Are you thinking of becoming a private investigator?
4th Corner Network, Inc., offers personalized training by a state certified instructor.

Robin K Mullins is a Washington Certified private investigator trainer. Training covering state requirements (See RCW chapter 18.165 and WAC chapter 308-17) is available in two formats, either in person or remote via the Internet. For details call him at 360-671-2455 or via email at robin@4thcorner.com.

In order to work as a private investigator (PI) in the state of Washington you must possess a PI license issued by the state Department of Licensing. There are several types of licenses and each has its own set of requirements.

PI’s offer a variety of services to their clients. This can include investigation services, bodyguard services, loss prevention services, and many more. Here are the four types of PI licenses in Washington.

  • Unarmed private investigator
  • Armed private investigator
  • Private investigator agency
  • Certified trainer

Basic Unarmed Private Investigator License Requirements

An applicant must meet the following minimum requirements to obtain an unarmed PI license.

  • Be at least eighteen years of age;
  • Be a citizen or resident alien of the United States;
  • Not have been convicted of a crime in any jurisdiction, if the director determines that the applicant’s particular crime directly relates to his or her capacity to perform the duties of a private investigator and the director determines that the license should be withheld to protect the citizens of Washington state. The director shall make her or his determination to withhold a license because of previous convictions notwithstanding the restoration of employment rights act, chapter 9.96A RCW;
  • Be employed by or have an employment offer from a private investigator agency or be licensed as a private investigator agency;
  • Submit a set of fingerprints; however, if an applicant has been issued a license as a private security guard under chapter 18.170 RCW within the last twelve months, the applicant is not required to undergo a separate background check to become licensed under this chapter;
  • Pay the required nonrefundable fee for each application; and
  • Submit a fully completed application that includes proper identification on a form prescribed by the director for each company of employment.
  • Complete a pre-assignment training course with a state certified trainer.

Basic Armed Private Investigator Requirements

An applicant must meet the following minimum requirements to obtain an armed private investigator license.

  • Be licensed as a private investigator.
  • Be at least twenty-one years of age.
  • Have a current firearms certificate issued by the commission.
  • Have a license to carry a concealed pistol.
  • Pay the fee established by the director.
  • The armed private investigator license may take the form of an endorsement to the private investigator license if deemed appropriate by the director.

Private Investigator Agency License

In addition to meeting the minimum requirements to obtain a license as a private investigator, an applicant, or, in the case of a partnership or limited partnership, each partner, or, in the case of a corporation, the qualifying agent must meet the following additional requirements to obtain a private investigator agency license:

  • Pass an examination determined by the director to measure the person’s knowledge and competence in the private investigator agency business; or
  • Have had at least three years’ experience in investigative work or its equivalent as determined by the director. A year’s experience means not less than two thousand hours of actual compensated work performed before the filing of an application. An applicant shall substantiate the experience by written certifications from previous employers. If the applicant is unable to supply written certifications from previous employers, applicants may offer written certifications from professional persons other than employers who, based on personal professional knowledge, can substantiate the employment.
  • An agency license issued pursuant to this section may not be assigned or transferred without prior written approval of the director.
  • No license to own or operate a private investigator company may be issued to an applicant if the name of the company portrays the company as a public law enforcement agency, or in association with a public law enforcement agency, or includes the word “police.”

Certification of Preassignment Training Trainers

An individual must successfully pass the agency principal examination and have three years investigative experience to become a certified trainer. Individuals who fail the exam will be required to wait a minimum of seven days before reexamination. There is no limit on the number of certified trainers an individual private investigative agency may have certified.

Your Life Experience May Substitute for Training Requirements

People with previous experience which is applicable to the field of private investigations may avoid the 4 hour pre-assignment training requirement. However, you must still take the pre-assignment quiz and pay all necessary fees. Proof of experience is required and verified.