How to start a Private Investigation Agency in UK USA (Business Plan)

Private Investigation Agency

Do you have these questions in your mind?

  • What is a Private Investigation Agency?
  • How to start a Private Investigation Agency?
  • What are the skills required in becoming a Private Investigation Agency?
  • How much profit will you make as a Private Investigation Agency?


In this article, you will find answers to all your questions. So please grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What is a Private Investigation Agency?

Starting a Private Investigation agency can be a lucrative business venture for those passionate about helping and safeguarding important information and people worldwide.


Private investigation agencies play a vital role in our society by helping individuals and businesses gather information and evidence for various purposes. This career path can be rewarding but requires careful planning, preparation, and dedication.


Whether you are an experienced investigator looking to branch out independently or as a newcomer, this article will provide the essential steps and tips to launch a successful private investigation agency.

Market Insight: The global private investigation services market is expected to reach USD $122 billion by 2021, growing at a compound annual growth rate of over 3.3% between 2020 and 2025.

Private Investigation Agency

Step-by-step guide when starting a Private Investigation Agency

Starting a private investigation agency requires careful planning, research, and dedication. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you launch your private investigation agency:


1. Develop a Business Plan: 

Create a business plan outlining your agency’s goals, services, target market, budget, marketing strategy, financial projections, and growth plan.


2. Legal Research Requirements: 

Research the legal requirements for starting this agency in your state or country, including license, meeting educational and experience needs, and passing a background check.


3. Obtain a License: 

Apply for a private investigation license from your state’s licensing board. This process typically involves submitting an application, paying a fee, and passing an exam.


4. Develop Your Brand: 

Choose a business name and develop a brand that reflects your agency’s mission and values. Then, create a website, business cards, and other marketing materials to promote your agency.


5. Establish Your Office: 

Set up an office or workspace for your agency. This may include renting an office space or working from home. You must also purchase a computer, phone, and surveillance equipment.


6. Hire staff: 

Decide whether you will work alone or hire staff. If you hire a team, ensure they are adequately trained and licensed.


7. Market Your Agency: 

Develop a marketing strategy to attract clients. This may include networking with other professionals, advertising, and building a solid online presence.


8. Develop Your Service Offerings: 

Determine the types of investigations your agency will offer, such as background checks, surveillance, or fraud investigations. Then, develop pricing and service packages for your clients.


9. Build Your Client Base: 

Establish relationships with clients by providing high-quality service, building trust, and delivering results. Word-of-mouth referrals can be a powerful marketing tool.


10. Stay Up-to-Date: 

Stay current on industry trends, regulations, and technology. Continuously develop your skills and knowledge to provide the best service to your clients.

Private Investigation Agency

Types of Private Investigation Agency

Private investigation agencies can offer a wide range of services to clients. Here are some of the most common types of private investigation agencies:


1. Corporate Investigation Agency:
These agencies provide investigative services to corporations and businesses, including fraud investigation, employee background checks, and intellectual property theft.


2. Insurance Investigation Agency:
Insurance investigation agencies investigate insurance claims, such as workers’ compensation claims or insurance fraud. They may also provide surveillance services to verify claims.


3. Domestic Investigation Agency:
Domestic investigation agencies offer services to individuals, such as background checks, surveillance, and infidelity investigations.


4. Cyber Investigation Agency:
Cyber investigation agencies specialize in digital investigations, such as computer forensics, data recovery, and cybercrime investigation.


5. Financial Investigation Agency:
Financial investigation agencies investigate financial crimes, such as embezzlement, money laundering, and investment fraud.


6. Legal Investigation Agency:
Legal investigation agencies assist law firms and attorneys with investigations related to litigation, including witness interviews, evidence collection, and surveillance.


7. Security Investigation Agency:
Security investigation agencies provide security consulting services, threat assessments, and risk management.


8. Missing Persons Investigation Agency:
Missing persons investigation agencies specialize in locating missing persons, such as runaway children or adults who have disappeared.


9. Background Check Agency:
Background check agencies provide pre-employment screening services, including criminal background checks, credit checks, and reference checks.

Private Investigation Agency

Pros and Cons of a Private Investigation Agency



  • These agencies often have a flexible schedule and can work on a case-by-case basis. 
  • Investigators can help clients gather information and evidence. 
  • Investigators can work on various cases and gain experience in different areas.
  • There is a constant demand for investigators.
  • Investigators specializing in high-demand areas can earn a high income. 




  • Private investigators often work in dangerous or unpredictable situations
  • Private investigations involve legal issues like privacy laws, evidence collection, and surveillance.
  • Investigators must continuously operate within ethical guidelines. 
  • Starting a private investigation agency can be expensive. 
  • Personal investigation work can be stressful.

Investment required to start a Private Investigation Agency

The investment required to start a Private Investigation agency can vary. However, some of the essential costs include the following:


  • Office space and equipment (rent, utilities, furniture, computers, and other office equipment)
  • Marketing and advertising 
  • Investigator’s Salaries and benefits
  • Software and tools 
  • Legal and professional fees


Estimating the total investment required by considering an Investigation agency’s specific needs and goals takes time and effort. However, it can range from $10K -$30K for a small home-based agency to $100K – $300K for a more central agency with multiple employees.

Private Investigation Agency

How much does Private Investigation Agency Make?

It isn’t easy to estimate a specified annual amount as most Private Investigation agency charge depending on the scale of the work and efficiency of their investigators. 


A small, home-based private investigation agency may generate up to $10K – $80K in annual revenue. A more central agency with multiple clients and a diverse range of services can generate between $100K – $500K in payment per year.

Market Insight: Pinkerton, one of the oldest and the most accomplished Private Investigation agency in the world, earns around $46 million revenue annually.

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Private Investigation Agency

Why business need Private Investigation Agency?

There are several reasons why a business might need to hire a private investigation agency. Here are some common reasons:


1. Employee theft or misconduct: 

Private investigators can help businesses investigate employee theft, fraud, or other misconduct, which can be challenging to detect and prove independently.


2. Background checks: 

Private investigators can conduct comprehensive background checks on potential employees, partners, vendors, or clients to help businesses make informed decisions and avoid potential risks.


3. Intellectual property theft: 

Private investigators can help businesses investigate cases of intellectual property theft, including theft of trade secrets, copyrights, patents, and trademarks.


4. Due diligence: 

Private investigators can conduct due diligence investigations on potential business partners, mergers, or acquisitions to help businesses identify potential risks and liabilities.


5. Surveillance: 

Private investigators can monitor the activities of employees, competitors, or other parties to uncover potential threats or illegal activities.


6. Litigation support: 

Private investigators can support legal proceedings by gathering evidence, conducting interviews, and providing expert testimony.


Hiring a private investigation agency can help businesses protect their assets, minimize risks, and operate ethically and lawfully.

Private Investigation Agency

Service list of a Private Investigation Agency

The services provided by a private investigation agency can vary depending on the agency and its area of specialization. However, here are some standard services offered by private investigation agencies:


  • They conduct surveillance, such as physical observation, video recording, and GPS tracking, to monitor the activities of individuals, businesses, or properties.
  • They can conduct comprehensive background checks on individuals, businesses, or organizations.
  • They can investigate suspected infidelity of a spouse or partner. 
  • They can help locate missing persons, including family members, friends, or debtors.
  • They can investigate suspected insurance fraud, such as false claims or staged accidents, to provide evidence that can be used in court or negotiations.
  • They can investigate corporate fraud, embezzlement, theft, and other types of misconduct.
  • They can investigate cases of intellectual property theft, including theft of trade secrets, copyrights, patents, and trademarks, to provide evidence that can be used in court.
  • They can conduct due diligence investigations on potential business partners, mergers, or acquisitions to help businesses identify potential risks and liabilities.


Private investigation agencies provide various services to help individuals and businesses protect their interests, gather information, and make informed decisions.


Service rate card for a Private Investigation Agency

The service rates for a private investigation agency can vary depending on the agency’s experience, location, type of investigation, and case complexity. Some of the available price ranges for different types of private investigation services:


  • Surveillance: $50 to $150 per hour
  • Background checks: $100 to $300 per individual
  • Infidelity investigations: $1,000 to $5,000
  • Missing person investigations: $1,500 to $5,000
  • Insurance investigations: $75 to $150 per hour
  • Corporate investigations: $100 to $300 per hour


Note: The actual cost of a private investigation varies based on the case’s specific circumstances. Discuss the fees and pricing structure with the client before finalizing the services.

TIP: You should undertake extensive research on the market niche in which you plan to sell your services and sell those services accordingly.

Private Investigation Agency

Checklist of Equipments when starting a Private Investigation Agency

Private investigation agencies may require a range of equipment to carry out their investigations effectively. Here are some examples of equipment that might be needed when starting a private investigation agency:

  • Surveillance cameras
  • Video recording devices
  • Audio recording devices
  • GPS trackers
  • Binoculars
  • Flashlights
  • Night vision goggles
  • Forensic tools
  • Fingerprint kits
  • DNA collection kits
  • Digital forensic tools
  • Communication devices
  • Radios
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Laptops
  • Computer software
  • Protective gear
  • Bulletproof vests
  • Self-defense weapons
  • Pepper spray
  • Stun guns
  • Vehicles
  • Covert vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Drones
  • Microphones
  • Headsets
  • Two-way radios
  • Tracking devices
  • Personal alarms
  • Lock-picking tools
  • Handcuffs
  • Binocular telescopes
  • Hidden cameras
  • Bug detection devices
  • Bug sweepers
  • Long-range lenses
  • Smartwatches
  • Bullet cameras.

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Private Investigation Agency

Staff needed for a Private Investigation Agency

Here are some of the types of staff needed for a Private Investigation Agency:


1. Private Investigators: 

These are the primary professionals in a Private Investigation Agency. They conduct investigations on behalf of clients, gather evidence, and provide reports.


2. Surveillance Specialists: 

These professionals specialize in conducting surveillance operations, monitoring targets, and gathering information.


3. Forensic Experts: 

These professionals have expertise in analyzing evidence, including fingerprints, DNA, and digital data.


4. Legal Experts: 

Private Investigation Agencies may require staff with legal expertise to ensure all investigations comply with relevant laws and regulations.


5. Administrative Staff: 

Private Investigation Agencies may also require administrative staff to handle scheduling appointments, managing client accounts, and responding to inquiries.


6. Technology Specialists: 

Technology specialists may be needed to help with installing, maintaining, and using surveillance equipment, digital forensic tools, and other technology used in investigations.


7. Business Development Specialists:

Business development specialists may be required to help grow the agency’s client base, market the agency’s services, and develop new business opportunities.


8. Training Specialists:

Training specialists may be needed to provide ongoing training to staff on new techniques, tools, and best practices in the industry.


Overall, a Private Investigation Agency may require a range of staff with different backgrounds, skills, and expertise to provide comprehensive services to clients.

Trends and Challenges in a Private Investigation Agency:

Trends in the Private Investigation Agency:

1. Emphasis on cybersecurity
2. Use of advanced technology
3. Greater demand for due diligence services
4. Expansion of international investigations
5. Focus on compliance

Challenges in the Private Investigation Agency:

1. Increasing competition
2. Changing legal and regulatory environment
3. Technological advancements
4. Data protection and privacy concerns
5. Difficulty in finding skilled investigators

Private Investigation Agency

Licences needed to become a Private Investigator

Here are the licenses needed to become a private investigator in the US and UK:


United States:

The requirements to become a licensed private investigator in the United States can vary by state. However, here are some general guidelines:


  • Private Investigator License: Most states require private investigators to obtain a license to operate legally. The licensing requirements may include a minimum age, background checks, education or experience requirements, and passing a state exam.
  • Business License: Private investigators who operate their agencies may also need a business license to work legally. 
  • Firearms License: Some states may require private investigators who carry firearms to obtain a firearms license. 


United Kingdom:

In the United Kingdom, private investigators must be licensed by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). The licensing requirements include the following:


  • Training: Applicants must complete a recognized training course for private investigators.
  • Background Check: Applicants must undergo a criminal record check.
  • Insurance: Applicants must have professional indemnity insurance.
  • License Application: Applicants must submit a license application to the SIA and pay a fee.
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD): Licensed private investigators must undertake CPD training to maintain their license.


In conclusion, starting a private investigation agency can be challenging but rewarding for individuals with a passion for investigation and a desire to help clients. 


To start a successful private investigation agency, conducting thorough research, identifying a niche, developing a business plan, and securing the necessary licenses and certifications are essential. 


Building a solid team of experienced investigators and administrative staff, utilizing the latest technology and marketing strategies, and providing high-quality services to clients are all critical factors for success in the private investigation industry. 

With hard work and dedication, starting a private investigation agency can be a profitable and successful business venture.

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A. The qualifications required to start a private investigation agency can vary depending on your location. In most places, you’ll need to be licensed and meet certain requirements related to education, experience, and background checks. You should research the licensing requirements in your area and make sure you meet all of them before starting your agency

A. The amount of money you’ll need to start a private investigation agency can vary depending on your location and the services you plan to offer. You’ll need to purchase equipment, such as cameras and recording devices, as well as office space and insurance. You should create a detailed business plan and budget to determine the amount of money you’ll need to get started.

A. Private investigation agencies can offer a wide variety of services, including background checks, surveillance, skip tracing, asset searches, and more. The services you offer will depend on your area of expertise and the needs of your clients.

A. Common challenges faced by private investigation agencies include competition from other agencies, legal and ethical issues, and difficulty finding clients. It’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest laws and regulations and to maintain a high level of professionalism to build trust with your clients.

A. Finding clients for your private investigation agency can be challenging. You can market your services to individuals, businesses, and law firms. You can also network with other professionals in your industry and attend conferences and events to build your reputation and make connections.

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