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How Much Money Does a Private Investigator Make?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

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.


About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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