Career Development

What Does a Private Investigator Do?

Find out what a private investigator does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a private investigator.

Private investigators (PIs) are detectives who work for private companies or individuals. They investigate a wide range of cases, from tracking down missing persons to verifying alibis in criminal investigations.

Private investigators may also be called upon to conduct background checks on potential employees or provide security services at events such as weddings or political rallies.

Private Investigator Job Duties

Private investigators have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Collecting information about individuals using public records such as birth certificates and real estate records
  • Conducting surveillance on individuals, businesses, or locations for security purposes
  • Analyzing data and providing reports to clients based on findings for use in court proceedings
  • Interacting with clients to develop case strategies and plans of action
  • Interviewing witnesses and suspects to obtain information related to cases
  • Conducting investigations for individuals involved in personal injury claims, criminal cases, and other legal matters
  • Conducting background checks on individuals to determine their suitability for employment or volunteer positions
  • Acting as an intermediary between clients and other parties involved in legal disputes, such as attorneys or insurance companies
  • Performing research to locate witnesses or locate evidence that is relevant to cases

Private Investigator Salary & Outlook

Private investigators’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of work they do. They may also earn additional income through bonuses or commissions.

  • Median Annual Salary: $52,500 ($25.24/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $165,000 ($79.33/hour)

The employment of private investigators is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Demand for private investigators is expected to increase as demand for private security services grows. As more businesses hire private security firms, demand for private investigators employed by these firms will increase. In addition, demand for private investigators may increase as law enforcement agencies continue to reduce their budgets.

Private Investigator Job Requirements

In order to become a private investigator, one typically needs to have the following:

Education: Most private investigators hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Some choose to earn a degree in criminal justice or another closely related field.

Many employers prefer candidates who have a degree in investigative or forensic accounting. These degrees provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to conduct investigations and gather evidence.

Training & Experience: Many private investigators receive on-the-job training from their employer. This training may include instruction on the company’s policies and procedures, the use of equipment and the methods of investigation.

Certifications & Licenses: Many states require private investigators to have a license to operate there. Requirements vary, so it is best to review the laws for the state in which you want to work.

Private Investigator Skills

Private investigators need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: As a private investigator, you may need to use various types of technology to gather information. This may include using computer programs to track emails, monitor phone calls or track a person’s location. It may also include using various types of surveillance equipment to observe a person’s actions.

Communication skills: Communication skills are a necessary skill for private investigators. They use their communication skills to communicate with clients, law enforcement and other private investigators. They also use their communication skills to relay information to other private investigators and law enforcement.

Research skills: Private investigators use research skills to gather information about their clients’ cases. They use research skills to find information about suspects, victims and other people involved in a case. They also use research skills to find information about locations and other details that can help them solve cases.

Observation skills: Observation skills are the ability to notice small details and changes in behavior. This can be a very useful skill for private investigators as it can help them notice when someone is lying or hiding information.

Physical fitness: Physical fitness is another important skill for private investigators. This is because they often need to be in good shape to keep up with their clients and perform their duties. For example, they may need to follow a person or group for long periods of time, which requires them to be physically fit.

Private Investigator Work Environment

Private investigators typically work long hours, including evenings and weekends. They often work on several cases at the same time and must be able to juggle many balls in the air. The work can be stressful and dangerous, and investigators must be able to think on their feet and handle surprises. They also need to be able to deal with rejection, since many leads will not pan out. Private investigators who work for insurance companies or law firms may have regular office hours. However, those who are self-employed or work for private detective agencies often set their own hours and work as much as necessary to get the job done.

Private Investigator Trends

Here are three trends influencing how private investigators work. Private investigators will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Digital Investigations

The growth of digital investigations is a trend that is quickly changing the private investigation industry. As more and more data is stored online, investigators are turning to digital methods to find evidence of wrongdoing.

This trend is creating opportunities for private investigators who are skilled in digital investigations. They can help businesses and individuals find information that is hidden in the vastness of the internet. In addition, they can also help protect against cybercrime by identifying vulnerabilities and providing security solutions.

More Use of Technology in Investigations

As technology advances, so does the use of technology in investigations. This means that private investigators will need to be familiar with new technologies in order to stay competitive.

One example of this trend is the increasing use of drones in surveillance work. Drones allow investigators to get a bird’s-eye view of a location without being seen, which can be very helpful in some cases. Additionally, many drones come equipped with cameras that can record video or take photos.

Greater Focus on Cybersecurity

As businesses become more reliant on technology, the need for cybersecurity professionals will continue to grow. This is because hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and they are finding new ways to exploit weaknesses in computer systems.

Private investigators can capitalize on this trend by becoming experts in cybersecurity. This will allow them to help businesses protect themselves from hackers, as well as investigate breaches after they have occurred.

How to Become a Private Investigator

A private investigator career can be both rewarding and challenging. It’s important to consider all the aspects of this profession before jumping in headfirst.

One of the most important things to think about is the type of work you want to do. Do you want to specialize in a certain area, such as surveillance or fraud investigation? Or would you rather take on a variety of cases, no matter what they are?

You should also consider your location. If you want to work as a private investigator, it’s important to live near where the work is. Many investigators travel long distances to take on cases, so if you want to stay close to home, you may need to find another job.

It’s also important to have the right skills for the job. Most investigators have a background in law enforcement or criminal justice, but some come from other fields, such as accounting or engineering.

Advancement Prospects

Private investigators typically start their careers working for a private investigation firm. As they gain experience, they may be promoted to positions of greater responsibility, such as lead investigator or supervisor. Some private investigators eventually start their own firms.

Private investigators who have law enforcement experience may be able to find jobs with state or local police departments or with the federal government. Investigators with experience in accounting or auditing may find positions with insurance companies or accounting firms.

Private Investigator Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we believe that everyone has a right to the truth. We are looking for a highly skilled and experienced private investigator to join our team. The ideal candidate will have a strong background in law enforcement or the military, with extensive training and experience in surveillance, interrogation, and evidence collection. He or she will be able to work independently, with little supervision, and must be able to think on their feet and make quick decisions. The ability to obtain and maintain confidential information is essential. The successful candidate will be a team player with a strong work ethic and a commitment to justice.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Conduct surveillance and gather evidence for cases involving infidelity, insurance fraud, missing persons, child custody, and more
  • Utilize a variety of investigative techniques, including but not limited to background checks, interviews, database searches, and public record retrieval
  • Prepare detailed reports documenting all findings and present them to clients
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest technology and trends in the industry to maintain a competitive edge
  • Maintain strict confidentiality with all client information
  • Adhere to all local, state, and federal laws governing private investigators
  • Must be able to work independently with little supervision and handle multiple cases simultaneously
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite and other common computer programs
  • Ability to think critically and solve problems
  • Valid driver’s license and clean driving record

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, criminology, or related field
  • Minimum 5 years professional experience as a private investigator or law enforcement officer
  • Excellent research skills
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong analytical and critical thinking skills
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, with aptitude to learn new software and systems

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in criminal justice, criminology, or related field
  • 10+ years professional experience as a private investigator or law enforcement officer
  • Working knowledge of surveillance equipment and techniques
  • Familiarity with state and federal laws governing investigations
  • Bilingual (English/Spanish)

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