15 examination fee (check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa acceptable).

In addition, you will be given 2 1\2 hours (two and a half hours) to complete the examination.

#4. Complete Fingerprinting Procedures in New York

All candidates for licensure must go through either IdentoGo or MorphoTrust USA to complete their electronic fingerprints.

Before going, you must schedule an appointment by calling 1-877-472-6915 (and provide them with the ORI number NY922021Z).

Also, you must complete the NYS Fingerprinting Services Information form and bring it with you to the fingerprinting site and pay the $85.75 fingerprinting fee (payable to MorphoTrust USA).

#5. Apply For a New York Private Investigator License

Before you apply for a license, you need to pass the written exam, and you have 2 years from the date you pass the examination to apply for licensure.

You can apply for a private investigator license as an individual, a partnership, or a corporation.

In addition, here are the following documents that your application must include:

  • A signed DMV Consent form
  • Bond form
  • Receipt from electronic fingerprinting by an approved vendor
  • Application fee (made payable to the NYS Department of State) of $400 (or $500 for a business or corporate business license and $500 for each branch office)
  • Proof of qualifying experience (a sworn statement from each employer)
  • Sworn statements from at least 3 people who have direct knowledge of your claimed experience
  • Proof of earnings for the last 3 years of full-time experience

#6. Get To Work in New York

Several professional associations in New York provide many benefits to private investigators, such as networking opportunities, events, conferences, and job opportunities:

  • New York State Chapter of the Special Investigative Units Inc.
  • New York State Police Investigators Association
  • Associated Licensed Detectives of New York State
  • New York Gang Investigators Association
  • The NYC Detective Investigators Association
  • New York Welfare Fraud Investigators
  • New York State Fire Investigators

#7. Maintain Your New York License

All private investigator licenses in New York are renewed every 2 years. The renewal cost is $400 ($500 for corporate or business), and you must provide the Division with a Certificate of Bonded Status form when renewing your license.

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Also, you will receive renewal instructions from the Division within 90 days of the expiration of your license.

What schools can help you become a Private Investigator in New York?

One of the major criteria for getting a private investigator’s legal license is having a two-year associate’s program or a 4-year bachelor’s program in a criminal justice-related area is helpful to aspiring private detectives and investigators.

And to get any of these degrees, you must attend a university or college. In other to help give students passionate about building a career as private detectives that opportunity they desire. And also to fill up the high demand in New York.

In other words, here are the list of schools in New York where you can take criminology and other related courses.

READ ALSO: 15 Best Criminology Schools in UK | 2025 Ranking

Ranking Factors

To properly rank the schools that can help you become a Private Investigator in New York, we used the following factors

Acceptance Rate: In this article, we consider schools that have the highest acceptance rate. Because the higher the acceptance rate, the easier it is to get into the PT school.

Graduation Rate: Here we consider schools that have the highest graduation rate. Because of the higher the graduation rate, the easier students graduate from PT schools without delay.

Tuition Fees: We also consider schools with low tuition fees so that students that wish to get in, can do that without having a hard time or difficulty in paying or her tuition fee.

Here are the list of schools for private detectors:

  • University at Albany
  • Pace University-New York
  • Molloy College
  • CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • St John’s University-New York
  • Marist College
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Iona College
  • Adelphi University
  • LIU Post

Let’s explain some of the schools briefly

#1. University at Albany

Acceptance Rate: 52.1%

Graduation Rate: 66%

Tuition Fees: Local tuition 10,176 USD, Domestic tuition 27,766 USD.

The State University of New York at Albany, commonly referred to as University at Albany, SUNY Albany or UAlbany, is one of the best schools in the country for criminal justice and corrections. Located in the small city of Albany, UAlbany is a public school with a large student population.

The school is one of the best colleges in New York that offers criminal justice and private investigation and is also an excellent school overall.

The internationally renowned UAlbany School of Criminal Justice is home to the 2nd-ranked PhD program and 3rd-ranked undergraduate program in the nation.

Furthermore, the degrees available at UAlbany are a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, masters degree in criminal justice, and doctorate in criminal justice.

In addition the school is accredited from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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#2. Pace University-New York

Pace University is a private university with its main campus in New York City and secondary campuses in Westchester County, New York. It was established in 1906 by the brother’s Homer St. Clair Pace and Charles A.

This school ranks 54th out of 132 colleges for overall quality in New York. It is one of the most popular colleges to study criminal justice and private investigator in New York.

Furthermore, the degrees available at Pace University are a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, a master’s degree in criminal justice.

Soon after graduating, criminal justice students generally make about $26,900 at the beginning of their careers.

In addition, the school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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#3. Molloy College

Molloy College is a private Catholic college with a small student population in Rockville Centre, New York. 

The school provides more than 50 academic undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs for over 5,000 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students.

Molloy College is a great school and is one of the most popular colleges to study criminal justice in New York. After graduating, criminal justice students usually earn around $31,400 in their early careers.

In addition, Molloy College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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#4. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice is a public college focused on criminal justice and located in New York City. This school ranks 92nd out of 132 colleges for overall quality in New York.

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice is a good option for students pursuing a Criminal Justice and forensic focus in the U.S. Also, the school has an overall quality education in New York.

Furthermore, criminal justice program graduates make around $33,300 in the first couple of years of working.

In addition, the school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

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#5. St John’s University-New York

St. John’s University is a private Roman Catholic university with a large student population in New York City. Founded in 1870

There are roughly 230 criminal justice and corrections undergraduates enrolled in this degree at STJ. The criminal justice program graduates make an average of $32,800 for their early career.

Furthermore, the degrees available at STJ are a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, a master’s degree in criminal justice, and a doctorate in criminal justice.

The Middle States Commission accredits STJ on Higher Education.

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Are There Online Degrees For Private Investigator In New York?

Yes, there are a few online degree for a private investigator in the US. We mean the accredited ones.

Here are the degrees below:

  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • Grand Canyon University (GCU)
  • Northcentral University
  • Colorado Technical University (CTU)
  • South University
  • Purdue University Global
  • American InterContinental University

Conclusion

In conclusion, i believe this article on how to become a private investigator in New York will help you achieve your dream effectively and efficiently.

Good luck!

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