How to Become a Private Detective or Private Investigator in the state of Texas
The Texas state private investigator license requirements can be confusing to navigate through. Most of what is stated on the Texas Department of Public Safety website relates to private investigative agencies.
If you are not starting an agency and simply want to work for an agency then the process is relatively easy. All you need to do is have an agency hire you. Once you begin working for a private investigation agency, that agency will register you with the Private Security Bureau as their employee. You may then begin working under their license on their assignments.
The Texas Department of Public Safety website states the following:
“The most common way to get the experience is to go to work for a licensed private investigations company. They will register you with the Private Security Bureau as their employee. After you have worked for a licensed company as their registered employee, you can meet the experience requirement. Legally obtained experience could also include full-time, paid employment as a peace officer or in the case of a private investigator insurance adjuster. The only education that is acceptable instead of the experience requirement is a four-year degree in Criminal Justice from an accredited college or university.”
The statute requires the following: To own, manage or be employed by a licensed company,
a person must meet all the requirements set forth in Texas Occupations Code 1702.113,
summarized in part (but not in whole) below.
The person must:
- be at least 18 years of age;
- Not have been convicted, in any jurisdiction, of a felony level offense.
- 1. If yes, to the above, has it been LESS than 10 years since you completed your sentence or probationary period?
- Not have been convicted, in any jurisdiction, of a Class A or equivalent misdemeanor.
- 1. If yes, to the above, has it been LESS than 5 years since you completed your sentence or probationary period?
- Not have been convicted, within the past 5 years, in any jurisdiction, of a Class B misdemeanor or equivalent offense?
- Not currently charged with, or under indictment for, a felony, or a Class A misdemeanor.
- Not currently charged with, a Class B misdemeanor.
- Not have been found by a court to be incompetent by reason of a mental defect or disease and not have been restored to competency;
- Not have been dishonorably discharged from the United States armed services, discharged from the United States armed services under other conditions determined by the Board to be prohibitive, or dismissed by the United States armed services if a commissioned office in the United States armed services;
- Not be required to register in this or any other state as a sex offender.
It is a violation of the Texas Occupations Code to advertise, solicit business, bid on contracts or perform any investigative services without being properly licensed. Violations can result in administrative and civil penalties as well as criminal filings against the violator.
Qualification summary: An agency must have a qualified manager who has to have a minimum of 3 years experience (or combination of higher education and experience), pass a written exam and show proof of liability insurance. If the person does not qualify as the manager/owner, they will have to locate an agency that will hire and train them as a private investigator. To be licensed as a PI, you must be 18 years of age or older with no criminal history (see specific requirements). Again, it is like applying for any other job and you must find a licensed agency that will hire and train you as a private investigator if you do not meet the requirements to own your own agency.
To operate in Texas, a PI agency you must have a qualifying manager that directly supervises the agency and investigators licensed under their company. This manager must have experience and qualifications that meet one of the following:
- three (3) consecutive years of investigation-related experience;
- a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice; a bachelor’s degree, with an additional six months of investigation-related experience;
- an associate degree in criminal justice or related course of study, with an additional twelve months of investigation-related experience; or a specialized course of study directly designed for and related to the private investigations profession, taught and presented through affiliation with a four-year college or university accredited and recognized by the State of Texas. This course of study must be endorsed by the four year college or university’s department of criminal justice program and include a departmental faculty member(s) on its instructional faculty. This course of study must consist of aminimum of two hundred face-to-face classroom hours including coverage of ethics, Private Security Board administrative rules, the Private Security Act, and related statutes. Other combinations of education and investigation-related experience may be substituted for the above at the discretion of the Bureau manager. The bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and specialized courses referenced in section (a) of this rule must be affiliated with a college or university recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board, Southern Association of Schools and Colleges or other accreditation organization recognized by the State of Texas.
After meeting the qualifications for manager, the person must register to take the manager’s exam with the Private Security Bureau. Upon successful completion of the written exam, the person must show proof of liability insurance.
These requirements apply universally to all persons licensed and applying for a license. All
prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to review and be familiar with Section
By law, the PSB Board may deny an application for a license and/or registration on proof
that person does not meet the above qualifications. In addition, the Board may deny an
application if the applicant has violated any provision of the Private Security Act, made a
material misstatement on an application, or engaged in fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
In the state of Texas you must charge tax on services conducted.
Texas Licensing Agency
Texas Dept of
Public Safety Private Security Bureau
PO Box 4087
Austin TX 78773-0001
Texas Private Investigator Associations