What does a private investigator do?
Private investigators help people, attorneys, and businesses by uncovering and examining information. They connect small pieces of information to uncover facts about financial, legal, and personal matters and to solve longstanding mysteries. Private investigators offer a variety of services such as individual background profiles, pre-employment verification, and celebrity, corporate, and executive protection. Some investigate computer crimes and provide assistance in premarital screening, criminal and civil cases, child custody and production cases, missing persons cases, and insurance claims and fraud. Sometime individuals hire private investigators to follow other individuals with suspicions of infidelity.
Private investigators use computer database searches, make phone calls, visit places of employment, conduct interviews, and gather information and facts in other ways. Sometimes private investigators wear disguises and go under cover to obtain information and observe individuals. They often use binoculars, cell phones, photographs and video cameras.
What kind of training does a private investigator need?
Many private investigators have associate or bachelor degrees in political science, criminal justice, or other related field. Most private investigators also learn their skills through on the job training. They typically begin by learning how to use databases to obtain information.
Most states require private investigators to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but typically involve minimum education requirements, work experience, passing a background check, and passing an examination. Additional requirements for firearms permits are required in all states. Some private investigators earn certifications such as the Professional Certified Investigator certification. Applicants must have at least a high school diploma, 5 years of related work experience, and pass an examination.
What are the prospects for a career as a private investigator?
Employment of private investigators is projected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 18% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Heightened security concerns, increase in Internet criminal activity, and the need to protect all types of property and information will drive job growth.
Job prospects are expected to be good with keen competition because the career attracts many candidates. Job opportunities will also occur from the need to replace private investigators that retire or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do private investigators make?
As of September 2009, the middle 50% of private investigators earned annual salaries between $32,523 and $48,677. The highest 10% earned annual salaries of more than $56,634 (2).
A career as a private investigator is a great choice for people interested in providing investigative services to clients. Private investigators must have assertiveness, persistence, and ingenuity. They must have excellent communication, be able to think on the spot, and not be afraid of confrontation. Great interrogation and interviewing skills are also important.