Private Investigator Career
In the movies, private investigators are often involved in car chases and life threatening situations. Although the life of a real private investigator may not be like it appears in the movies, it can still be an interesting and rewarding career.
Private investigators may work for companies, organizations, attorneys or be self employed. Investigators may work on a variety of cases. For example, an individual may hire an investigator to help find a missing person, or catch a cheating spouse. A company or business may hire an investigator to prove an employee was involved in something illegal.
Although some investigators may take various types of cases, others decide to specialize in specific areas like missing persons, homicide, or work with attorneys on criminal cases. Other investigators work cases involving fraud or civil liability. Investigators may work for insurance companies dealing with workmanís compensation cases or arson claims. The increase in identity theft has created a new specialty for private investigators.
The specifics of what an investigator does may vary depending on the case. For example, it may be necessary to find background information on a case through research and interviews. In other instances, an investigator may need to conduct a surveillance to obtain proof for a case. Investigators may need to search and review records, such as criminal histories or financial records.
Individuals who want to start a private investigator career can take a few paths. Many investigators have worked in law enforcement in positions such as a police detective or military policemen before obtaining a license as a private investigator. Others have a criminal justice degree and are hired by a licensed investigator and work on getting their own license.
All states except, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, South Dakota and Wyoming require a private investigator to be licensed. The requirements for licensure vary. Some states require a criminal history check and college coursework in criminal justice. Other states require completion of an exam or a specific amount of hours worked under a licensed investigator.
Whether through completed college classes, or work experience, private investigators need to have an understanding of laws in their state. For example, they will need to know procedures to follow while conducting surveillance. If an investigator is gathering evidence for a court case, itís essential he or she understands what is admissible in court.
Investigators who will be conducting surveillance will need to learn to use equipment, such as video cameras and phone monitoring devices. Depending on the type of investigation and the threat of physical danger, an investigator may feel the need to carry a handgun. States have different laws and requirements for investigators who want a permit to carry a firearm.
For investigators who are self employed, marketing their services and gaining a good reputation are needed to build a business. Networking with local business and becoming familiar with law enforcement officials may help. Investigators may want to consider joining a professional association like the United States Association of Professional Investigators (USAPI). The USAPI can provide members with information on career development.
The salaries for private investigators will vary greatly. Factors, such as the type of case an investigator is working on and whether the investigator is self employed, contribute to salary.