A private investigator, also referred to as a PI, is one who is hired to gather and analyze information in an effort to assemble the truth of a matter he was hired to figure out. Working as a private investigator can be a challenging, interesting, and rewarding career choice. Many who are interested in pursuing a career in this field do so because they enjoy solving mysteries, uncovering hidden information, and determining the facts in a variety of circumstances. While choosing a career in such an industry can be satisfying, before taking steps to enter this field, many people first want to know what is the salary of a private investigator.
Areas of specialty vary for a private investigator. Some may work with government agencies or law enforcement, some may specialize in solving cyber crimes, others may work with insurance companies or bill collectors, and others with private attorneys. These are but a few of the arenas where investigative services may be requested, but there are a variety of other public and private industries that may require the services of a PI as well. Also, within many of these industries, exists a need for investigators that are specially trained and experienced in investigating a variety of specific niches. Because the areas of business and investigative expertise vary widely, the salary of a private investigator varies.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2007, private investigators in the United States earned between $20,990 and $72,280. On average, investigators work for an employer approximately 30 hours per week or are self-employed. While a self-employed PI has the potential to earn more gross income, he also has more overhead costs associated with running a business. On the other hand, one who is employed either in government or the private sector is not responsible for overhead expenses, but tend to earn less gross pay as an hourly or salaried employee.
Many choose a career as a PI because they have a genuine passion for investigating information. Although earning a living wage is important, most people choose to become investigators because they delight in doing the actual work involved and not because of the salary potential. Anyone interested in becoming a PI would be wise to enter the field for the same reasons, as there is no guarantee that the individual salary of a private investigator will be at the higher levels of the earning spectrum.
To determine the salary for a PI within a particular niche, the Bureau of Labor Statistics may be a helpful place to start. It should further be noted that additional training to work as a private investigator in a particular specialty is necessary before accessing work in that niche, and before accessing the higher incomes that may come with a particular area of expertise. Overall, a career as a private investigator should be pursued more because of a passion for the work and less because of the actual salary of a private investigator.