How To Get a Private Investigator License in Washington


If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a private investigator, this article explains how to get a private investigator license in Washington. In this article, we’ll cover what the state department handles the licensing process and provide a high-level overview of the licensing requirements and the training necessary to get approved

Private Investigator Licensing Authority

Private Investigator licensing in Washington is handled by the Washington Department of Licensing, Business & Professional Licensing.

Following is the contact information for the department:

Phone Number: 360.664.6611
Email Address:

How to Apply for a License

The department has different licensing requirements for a Private Investigator Agency, an Armed Private Investigator, and an Unarmed Private Investigator. Since those requirements may change without notice, the most up-to-date information will be on the department’s website at the address above. On the website, you’ll find:

  • Requirements for getting your private investigator license in Washington
  • How to renew your private detective license
  • Application forms and fees required
  • State exam study resources
  • Training requirements and resources
  • How to look up a professional license
  • How to file a complaint against a private detective

Other special licensing requirements such as education requirements, experience requirements, examinations, and insurance may be required.  Check the state licensing website for more information.

Washington Private Investigator Associations

After you get licensed, it is important to start building your business. Private Investigator associations are a great way to keep in touch with what’s going on in the industry. Join an association to network with other professional investigators, get access to training, and refer business opportunities. The following are the two most prominent investigation associations in the state of Washington.

  • Washington Association of Licensed Investigators (WALI) – Formed in 1997, as a non-profit organization by a group of Washington State Investigators. The association provides an educational forum for detectives throughout the State that improves the skills and the level of professionalism of those in the industry. The association also provides networking opportunities and hosts educational meetings and also promotes a variety of PI conferences.
  • Pacific Northwest Association of Investigators – The P.N.A.I. is a professional organization of licensed private eyes incorporated in the state of Washington in 1947

List of Existing Private Investigators and Investigation Agencies

If you’re looking for employment, visit our Private Investigator Directory to view a list of Private Investigation Agencies in Washington State.


Washington has a list of specific exam study resources on its licensing website. Exam study topics include:

  • Washington state law as it applies to private investigator licensing and regulation
  • Federal laws
  • Court systems
  • State courts
  • Legal procedures and definitions
  • Resources for public information

General Training Resources

View our list of general training resources for information on various degree programs, training courts, certification programs, and home study courses. These courses should be considered in addition to any training or education required by the state.

Learn About Licensing in Any State

The Private Investigator’s Licensing Handbook: How to Get a Private Investigator License in any State
Dive into this book to learn more about state-specific licensing requirements, training resources, and industry associations. Also, get a better understanding of the work environment, career prospects, and salaries.

Already a PI? Use it to learn about licensing in other states. Or, use it to help guide your new hires through the licensing process.

This edition includes enhanced training recommendations, suggestions for starting a new business, how to join an association, and updated state information. It’s your essential starting point on the path to becoming a private investigator.

Questions and Comments

If you have any questions about how to get a private investigator license in Washington, please visit the state licensing authority’s website, or post a message below.


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