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What's the Average Private Investigator Salary?

One of the questions people will ask when they wish to know if they can make a living through private investigations is what the average salary for private investigators is.

Although the average can give you an idea of how things are at the moment, it's important to remember that this average can vary significantly when you start looking at specific geographical areas. Even in the UK, there are major differences when you compare the average salaries between different cities and towns.

How Does The Average Salary For Investigators In The Uk Compare To The Rest Of The World?

In the West, the UK is still some ways behind other countries when it comes to salaries of private investigators. This could be due to the high number of untrained/unlicensed investigators who may price their services lower than what's recommended by industry experts.

Presently, the national average salary for investigators is around £23,700, assuming the investigators conform to a 40-hour work week. When you compare to other countries where private investigators must have a license to operate, e.g. Australia and US, you find averages of £34,000 and £34,400 respectively. Although there's no proof that this has to do with the increased regulation of the industry, it's easy to see how licensing could change things in the future.

Where Can Investigators Make More Money?

Location plays a big role in determining the salary of private investigators.

In the UK, when you compare salaries in the cities, town and rural areas, you can see a clear trend, i.e., investigators in the cities tend to make more money. This is because in the city:

  • Investigators have access to more cases
  • Investigators can access high-paying clients e.g. businesses
  • Clients may be willing to pay higher prices for services etc.

However, it's also important to remember that expenses are higher in the city. This means that the higher salaries may not go a long way compared to what an investigator makes in a location with low operating costs. London leads the UK in terms of annual average salaries for detectives. There are also large towns with relatively high averages.

Factors That Affect Private Investigators' Salaries

When you hear about investigators who earn up to £100,000 in one year, you should remember that there are a number of factors that contribute to this. This isn't what most investigators will be earning.

Factors that make a difference when it comes to private investigator salaries include:

  • Level of experience: An experienced investigator will have a reputation and will be able to attach a higher price to their services
  • Location: Certain locations have access to more clients and/or clients willing to pay more for services
  • Skillset and qualifications: Investigators with a higher level of expertise or those with academic degrees in courses relevant to investigations will attach higher prices to their services or may be more likely to be employed as in-house investigators
  • Clientele: An investigator who only serves business and corporate level clients will earn more than an investigator who focusses on private citizens.