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Private Investigator License Illinois

Illinois Private Investigator License Requirements


In Illinois, becoming a private investigator offers a unique opportunity to engage in a variety of tasks such as case investigations, evidence gathering for court purposes, conducting background checks, and more. These professionals operate independently, without police authority, ensuring they adhere to local, state, and federal laws to maintain the integrity of evidence.

Licensing Requirements in Illinois

To practice as a private investigator in Illinois, obtaining a license is essential. The process is defined by specific criteria relating to age, background, and professional experience.

Minimum Requirements:

  • Age: Must be at least 21 years old.
  • Criminal Background Check: Applicants must pass a background check confirming no felony convictions or demonstrate that ten years have passed since sentence completion.
  • Personal History: Evidence of good moral character is essential.
  • Military History: Applicants must not have been dishonorably discharged from the military or any U.S. law enforcement agency.
  • Mental Health: Must be psychologically equipped to perform investigative duties effectively.
  • Automatic Disqualifiers: Non-U.S. citizens, individuals with a history of drug or alcohol addiction, registered sex offenders, or those lacking experience are ineligible.

Education and Experience Requirements

  • Experience: Three years of professional experience under a licensed private investigator or detective agency is required, with at least one year achievable through relevant military training.
  • Education: A bachelor’s degree in law enforcement, criminal justice, or business can account for two of the three required years of experience. An associate’s degree in these fields accounts for one year.

Examination and Training

  • Written Exam: The Illinois Class A Private Detective exam, conducted semi-annually, tests knowledge on federal and state law, evidence collection and evaluation, case management, and safety practices. Passing this exam is a prerequisite for license application.
  • Training: Within 30 days of employment, 20 hours of training overseen by a qualified instructor must be completed. This certification is added to the investigator’s record and exempts them from repeating the course.

Application and Fees

  • Exam Fee: $298, covering the cost of the Illinois Class A Private Detective test.
  • Fingerprinting Fee: This fee varies and is required as part of the background check process.
  • Documentation: The application must include verified credentials and proof of training completion.

Maintaining Professional Standards

While ongoing education isn't mandated by the state, some employers might require continuous training to keep investigative skills sharp and up-to-date.

Economic Outlook and Employment

Private investigators in Illinois earn an average annual wage of $46,840. This figure reflects the state's investment in professional investigators due to their crucial role in supporting legal and personal resolutions.


Becoming a licensed private investigator in Illinois demands a significant commitment to fulfilling educational and experiential prerequisites along with passing a comprehensive state exam. This career not only offers a dynamic work environment but also the satisfaction of assisting individuals and businesses in uncovering essential information.


Q1: What qualifications are needed to become a private investigator in Illinois?

  • You need to be 21, pass a background check, complete specific education or experience requirements, and pass a state exam.

Q2: Are there ongoing education requirements for private investigators in Illinois?

  • The state does not require ongoing education, but individual employers may have their own requirements.

Q3: What are the costs associated with obtaining a private investigator license in Illinois?

  • The main costs include a $298 exam fee and varying charges for fingerprinting.

Q4: What is the job outlook for private investigators in Illinois?

  • With an average annual wage of $46,840, private investigators have a stable job outlook in Illinois, reflecting the ongoing need for investigative services across legal and personal sectors.

This guide outlines a comprehensive path for those looking to enter the private investigation field in Illinois, ensuring all prospective PIs are well-informed of the state-specific requirements and expectations.

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