Before the forensic scientist was all over TV (CSI, anyone?), the criminal justice stars of the day were nearly all Private Detectives. From the Rockford Files to Moonlighting to Magnum, P.I., there were almost more private detectives on television than there were in the field. While a private detective job may not be in the spotlight today, it is still a thriving field.
Private Investigator Job Profile
So, what does a private investigator job entail? Well, obviously, they investigate. Investigators and private detectives discover facts by employing a number of different investigation techniques. Different types of surveillance and search techniques are used to conduct these investigations; investigators may place phone calls or visit places of employment to verify facts about someone’s work or income. They also may conduct interviews in order to generate as much background information on someone as possible, especially when conducting background checks or searching for missing persons.
You’ve seen in the movies the beautiful veiled woman hiring a gumshoe to follow her husband, but when telling the private investigator’s true story, you have to ask; who really hires private investigators? Individuals, lawyers, and businesses all receive assistance from private investigators and detectives regarding a number of money, law, and personal related issues. Additionally, private investigators may provide personal protection services for celebrities, businesses, and corporate executives. They may also aid in background checks, fact verification for employment, investigations concerning injury lawsuits and liability, child support and custody battles, fraudulent insurance claims investigations, and a variety of other situations. An increasing number are being hired to investigate a spouse or partner’s fidelity. In short, private investigators are in high demand.
Many private investigators choose to specialize in specific areas. Some of those include:
- Intellectual Property Theft. These investigators track pirates and assist clients in stopping the illegal activities. The may also provide evidence in court proceedings.
- Financial and Estate Affairs. These investigators conduct research and interviews to determine assets and resources.
- Legal Investigators. These detectives typically work with court cases and are hired by attorneys and law firms. They assist in preparing defense cases and may also prepare documents for court.
- Corporate Investigators. These investigators are hired to examine internal and external situations that may affect a corporation. They may also look for evidence of on-site drug use, theft, or false billing by suppliers.
- Financial Investigators. When large sums of money are involved with corporate transactions, financial investigators examine the backgrounds of everyone involved.
- Store Detectives. These detectives are hired to protect retail organizations from theft and shoplifting—both from customers and employees.
Education & Training
So, what kind of training or education do you need to hold a private detective job? A college education is a requirement for prospective detectives, especially in courses related to law enforcement or criminal justice. While there is no required training to become a private investigator, you do need a license in most states.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a great deal of job growth in this field expected, particularly as many private detectives reach retirement age. The salary isn’t too bad either—most private investigators earn start earning around $30,000 a year, with those with experience earning as much as $57,000. If you find the idea of investigation exciting, consider a degree in criminal justice today!