Salary for Private Detectives and Investigators

Also known as:  Certified Legal Investigator, Licensed Private Investigator, Loss Prevention Detective, Private Detective, Private Eye, Private Investigator, Skip Tracer, Store Detective helps find better paying jobs across all specialties and locations. Sign up in our talent cluster and get scouted today!

Private detectives and investigators investigate unlawful activities or possible infractions by gathering evidence, analyzing data and creating reports regarding individuals or organizations. This work is often done on a contractual basis and may require undercover work to get a thorough idea of an individual or organization's daily activities. These professionals are expected to have superior interviewing skills when it comes to key witnesses in a case and may be asked to testify at hearings and court trials to deliver evidence-based findings. They work cooperatively with other law enforcement agencies and must be efficient communicators with clients and those they are investigating alike. An associate's degree or related vocational school training is required for employment in this professional field.

A Private Detective or Investigator can expect a compensation somewhere between 32000 to 48000 based on levels of tenure. Private Detectives and Investigators can earn a pay level of Forty Seven Thousand Four Hundred dollars annually.

Private Detectives and Investigators receive the highest pay in Virginia, where they receive average pay levels of close to $68420. People working these jobs have the most lucrative average salary level in Educational Services, where they earn an average pay rate of $73480.

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The national wage distribution is shown below. To overlay local salaries for a Private Detective or Investigator, please select your state.
Annual salary
Hourly rate
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The annual compensation for this career has gone up since 2004. Salaries have increased by an average of 30.22 percent nationwide in that time.


Private Detectives and Investigators tend to make the most in the following industries:

Educational Services
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
Transportation and Warehousing

In general, they earn less within the industries below:

Retail Trade
Accommodation and Food Services
Health Care and Social Assistance
Administrative, Support and Waste Management Services
Finance and Insurance
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation