A private investigator, or PI, researches financial matters, conducts legal searches, finds missing persons or investigates civil crimes on behalf of clients. To become a PI, you only need a high school diploma. However, investigators typically start in a law enforcement career. Most states also require licensing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though pay varies with self-employment, average pay was $53,890 per year as of May 2013, according to the BLS.
Investigator Pay Details
Ten percent of PIs made at or below $30,330 as of May 2013. However, the top 10 percent earned at or above $83,600. The size of your community and potential clientele impact pay, as does geography. New Jersey investigators had the highest average pay at $64,610 per year. Nebraska was second in investigator pay at $63,770, followed by Washington at $61,320.
2016 Salary Information for Private Detectives and Investigators
Private detectives and investigators earned a median annual salary of $48,190 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, private detectives and investigators earned a 25th percentile salary of $35,710, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $66,300, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 41,400 people were employed in the U.S. as private detectives and investigators.