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Maine Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

Over 1.3 million people live in Maine, which has relatively low rates of crime and incarceration compared to other states.1 Although private bail bonds are not explicitly prohibited in Maine, private bonds are rare in the state due to various court-supervised alternatives. In addition, recent reforms to the state’s bail code have reduced the need for court-supervised bail. Because of the lack of a private bail industry, Maine does not currently require bounty hunters, also known as bail enforcement agents, to become licensed in order to pursue fugitives who have skipped bail, or “skips.” At the same time, this lack of industry provides few opportunities for those who wish to pursue careers in bounty hunting. You may wish to consider becoming a private investigator or detective, known as professional investigators (PIs) in Maine. Professional investigators are licensed by the Maine State Police (MSP). Keep reading to find out more about the licensure process and requirements.

Table of Contents
Professional Investigator Requirements
Steps to a Career
Related Careers
Training and Education Options
Finding Work
Salary and Job Outlook
Professional Investigator Resources

Requirements for Prospective Professional Investigators in Maine

In Maine, any person seeking to obtain information about the “identity, habits, conduct, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions, reputation or character of any person” is required to be licensed as a professional investigator. To qualify as a professional investigator, you must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Be a citizen or resident alien of the United States
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED
  • Have good moral character, based on a clean criminal record free of convictions punishable by imprisonment of one year or more
  • Meet the minimum education and experience requirements

Along with these requirements, there are additional steps you must take in order to earn your license.

Steps to a Career as a Professional Investigator in Maine

Professional investigators may perform a variety of tasks, which are typically related to investigating legal, financial, and personal information on behalf of their clients. Before applying for your Maine professional investigator’s license, you must ensure that you meet the state’s requirements for education and experience as well as pass an exam and background check. You will also need to complete a criminal background check. Continue reading to gain an understanding of the process.

1. Gain the required education and experience.

Maine state law sets specific education and experience requirements for prospective professional investigators. You can meet these requirements by completing any one of the following combinations:

  • Complete a sponsorship program as a licensed investigative assistant plus at least 60 hours of college credit in a related field such as criminal justice or private investigation, or
  • Complete at least 60 hours of college credit leading to an associate degree in criminal justice, security management, or a similar course of study plus at least 2 years of non-clerical work experience in law or criminal justice, or
  • Have at least three years of employment in an investigative capacity on behalf of the federal government or three years of employment in the law enforcement agencies of state or local governments plus state-approved law enforcement training

For a full explanation of Maine’s education and experience requirements for professional investigators, refer to the Maine State Police Professional Investigator’s Handbook.

2. Apply for a professional investigator’s license.

After you have met the requirements above, in order to continue the process to become a professional investigator in Maine your application must be reviewed by the MSP. You can access the application through the Special Investigations Unit. A complete application packet includes a total of four forms:

  • Application for a Professional Investigator License
  • Form P-3E, Authorization to Release information to the Chief of the Maine State Police
  • Authorization to Release information regarding commitments to the Riverview Psychiatric Center and the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center
  • Form 577 to support the above Authorization to Release

In addition to completing the forms noted above, you must also include with your application copies of the following documents:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Birth certificate or resident alien card
  • All documentation supporting education and experience, including sponsorship program documents; law enforcement academy certificates; college transcripts and diplomas; or other documentation such as military discharge
  • A complete work history that includes job titles, duties, and documentation of beginning and ending dates of employment

Along with these documents, you must also submit an application fee of $50 and a State Bureau of Identification record check fee of $21 (as of August 2022).

3. Familiarize yourself with concealed carry law.

Although it is not required, many professional investigators carry a handgun while working. While a concealed carry permit is not ordinarily required in Maine, in order to carry legally in Maine while working as a professional investigator you must have a concealed carry permit issued by the Chief of the Maine State Police. Even if you do not wish to carry a firearm, the exam for professional investigators includes questions on concealed carry and responsible firearm use, so it is best to at least familiarize yourself with the law and best practices.

4. Pass the Maine Professional Investigators Examination

Once your application has been approved by the MSP, you are ready for the next step, which is passing the Professional Investigators Examination. You will be informed of testing dates and procedures upon approval of your license and will not be eligible to test until you receive your authorization. The exam consists of 50 questions regarding Maine’s laws on professional investigation, concealed carry, criminal statutes, and ethics.

A passing score on this exam is 76% or better. In order to receive your license after passing the exam, you must pay a $450 licensing fee (as of August 2022) and provide proof of insurance, which is discussed below.

5. Obtain insurance meeting Maine’s requirements for professional investigators.

In order to begin working as a professional investigator in Maine, you must hold a Commercial General Liability insurance policy covering your professional activities and post a professional surety bond of $10,000 if a resident of the state or $50,000 if a non-resident. The general liability policy must name you as the insured and provide coverage for events arising from professional activities of at least:

  • $10,000 in property damages;
  • $100,000 for injury or death of a person;
  • $200,000 for injuries or deaths of more than one person

Note that these are minimum coverage requirements; seeking additional insurance is advisable. The surety bond must be executed on the Surety Bond for Professional Investigator form provided on the MSP website.

6. Receive your license.

After all of your documentation has been reviewed and approved, you will receive your Maine professional investigator’s license. In order to keep your license active and in good standing, you must renew it every two years using the provided renewal cover letter and pay the $500 licensing fee plus a background check fee of $21 (as of August 2022).

Related Careers

Especially in states with smaller populations, professional investigators often work in related fields for supplemental income and meet potential new clients. One popular option is to work as a process server.

Process Server

Process servers may work independently for the courts or on behalf of an attorney or other organization to deliver documents relating to legal matters. Process servers are not required to be licensed in Maine but must follow Maine statutes and rules regarding process serving, which among other requirements ban service of process from being performed on Sundays. For more information, refer to the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure or your local courts.

Training and Education Options in Michigan

As mentioned above, professional investigators in Maine must meet education and experience requirements. A two- or four-year degree in criminal justice, law enforcement, or a related field is a strong foundation for a professional career even if you meet Maine’s requirements based on experience alone. Earning a formal education also shows potential clients that you are serious about your work. Listed below are a few Maine colleges that offer programs in criminal justice and related fields.

Central Maine Community College
1250 Turner St
Auburn, ME 04210
https://www.cmcc.edu/academics/programs/programs-of-study/criminal-justice/

Eastern Maine Community College
354 Hogan Rd
Bangor, ME 04401
https://www.emcc.edu/academics/programs/programs-of-study/criminal-justice/

Southern Maine Community College
2 Fort Rd
South Portland, ME 04106
https://www.smccme.edu/academics/degree-programs/criminal-justice/

Finding Work

Most professional investigators rely on word-of-mouth to secure work, so forming professional networks is a must to find success in this career. Finding a professional mentor who can provide you with career advice based on his or her experience is a great way to begin building professional contacts. You can also consider joining professional associations or attending networking events.

Featured Professional Investigators in Maine

To help you start your career, we have provided the following list of highly-rated and well-known professional investigation agencies in Maine.

Bangor Private Investigations
619 Hammond St
Ste 3
Bangor, ME 04401
https://www.bangorpi.com/

BlackRock Investigations & Consulting
533 ME-3
South China, ME 04358
https://www.blackrockmaine.com

Cunningham Investigations
PO Box 1693
Portland, ME 04104
https://www.cunninghaminvestigationsinc.com/

Northeast Investigations
PO Box 11606
Portland, ME 04104
https://www.northeastinvestigations.net/

Professional Investigator Salary and Outlook in Maine

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2021 there were 110 private detectives and investigators working in Maine, earning an average annual salary of $54,580.2 This was lower than the national average of $60,970.3 Job growth statistics for private detectives and investigators are not available for the state of Maine, so we use the public sector equivalent of detectives and criminal investigators as a proxy. According to Projections Central, demand for detectives and criminal investigators in Maine is expected to decrease by 1.8% through 2030.4

City or Metropolitan AreaNumber Employed2Average Annual Salary2
Portland-South Portland30$56,030
Statewide110$54,580

Additional Resources

References:
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Maine: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/ME/PST045221
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021 Occupational Employment and Wages, Maine: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_me.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021, Private Detectives and Investigators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm
4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm