Private Detective

Private detective is an independent, yet vital law career. Private investigatorss often work on cases that cannot be handled by the police for one reason or another. They are hired by companies, individuals, and attorneys.

What is the job of a private detective?

Private detectives are hired for investigations, protection, employment verification, determining background profiles. They may investigate computer crimes, such as identity theft or threatening emails or may assist attorneys in finding information about people or incidents relevant to cases. Insurance companies hire them to investigate possible fraud and they are hired for missing child cases, child custody disputes, or in divorces cases.

Surveillance is a crucial tool to the private detective. He/she may spend hours observing a site or a person, using binoculars, GPS, microphones and video cameras.

The private detective must keep up to date on laws and regulations to ensure that he follows them.

Many private detectives specialize in areas such as computer forensic investigators, legal investigators, corporate investigators or financial investigators. They may work as detectives for stores, hotels, and businesses.

What are the requirements for the job?

There are no educational requirements for private detectives, although many have college degrees. They may benefit from courses in criminal justice. Some private detectives have degrees relating to their specialty, such as in business or finance. All but seven states require private detectives to be licensed. Some states have strict regulations, while others have few requirements.

Private detectives often have a background in the military or as a police officer. They need to have ingenuity, patience, assertiveness and not be afraid of confrontation. They must be detail oriented and very observant. Good people skills and interviewing abilities are a benefit.

What is the work environment?

The work environment for a private detective varies every day. One day, he/she may spend at an office conducting research on a computer. Another day and night, they may have a subject under surveillance and spend hours in their car. Those who are store, hotel or business detectives spend their time at the business.
They usually work alone, but may cooperate on surveillance duties or protection details. Hours can cover any time, including nights, weekends and holidays.

Salaries, job advancement and outlook

Salary amounts vary widely for private detectives, depending on what job they are currently in. Store, hotel, and business detectives have steady, well-paying jobs. Single detectives may experience times of low business. In 2008, the median annual salary was $42,000.

The outlook for private detectives is good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a growth of 22% from 2008 to 2018, a rate much higher than the average of all professions. Some increased demand comes from security concerns, more detailed financial transactions, and more computer crimes. More employers are running background checks on employees, often done by private detectives.

Last Updated: 05/23/2014

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