2020 forecast - what happens to salaries if the Colorado private investigator licensing law is sunset?
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook the private detective industry is expected to grow 8% between 2018 and 2028. The annual wage average was $50,090 in 2018 as "demand for private detectives and investigators will stem from security concerns and from the need to protect confidential information." The project that the field is expected to continue attracting qualified people, "including relatively young retirees from law enforcement and the military. Candidates with related work experience, as well as those with strong interviewing skills and familiarity with computers, may find more job opportunities than others," they add. But what happens to this playing field if the mandatory licensing law is taken away?
In effort to obtain an answer by zooming in on Colorado specific-data, I punched in the address of the Ross Investigators, PC, Inc., 1665 Grant St. #304, Denver, CO. 80203 What do the earnings of Colorado private investigators working in or nearby the firm look like now under the current licensing program.
Note that the local and regional salary growth projections do not take into account the late 2019 numbers which may have been impacted by the Department of Regulatory agencies' Sunset Report and DORA's subsequent decision to end the Colorado licensing program by the end of 2020.
Colorado's mandatory licensing program has been in place for half a decade and projecting salaries based on these numbers is problematic but they are still worth looking at.
See also: Colorado Department of Regulatory Agency 2019 Sunset Review recommends the General Assembly sunset to Colorado Private Investigator Licensing Program
Honing in on states without licensing programs --there are only five of them-- might shake things up a bit. Or at least make them more interesting. What happens in states where anyone can hang a shingle and proclaim themselves a private eye? Will the field become saturated or will the cream rise to the top anyway? If DORA's plan to sunset the private investigator licensing program goes through by the end of 2020 will the field become more or less competitive?
The impact of state licensing programs on private investigator salaries
The BLS provides a comprehensive median salary range breakdown for most but not all of those states if you isolate the stats. Wyoming is the only relevant data that is missing.
South Dakota, at $17,770 annually below the national average and $8.54 annually below the national average wins the Golden Raspberry or Razzie for worst salary in an unlicensed state. Boooo South Dakota!Of the five states in the country that don't have licensing programs, fifty percent have salaries that fall below the national average and fifty percent have salaries that exceed the national average. Colorado hovers around the average salary with Denver and the surrounding metro area (which includes Aurora, Lakewood, Englewood, Parker, Castle Rock, Glendale and Boulder).
Colorado's local salary averages do not take real estate, cost of living, unemployment rates or health insurance costs into account. What can we learn from them, regardless. More importantly, is Colorado at risk of becoming another South Dakota or Mississippi which hails at $9,920 annually below the national average?
Perhaps if DORA successfully sunsets the Colorado licensing law salaries will stay the same. Because sure, anyone can hang a shingle but consumers know how to disseminate between whose real-deal and whose not. Or do they?
The Denver Private Investigator Blog will continue to report on this topic. If you are a stakeholder who wants to weigh in, please contact us via email, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
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