How Much Money Does a Private Investigator Make?

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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 $31,440 as of May 2020. However, the top 10 percent earned at or above $96,950. 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.

Private Detectives and Investigators salary

  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $96,950 ($46.61/hour)
  • Median Annual Salary: $53,320 ($25.63/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $31,440 ($15.12/hour)