How To Become A Private Investigator In Ontario? (2023)

A Private Investigator is a professional that searches for clues in order to obtain evidence for court cases or private clients. They are usually involved in conducting interviews, checking information, performing surveillance, locating missing people, and gathering crucial information for cases.

To become a private investigator in Ontario, you must be at least 18 years old, must have a clean criminal record, and most importantly, you need to take licensing training, pass the licensing examination then apply for the Ontario Private Investigator’s license as required by Service Ontario under the Ministry of the Solicitor General’s Office.

How to become a private investigator in Ontario?

The requirements needed to become a private investigator usually vary from state to state. However, it is usually necessary to first get formal education (although some states might require that you get a college degree), after which you take the necessary training mandated by the state then apply for a practicing license.

If you are looking forward to becoming a private investigator in Ontario, here are the steps you should follow:

1. Get Formal Education

Although it isn’t mandatory to get formal education if you want to become a private investigator in Ontario, it is however very important to gain fundamental knowledge as well as fluency in English. Although not compulsory, it will also be a useful asset if you gain basic knowledge or even a college degree in law, policing, security, finance, debt collections, military, computer science, etc.

2. Possess a Clean Criminal Record

To be able to apply for licensing and practice as a private investigator, you will need to be reviewed according to Private Security and Investigative Service Act, 2005 as having a “Clean Criminal Record”. A clean criminal record means:

  • A person has not been convicted of a prescribed offense under the Canada criminal code, the controlled drugs and substances act or any other act of Canada
  • A person has been convicted of any of the acts above but has been issued a pardon or a grant under the criminal records act (Canada)

3. Complete the Training Courses

This is the first step towards getting licensed as a private investigator in Ontario. You will be required to take a 50-hours training course as mandated by the Ministry of the Solicitor General’s Office.

You have the freedom of choice to take the training course at any company you desire so far they have been licensed to offer training. The training course can be taken online or in a classroom and is expected to cover the following topics:

  • Introduction to the private investigation industry
  • The private security and investigative service act
  • Provincial and federal statuses
  • Criminal and civil law
  • Investigative techniques
  • Principles of ethical reasoning/decision making
  • Key principles of communication and interaction
  • Self-management skills

After successful completion of the training course, you will be issued a certificate which serves as a form of evidence of training and will be submitted when applying for licensing.

4. Take the Licensing Examination and Apply for The PI license

After completion of the licensing training course, you will need to sit for a licensing examination otherwise known as the Basic Ministry Test which is administered by Serco DES Inc. and cost $75.5.

The test helps to verify if the applicant understands what has been learned in the training course and contains about 60 multiple-choice questions which cover the entire topics taken in the training course.

The result of the examination is usually available two days after taking the exam, a success in this exam means you can proceed to apply for your private investigator license. The application is made through Service Ontario and you will be required to provide personal information about yourself including your home address and your testing completion number. You will also be required to pay an application fee of about $80and after about 10 days, you should get a mail that your application has been approved and this allows you to work as a private investigator in Ontario.

5. Acquire Skills

Asides from the training and licensing requirements, a good private investigator should have the following skills:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Discreet
  • Honest
  • Be able to work independently
  • Observance and attention to detail
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Computer literacy

You must also have passion and genuine interest in this profession as this acts as a driving force for days when the job might seem too challenging.

Requirements of a Private Investigator in Ontario

  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Must have basic formal education with fluency in the English language
  • Must have a clean criminal record
  • Must take the licensing training course as required by the Ministry of the Solicitor General’s Office
  • Must pass the licensing test administered by Serco
  • Must apply for the PI license and pay the application fee

How Much Does a Private Investigator Earn?

There is no fixed salary schedule for private investigators all around Ontario but the expected average salary of a private investigator in Ontario is about $40,423 a year which is approximately $19.43 an hour and about $777 per week.

Some private investigators in this province however earn as high as $70,620 a year while some earn as low as $22,734 a year. This variation in salaries is influenced greatly by skill level, location, and years of experience

Are Private Investigators in Demand in Ontario?

Yes, private investigators are in demand in Ontario. Due to the increasing security and safety concerns, many people demand trained professionals in the PI field to help them investigate various sorts of crimes e.g. cyber hacks which is one of the most common security threats in recent times.

Also, the increase in employment demands of private investigators in Ontario can be attributed to the high rate of retirement due to the aging population which leads to high replacement demand.



The job of a private investigator is very important in law enforcement and taking this as a career choice means you get to make a difference in maintaining law and order in your community. The duties and responsibilities of a private investigator vary in different corporations, however, their major roles are researching databases, conducting interviews, conducting surveillance, background checks, etc.

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